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No surprise to see two depressive bands from Russia and Pakistan sharing equal space on a self-titled album. Xerbittert from Moscow claims the first half of the split with five short songs and Taarma, based in the Baluchistan region in Pakistan, contributes two long tracks. The two bands sound superficially similar in their blurry noise-lite BM styles which emphasise a morose and often hateful and oppressive atmosphere and indistinct, almost washed-out melodies and riffs.
I'm more familiar with Taarma, having reviewed a couple of albums of his elsewhere here, so I'll let him go first. His first song is a truly terrifying beast of raw bleeding, shuddering tremolo guitar noise cloud and anguished screaming - just the guitar, the voice and the desolate atmosphere of isolation, fear and madness that grows as the track continues, and nothing more. Absolutely incredible. The obvious reference point is Xasthur (and Taarma has done the odd Xasthur cover in the past) whose style this track resembles, yet here is something deeply despairing and desolate that goes far beyond Xasthur, something that suggests extreme isolation and alienation from humanity and life itself. The second shorter track seems an unnecessary footnote as it's equally formless and not much different from the previous piece save for the buzz-chainsaw effect of the sandpapery guitars. There is a strange shimmery background tone effect, almost angelic, that provides a sinister counterpoint to the hissing torture.
After a slow and lumpen start, Xerbittert suddenly seems to remember where he is and the second track lifts his game several levels to a throbbing buzzy guitar-noise beast with a thumping sledgehammer beat near the end. The tracks are not well edited: they cut off suddenly so that the next piece can shine in the limelight briefly before also being garrotted quickly for the next. More's the pity because the shaky throbbing rhythm on some of these tracks can induce fear and terror. The sharp abrasive tone, just there but not overdone, is blazing at times and for a short while at least I don't mind the repetitive nature of the riffing. Generally the middle tracks that feature the pulsing rhythms and very little singing are more interesting than the first and last track that do have vocals.
If listeners are interested in checking out Taarma's style to get a feel for what the act does, without going further into its output, this split recording is a good place to start. Taarma man Black Emperor Jogezai lays bare his soul and anguish in just two tracks which are representative of what he's done so far that I've heard. Xerbittert's contributions are uneven but what good tracks are there, are intriguing and the Russian act seems worthy of more investigation.