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As three-way splits go, this is a handy if short and perhaps uneven introduction to the work of Lascowiec and the Hungarian bands Marblebog and Verzivatar. Lascowiec's four songs virtually constitute an EP that could stand by itself while the others contribute just two songs each - hardly enough for some listeners to be able to judge their worth fairly. Perhaps if Marblebog and Verzivatar had offered or been able to offer another track or two each then people not familiar with their work would get a better idea of whether the bands' recordings are worth pursuing. Myself, I've heard Marblebog album "Forestheart" already and though I don't think it's a great recording, it at least demonstrates the act's ability to create ambient, almost shamanistic mood music and more melodic, Odinpop-styled BM. The Marblebog songs featured on "Deep Horizons ..." give only a small hint of what these guys are capable of so it would be a shame if first-timers listening to this CD decided on the basis of these songs alone that Marblebog's recordings were not worth their time chasing up.
Lascowiec go first on this CD with flowing, melancholy BM that has a Russian or east European flavour. It sounds like the kind of BM that Russian Blazebirth Hall bands like Forest or Raven Dark might have done in the past but with improved production, a less raw sound and deeper, gruffer vocals that are almost cartoony at times. The music usually bubbles along and supports the reverb-enhanced vocals in a performance akin to a poetry reading with background musical accompaniment. What percussion exists is a barely-there thudding presence suggesting the use of synth drums more sensed than heard. The last track "A Forlorn Majesty" offers some actual riffs but again they are low-key and offer no new surprises once the track hits its stride.
Marblebog's pair of songs is solid and consistent though they are on the slow side. "Soluna" is a more melodic and flowing piece with what sounds like a big battery of raw guitars with competent if pedestrian drumming and plaintive synth in support. This song is likely to appeal to first-timers as it's deep and raw with a steady rolling motorcycle rhythm and has fairly catchy if solemn riffs. "Rivers of Eternity" is slow and labouring with deep, almost horrific vocals and a nod to some melody.
Verzivatar is a much faster and more aggressive act with energy to spare and a tinny, brittle sound and the ragged voices to match. The two songs on offer go for their lives as if any minute the planet will end (though as of the date of this writing, 21 December 2012 still gives plenty of time to get our affairs fixed up) and the pace switches from medium-fast to fast and very-fast. The singing can be pretty blood-curdling in tone and delivery and I wonder if at times the vocalist needs to reach out for a jug of the red stuff to wolf down before he expires or the liquid goes all lumpy and coagulates too thickly. Not much separates the two tracks but we get a fair idea of how these guys like to play (hell for leather a lot of the time) and, from the printed lyrics, of what their lyrical concerns might be about (apocalyptic transformations like death or destruction of the Earth).
From the evidence "Deep Horizons ..." gives us, Marblebog gives a consistent and substantial performance but as mentioned before there's not much that indicates the band's versatility. Verzivatar are outstanding for their aggression and tortured high-pitched singing. Lascowiec's contribution overall seems modest compared to the Hungarians but the band does have a definite style that could be stretched to include stronger emotion and melody, and to support some epic, war-like poetry if the musicians want to pursue that direction.
This is the kind of CD that you'd share with your friends or trade for other things because once you become interested in any of these bands enough to download or buy their recordings, this compilation will have served its purpose and you won't need it any more.
Being a big fan of Lascowiec already and always open to hearing new bands, I bought this tape expecting some pretty good material from these three. I was right. In fact, it surprised me how much I enjoyed the album. Lascowiec hail from San Francisco and both Marblebog and Vérzivatar are from Hungary... even from this, I could tell that there would be a great deal of diversity. And there was...
The album begins with four tracks of piercingly cold, harsh yet ethereally atmospheric black metal from Lascowiec. Not anything entirely new to someone who has heard the band's material beforehand, but the delivery and the production makes their particular sound stand out. 'By Eight Hooves to Asgard' is probably my favourite track from their side, comparable with some of the best tracks on Asgard Mysteries. All in all, very impressed with that side. Now onto the Hungarians...
'Rivers of Eternity' kicks off and it's obvious that Marblebog deals in melodic, depressive black metal - not in the vein of bands such as Sterbend or Trist, but with a very thick guitar tone and rich drum sound. Finally, Vorgrov's pained wails set in and it starts to become an exceptionally good listen.
'Soluna' is the second, and last song from Marblebog, and follows in the vein of the predecessor track. The melody shines through considerably on this one, which I like. Again, the drums are of very high quality.
Moving on to the final third, Vérzivatar are much faster and rawer than Marblebog - and a whole lot angrier. 'Final Catharsis' begins with blastbeats and tremolo-picked guitar and... ends with blastbeats and tremolo-picked guitar. Not much variation, but for the indifferent and pissed-off black metal listener, this of course is not a detrimental problem.
The second track, 'As Endless Horizons Unfold', follows closely to 'Final Catharsis'. Just as hateful, just as enjoyable. The vocals of Elzeril stand out for me; his thick Hungarian accent is very clear and adds an interesting edge to the track. The ending is a little anti-climactic, but you never know... Vérzivatar might not have been told that their side went last in the split.
In conclusion, for black metal listeners of any particular fancy, I recommend you go out and buy this. It really is worth every penny, from the melancholy guitar intro of 'Depths of Glacial Mysts' right up until the last blast beat of 'As Endless Horizons Unfold'. Three outstanding bands - eight outstanding songs. Absolutely fantastic.