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Zwischen Leere und Nichts - 70%

Memnarch, April 26th, 2010

When you hear the term 'Astral Black Metal', immediately bands such as Darkspace, Limbonic Art and Paysage D'Hiver would spring to mind. Whereas Darkspace are more akin to being stuck on a desolate space barge and drifting into a stellar oblivion, Nychts remind me more of 'Moon in the Scorpio' era Limbonic Art, a psychadelic acid trip through a dark velvet void flecked with millions of tiny flickering stars. Though I would use the term 'Black Metal' loosely for Nycht's side of the split, it is much more than simply Black Metal, for the musical focus where Nychts are concerned is not based around the guitar riffing or vocals, but rather the vast spatial atmosphere Trähn is creating with the synths.
The song begins with a slow meandering guitar lead but the most notable thing is the hollow synth sound that lingers about in the background, and only very slightly changing every now and again for the first half of the song. The guitar is not used in the traditional sense as you would expect in Black Metal, it is remarkably doomy and restrained, a slow dirge with a continual mystical lead over the top, as if it was carrying you through the gargantuan galactic ocean. The vocals are extremely sparse, and there are no apparent lyrics to the song, the vocals seem to be a mere isolated wail cropping up from time to time, as if they were coming from some damned soul in another dimension. The lack of lyrics just adds to the whole mystery of the 'journey'. Around the halfway mark, the first half of the song climaxes with a rather wild solo, and the song changes from a weightless journey into a freefall, capitulating into a serene reverie for a minute or two before the second half begins with an acoustic guitar playing a sorrowful and reflective melody, and then another despondent howl erupts from the depths before the slow, distorted guitar reappears but this time playing a rather majestic, almost militaristic riff, with the vocals intertwined with a large amount of echo on them which duly sees finish of this epic, twenty minute journey. It is remarkably original piece of music on this side of the split, a Black Metal Tangerine Dream is the best comparison I can come up with, with a significant amount of focus placed upon the ambience created by the synths and echoing guitar. Trähn has created a fantastic piece of work, a cosmic journey through the stars in a galaxy in which the nearest sun has long since burned out, and the only light is that emitted from distant stars. It's only one song, but if Nychts decide to release more material in future, they could easily be up there with Darkspace and Limbonic Art in exploring the final frontier.

Wedard are a band I am quite familiar with, but have always failed to grab my attention in the way so many others of their ilk can. Sternenfrost has a penchant for releasing a lot of his material on split EPs with other bands, but as is the case here, it usually just proceeds to prove how distinctly average Wedard's material is in comparison with the other band's material on the split. From the opening notes on 'Masochist', it's your plain old 'by the book' depressive Black Metal. The production is extremely condensed and the guitars and vocals are washed with excessive reverb and buried in the mix. The songs are fairly up-tempo, helped by the brisk drumming which is the best thing about Wedard, and always has been. Programmed or not, they are executed with fine professionalism, and help to shift the rather lack lustre music along and maintain some attention. One thing about the first song that is completely off setting are the numerous breaks that appear in the song, which I assume are there to break up certain 'movements' but only succeed in making the cd sound as if it's faulty or even gives the impression of an album sampler. That's not to say it's all as stimulating as watching grass grow though, 'Winter – My Final Chapter pt 1' starts with an exquisite, softly picked tune before morphing into a ferocious charge backed up by heavy blastbeats and turbulent guitar riffing, surprisingly similar to early Immortal, with a high pitched widdling lead guitar over the top. But again the song needlessly stops for another pointless interlude, cutting short the rather fantastic beginning, and leaves you just thinking to yourself.... “why?” before continuing with an off kilter lead guitar which sticks out like a sore thumb, and ruining what would otherwise be a great song. As with most DSBM bands, the biggest influences are drawn from Burzum, and again this is the case here, for the vocals are your average Varg like shriek, that is, when you can manage to hear them when they're not buried beneath ten tonnes of off key guitar work. The riffing is also heavily generic for most of these two songs, I can barely recall any riffs except for the first half of the second song.

If Wedard stuck to the faster, brutal style showcased on their second song then they could maybe begin to go places, but as it stands, it is otherwise bog standard Suicidal Black Metal, that so many other have done before, and produced better. Wedard will have their fans though that will like the material on this split, for it doesn't differ any from the rest of their back catalogue. It isn't bad as such, it is listenable, but why listen to this when I could easily just put on Nyktalgia instead who do it so much better?
You should still definitely pick up this split though if you can, if only for the shining piece of music displayed by Nychts though. This is highly original, trance inducing Black Ambient that needs to be heard.