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Polish darkness... - 82%

Pestbesmittad, August 10th, 2007

Black Altar: 77 %

This split CD neatly combines the early EP releases of both bands. Black Altar’s “Wrath ov the Gods” consists of six tracks, three of which are ambient. The black metal Black Altar plays here is a bit more straightforward and primitive than on their eponymous debut, yet in the same style. “Black Altar” and the title track are in the vein of old Gorgoroth (the three first albums) and Bathory and when I say this, I don’t think I need to elaborate much further. Old school black metal yet with a modern (i.e. good ) production is what you get. Very original it certainly isn’t but enjoyable nonetheless. There’s nothing really wrong with the sound in general but I do think the drums sound too flat and therefore lack power a bit. This becomes especially apparent during the blast parts. Shadow’s vocals are halfway between growls and screams, so they differ a bit from the typical black metal vocal style. There are also some “demonic” (for lack of better description) effects added to the vocals occasionally. There’s also a cover of Bathory’s “The Return” and I feel Black Altar do an OK version of it. However, I must say that it’s pretty frustrating when practically every black metal band feels that they have to do a Bathory cover. Not to mention the fact that it seems like it’s always the same Bathory tracks that get covered. Black Altar’s version is faithful to the original, it also includes the female scream. The three ambient songs were a positive surprise. All of them are well composed and therefore I cannot categorize them as filler. Especially “Conquering the Throne” stands out among the ambient tracks. It has grand arrangements bordering on classical music and is able to create a cinematic feel. I could very well imagine this track as the background music to some dramatic scene in a fantasy movie. Somebody could of course say that with only three metal tracks, Black Altar’s part contains too little metal. I can understand that criticism but like I said, the ambient stuff is much better than average at least.

Vesania: 86 %

Vesania’s “Moonastray” EP contains two tracks and is a harsher version of the band’s debut “Firefrost Arcanum”. The production isn’t very polished but the songs are still intriguing, fresh sounding and quite complex, just like on “F.A.”. Parallels can also be drawn to the two first Emperor albums. In other words: classy cold atmospheric black metal with an underground touch to it, which manages to avoid the typical pitfalls of the genre. For example, “Insomnia Noctiferi (ThundeRose)” contains some absolutely fantastic symphonic passages that gave me goose bumps. My only complaint concerns those black metal vocal parts where AnubiSS sounds like a croaking frog. Luckily those parts aren’t that many, mostly the vocals sound fine. If you like “Firefrost Arcanum”, you should check out “Moonastray” as well. Too bad this CD is limited to only 666 copies but hey, there’s always downloading, ebay etc., right? If you are a fan of either band and find this CD somewhere, grab it!