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Conveying dark emotions - 46%

Lich Coldheart, June 10th, 2017

Introduction: When two bands that tend to master the art of delivering their messages through music by using ambient compositions and other creepy tricks such as hypnotic black metal sections and otherworldly, alien-esque sounds come together only dark, frightening emotions can be conveyed. Though both bands managed to do just that, quality wise the split hasn't much to offer. There's a way of getting this stuff right but relying too much on repetitiveness and not taking advantage of the enormous room for improvisation that the ambient genre has to offer can only lead to unsatisfactory results.

Chapter I: Cursed Cemetery - 35%

It looks like the Romanian outfit Cursed Cemetery looked back at their two previous releases, Victor of Vicis Obduco and Dead Souls Madness, and thought about their most defining characteristics. The former one is sheer frenzy and chaos, while the latter one undoubtedly represents boredom, repetitiveness and, well, an unending intro. Their part of this wonderful split seems to be nothing less than the mutilated child of these two previous releases.

As expected, their first song, elaborately titled "Life is Not...", is an ambient intro. Well, an unsettling ambient intro to be fair. Four minutes of creepy ambient soundscapes, overly repetitive non-distorted guitar, children voices and some female seemingly trying to talk someone into believing she's not mentally deranged represent the gateway into Cursed Cemetery's artistic vision. Symmetrically, the closer had to be another marvel, composition wise. Starting with some ear-raping loud whizzing that turns out to be a guitar which somebody wrongfully forces into shredding, then continuing with some underwhelming, underdeveloped riff that coincidentally resembles to some extent the main riff in Within Temptation's "Deep Within" song, this track doesn't have that much to offer, either. At the end of the day, the songwriting department seems to have come up with yet another stinker.

However, the second, middle track is when things get interesting. Starting with a cool wall of sound-ish, hypnotic guitar section, the song strongly resembles the material of notable atmospheric black metal bands such as Darkspace, even containing shrieked vocals lost in the background in the same vein. When the riff ends and a calm section comes in, bringing with it an apathetically delivered monologue that conveys the feeling of hopelessness, with tight drumming and a solo which is too good to be written by the likes of Fulmineous and Hex Lecter one can only wonder whether they suddenly had been struck by inspiration or simply took the ideas from someone else. Thinking about it, that's not much of a stretch considering the fact that Fulmineous has been in so many bands. Either way, one's gotta admit this second track, namely "Suffering Her Abyss", is one of the most experimental composition to ever be released under the Cursed Cemetery moniker, containing a completely unexpected clean vocals chorus and Sméagol like screeching as well.

Sadly, there's not much else to be said. It's clear that Cursed Cemetery had got better at writing bleak music by the time they wrote the material for this split but that's not much of a praise given their previous efforts. That said, shitty production quality's still present. Depressing atmosphere's still here. Recommended to those who seek dark, unsettling, underdeveloped stuff and to whoever roams through cursed cemeteries. If neither of those categories sounds like you then stay away.

Chapter II: DOG - 57%

The American dark ambient/noise band DOG is quite a (pleasant?) surprise to find on a split with Cursed Cemetery. Though their music lacks any form of metal-ness, it makes up for in atmosphere. The unsettling ambient music that DOG released on this split perfectly complements Cursed Cemetery's, building further in terms of atmosphere on the creepy foundation already established by the Romanian outfit.

Consisting of eerie, alien-like sounds and spacey sections, DOG reminds me to some extent of the ambient compositions of the aforementioned Darkspace. However, there are certain elements such as weird, rhythmical drumming and electronic sections and makes DOG's music be its own beast. Things get really creepy and disturbing when the voice of a screaming woman, that quickly proceeds to crying desperately, pops in. There's a vibe of death, impending doom that's portrayed incredibly well. Uncomfortably well.

That said, the album is still as lackluster in terms of variety as Cursed Cemetery's debut masterpiece. That makes it easy to understand what persuaded these outfits to release a split together. They were both all for maddening repetitiveness. I have to admit though that, at least, these two DOG tracks are better than anything their Romanian fellows released by this point so kudos to them for that. Lackluster as it may be, DOG's part of the split at least listenable. So... there's that.

Recommended to those who like weird, ambient, alien-esque stuff.

Final words: At the end of the day this split might be worth hearing once if you stumble upon it by chance. Never bother to actively search for it, though. It lacks a lot in terms of songwriting and variety and it stinks.