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Sisters of Destiny; Threads of Fate - 88%

TheStormIRide, April 20th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, Digital, III Damnation Productions

Weaving the fates for humans and gods alike, the Morai of Greek mythology consists of three sisters, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. As incarnations of destiny, the sisters are each responsible for different tasks: Clotho spins the thread of life; Lachesis measures the thread of life; and Atropos cuts the thread of life. With this concept in mind, three Greek black metal acts joined forced to present this narration in musical form, a split album titled Moerae. Awe, Vacantfield and End, all hailing from Athens, each provide a single track, taking one of the of sisters and telling her tale. The split album was released at the end of March digitally, but is due out on CD and vinyl at a later date through III Damnation Productions.

With each track clocking in at over sixteen minutes long, Moerae is a complex and rather challenging release but each of the bands brings their own intriguing style of black metal to the fold. Awe’s track, “Clotho”, brings the first segment of the tale. Despite the band’s 2007 formation, this split marks their debut release. Beginning with a surge of chaotic and frenetic black metal, consisting of fast paced trem riffs, blasting drums and bellowing yet raspy growls, Awe’s sound evokes just as much jarring dissonance as it does fiery black metal. Rather than firing away on second wave histrionics for the entire performance, the band delves into jagged, atonal melodies and whimsical touches of avant-garde sounds. “Clotho” swirls between frenetic black metal and these sections of unsettling avant-garde, smoothly bringing the thread of life into focus.

Vacantfield recounts the tale of Lachesis, the sister who measures every thread of mortality. Beginning with some heavy handed, acerbic black metal, the band rolls into an extremely catchy yet still suffocatingly thick sound driven forth by staunch power chords. Much like Awe brought dissonance, Vacantfield brings disjointed and disembodied clean vocals alongside flighty ambient noise lending a rather abstract, avant-garde feel to their sound. The band never loses sight of their blackened histrionics, though, as things quickly progress into a second wave influenced riff with some nuanced melodies woven throughout. This balancing act continues through the rest of “Lachesis”, treading a fine line between solid black metal with subtle underlying melodies and avant-garde weirdness. The track is really reminiscent of the French black metal scene of late, such as Deathspell Omega, Aosoth and S.V.E.S.T.

Closing out the trilogy with the story of Atropos, End brings, perhaps, the most straight forward track of the split. Focusing on the story of the sister who cuts the threads of life, End brings a mostly mid-paced track with plenty of captivating trem lines and rather garbled, distant sounding screams. While that could describe any number of bands, End’s use of prominently thundering bass lines stands out. The mid-paced black metal proceeds with little flair before giving way to a repeated melodic lick, chanting vocals and a dash of epic keyboard filling out the background which finally gives way to a short segment of dark ambient soundscapes. This serves as a jumping point for the band to present a dose of fantastic Hellenic-tinged black metal, replete with a grandiose atmospheric backdrop amid crunchy black metal with melodic flourishes. Balancing between the triumphant Hellenic sound and standard second wave fare, “Atropos” shows End maturing in comparison to their previous material.

Moerae is a must have for any fan of the Greek black metal scene. This split consists of three bands from Athens all paying tribute to the local mythology, with each band bringing a sprawling track over sixteen minutes. While all three bands share their hometown, each band brings their own distinct sound with individual influences juxtaposed alongside their black metal. Despite the different directions each band takes their sound, the tracks on Moerae play through more like an album than a collection of tracks crammed together. All in all, a great release that showcases the talent the Athens scene has to offer.

Written for The Metal Observer.

What Was, What Is, What Will Be - 85%

autothrall, April 14th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, Digital, III Damnation Productions

After decades of split recording exposures, I'd be lying if I said that the medium hadn't grown a little stagnant for me, largely because the lion's share of these things simply possess no semblance of studio consistency or creative coherence. In so many cases, it's just product pushing with buddies or complete strangers, in a limited format. But of course, when even a fraction of the imagination is applied to this process, you can come up with gold, with two or more artists functioning on the same page, producing a recording that has an intrinsic value beyond just a flag-waving collaboration for some label, scene, genre. As for the three Greek acts responsible for the Moerae LP, they have gone well beyond such a 'fraction', and put together something visionary and thematic which is far more than the mere sum of its parts...

Three tunes, each over 16 minutes in length, and each devoted to one of the Three Fates of Greek mythology (or moirai, or Moerae). You could say that it was in the blood, because what the bands have produced is not just some simple gimmicky idea which falters in its execution, but a lethal dose of progressive gonzo annihilation which takes great liberties from the standard black metal troops to incorporate anything from thrash riffing to pure ambiance (especially in "Atropos") to just about anything they fucking want to include. You're still getting plenty of air-time for the more technical black metal attack, which is the primary impetus of several of the bands, but the fact is they have not padded out such swollen tracks with loads of redundant nonsense. Each "Clotho", "Lachesis" and "Atropos" serve as smorgasbords of the unexpected, without devolving into sheer, matchless chaos. Production is competent all around, and while the mixes of the three tracks do vary incrementally, the common length of the playgrounds they inhabit and stylistic variation are so consistent that it does feel like the bands were at least communicating telepathically throughout the process.

I've reviewed all of the full-length records by End to date, but "Atropos" is by far the most interesting thing they've ever created and I do hope it marks a glimpse into what they might create in the future. Vacantfield has a notably more progressive/thrash component to its composition, but they never fail to entice me with all the jarring effects, decrepit vocals and subtle touches like the keys. As for Awe, well this is a band involving members of at least one other superb Hellas black metal band, which I am not presently at liberty to say, but tonally their contribution "Clotho" is the best at forcing the black metal motif with a lot of dissonance and some really evil breakdown riffs which are among the most fucking tremendous across the entire experience. Instruments on the whole are mixed to an infectious level of clarity which does not entirely eschew the rawness of the parent genre, but allows the listener to more easily ingest the psychotic musical spasms. Not all the riffs are gold, and there are some moments through each of the cuts which end up less engaging than their surroundings, but all told, it's a really cool recording. Probably the most intriguing split since Dis Pater's Converge, Rivers of Hell from 2013, in which the Australian musician explore a similar mythic concept through three of his own projects. Track this down, whether you're a fan of the more eccentric Greek black metal wizards or just compelling extreme music in general. Fucking great.