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Excellent split, worthy of notice - 90%

Noktorn, February 10th, 2009

This rather laboriously titled split is clearly carried by Hellveto; I can't imagine it being purchased with anything in mind but the Hellveto side (I certainly didn't) as the other two bands range from almost totally unknown (Forestdome) to the same minus the 'almost' (Phorcys). Hellveto's also the only band to have done anything since this split, so it might be an unfortunate epitaph to the two more obscure artists here.

The real surprise of this disc isn't the quality of the Hellveto tracks. Hellveto's excellence is even at this point in the project's career essentially guaranteed, and it doesn't change at all on that side of the split. The remarkable aspect is that the two other bands nearly give Hellveto a run for its money in quality. Phorcys' side is a great slab of music from a completely unknown group, and Forestdome's is extremely strong despite its more conventional style. This disc doesn't slouch for a moment and is definitely worth the time of any black metal fan.

Hellveto:

The music on Hellveto's side of the split is most in line with a more riffy version of what would be found on the following full-length, 'Klatwa', which is in and of itself something of an extension of the band's second full-length, 'Zemsta'. The style is right in the center of Hellveto's catalog, not moving too far in the extreme misanthropic direction of 'In Arms Of Kurpian Phantom' or the ultra-folky, introspective work of albums like 'Medieval Scream'. It's also right in the middle of quality as far as Hellveto's work goes, not hitting the top few of his catalog but nowhere near the lowest either. The production is peculiarly clean and more immediate than most Hellveto works, making for a listening experience that might be a bit more accessible than most. It is, of course, in the natural vein of Hellveto's material: pagan metal with a pronounced orchestral backing. In this case, the orchestra and metallic instruments are more balanced than usual, rather than the orchestral elements taking precedence as usual.

The compositions are, per usual, incredibly strong, with 'Flame And Scream' standing out as a classic in the Hellveto catalog due to its overwhelming forcefulness via riffing and elaborate orchestral construction. The rest of the tracks are strong but fairly conventional Hellveto tracks that fall neatly in line with the rest of the band's lengthy catalog. Were it not on such an obscure release, it would be a great introduction to the band's overall sound, and so if you're looking to get into this project and manage to track this CD down, it's highly recommended. It's not a mandatory release from the project, but the hardcore Hellveto collectors out there will certainly want this split just for these give excellent tracks.

Phorcys:

Perhaps the biggest surprise on this split is totally unknown Belarusian project Phorcys. This one-man endeavor plays a very brutal style of black/death metal with a pagan edge and an infatuation with samples of people weeping that makes for a bizarre and vaguely disquieting listening experience. Machinegun blast beats are provided by a drum machine which periodically moves in weird, off-kilter directions via shifting snare placement and deliberately awkward bass drums, which contrasts pretty strangely with the more conventional parts of the programming. The riffs are simple three or four-chord tremolo affairs that are more used for texture rather than a memorable melody line, and the vocals are a fairly simple, guttural growl. The overall delivery of the music is direct, and the song structures are thrashy in nature, with repeated riffs taking the place of lyric-driven choruses and verses.

The real reason that Phorcys' material is memorable isn't really a matter of songwriting, but more the pure violence of delivery. The drum machine is almost unbelievably in your face and not even remotely obscured in the mix; instead, the snare drum is constantly battering right into your ear to the point where it causes involuntary blinking. Vocals are similarly intense and immediate, and surprisingly, the guitars are probably the least important part of the compositions, lacking a lot of memorability in the riff department and really just providing another layer of semi-melodic noise. The music would still feel surprisingly complete if simply composed of vocals, drum machine, and omnipresent samples. The sort of brute strength of this music is an interesting contrast with the black metal riffing, at least in the regard that this isn't 'norsecore' as one would typically think of it. Phorcys seems to be a dead project at this point, but the material on this split seems a fitting epitaph for a band that seems to spit fire everywhere without a target in mind.

Forestdome:

Concluding the split is this Spanish black metal horde who, rather unsurprisingly, resemble long-running act Primigenium greatly in construction and delivery. Fitting the typical mold of Spanish black metal where the style is a hodgepodge of just about every possible black metal direction, taking notes from old Norwegian artists as well as a bit from the suicidal, folk, and thrashy scenes, all wrapped up with a medieval tone, the music is a fairly conventional but not particularly trite foray into the nation's peculiar style of black metal which is recommended for those new to that community. Forestdome's music holds many references to the work of Primigenium: the occasional militaristic drumming, the relatively raw and guitar-dominated production, and the snarling vocals, and could in many ways be simply paired with that older act. Of course, despite the derivation, this means that it has most of that group's strengths: the powerful, evocative riffing, the vicious aggression, and the overall high standard of songwriting.

Forestdome is easily the most conventional artist on this split, but are extremely consistent and cohesive in their sound. Many of the riffs are memorable and linger in one's head for long after the CD is over, and the intensity of the instrumental and vocal performances are unmatched by most. Additionally, it has the epic touches that many Spanish black metal bands possess, which adds an extra dimension to the rather simple and primitive music. The atmospheric elements of this side are valuable to the overall compositions and the CD would suffer without them, and much of the charm of this side of the split is how relatively simple ideas are expanded upon through clever use of aesthetic.

Overall:

'When The River Of Hate Tears Floods' is what a split should be: multiple quality artists each bringing something different to the table. The sounds range from the traditional to the highly experimental, but at no point does the release falter in quality. As another step in Hellveto's lengthy catalog and the epitaph of two other quality artists, this CD comes highly recommended to all black metal fans.