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Outclassed. - 60%

Perplexed_Sjel, May 29th, 2008

We begin this review with a taste of Austrian black metal ambition. Grimnir aren’t a band I’m all too familiar with. This is the only song of there’s that I have heard, so I can’t make any comparisons to previous material. It would have been nice to have judged this on the basis of the material present on the only available full-length, ‘Kreuzzug in den Tod’, but that’s not likely. I imagined that this would be an entirely depressive black metal affair before I even heard the material present. One may think of this as one heck of an assumption, but given the fact that the bands participating on this release are all considered, if not by all, by many, depressive black metal bands. The song present on Grimnir’s side, ‘Angst - Requiem’ is most certainly a depressive black metal track. It follows a long list of set rules for sounding like a depressive black metal band. The production, first of all, is reminiscent of some of the Hypothermia demos, or even ‘Veins’ the debut Hypothermia record. It’s fairly murky, which suit’s the dark atmospheric soundscapes that Grimnir have laid down for us. The production doesn’t allow for much expression on the bass because it’s largely anonymous. One can hear it, ever so slightly, but it’s impact is minimal, which is a disappointing factor of the song. The overshadowing instruments are standard. The guitars, which are heavily distorted, take the bass out of the picture. However, they provide us with a sufficient amount of emotion to tide us over without the functioning bass. Whatever Grimnir lacks in the bass department, they make up for it in double bass on the drums. It’s constant, pretty much, adding hints of aggression to the pain behind the scenes. The vocals are rasps of despair, which are standard of this type of music. Whilst it’s not terrible, it’s not great either. 62% will suffice.

‘Cerna Melancholie’ is next up for the audience. I’m a huge fan of Trist, so bear with me whilst I kiss some arse here. This song has the ability to lift the audience’s mood, whereas the Grimnir track did the exact opposite. Unlike the first song on the split, this song is ready and waiting to live up the expectations of the fans. This particular track can be seen as perhaps the biggest highlight of the entire split. Whilst the production on the first song was rather dank and dark, the production here is much cleaner. Although that may be the case, the bass is still fairly anonymous. The redeeming qualities of Trist’s fantastic musicianship are able to win us other though. Trist, in the short time the man and the band has been around, has developed a knack of being able to produce depressive black metal that sounds great in comparison to the majority of music of it’s kind. This song, in particular, is fantastic. Whilst the bass is missing, the double bass, as on the first song, makes up for it. It’s not as constant on this song as it was on the previous. The other sections of the percussion instruments comes into play, inducing a high amount of melancholy into the mesmerising atmospheres that swirl around the songs body. The drums are much more expansive than usual on Trist songs, they explore the idea of innovation more often than not. Well, as much as a black metal band can be innovative. The vocals are on top form, portraying a kind of despair and sadness the vocalist of Grimnir only wishes he could achieve. Despite that, the main highlights of the song, as usual, come in the soundscapes. Whilst there is a melancholic mood flowing through the song, there are glorious moments where the song can feel rather uplifting due to the guitars, which are immense, if a tad repetitive. 90% will suffice here.

Next up are Germany’s Regnum. This is a band I have some experience with. I have two demos already and both are fairly decent, whilst not being overly impressive. The Regnum side has two songs, which are the shortest on the split, which might explain why there are two songs instead of the one. The first is odd. It begins with a man speaking in a very hateful voice. It’s in German, so I can’t decipher what he is saying as I don’t speak German and then, after a minute, the song bursts into life. Regnum are the first band on the split to take advantage of bass. The bass is audible on this song, which makes a welcomed change. It’s very solemn and sombre, which is a nice touch. The bass lines created for this song are repetitive, like the main guitar leads for the first song, but they are more affective than the guitars, which is unusual. The hollow sound, which repeats itself like some sort of German war cry, ring out to great affect. They cause a deep movement below the main riffs of the song, which hardly vary, to be fair. The guitars are incredibly distorted. They play a high pitched riff throughout the entirety of the first song. The vocals are almost as high pitched as the guitars! They go hand-in-hand quite well, depicting a strange kind of anger and hatred, which the spoken sample at the beginning also did. The drums are fairly monotonous, like the other instruments, but when that bass is uncovered, you’re hypnotised by the rest of the instruments. It’s affect on the atmosphere is profound and enjoyable. The second song takes off immediately. No introductions here, just a pounding double bass drum and that familiar bass instrument playing a hollow repetitive riff underneath the chaos and madness of the lead guitars and the vocals. It’s kind of difficult to tell the difference between the first and second songs, but they’re both fairly good. The distortion isn’t exactly warranted, but it’s mesmerising nevertheless. The main positive of the Regnum side is the bass, without a doubt. 75% will suffice here.

Last but not least is the Hypothermia song, brilliantly entitled ‘Julia’, which I think is a very special name for a song. It just sounds so beautiful in the midst of the angst that Hypothermia projects. The production of this album isn’t too dissimilar to the full-length records, but reminds me more of the ‘Veins’ era style production. Whilst this split hasn’t provided us with avant-gardé styling, it has provided us with some highly polished depressive black metal. Material that is ready to explode at any given moment. The Hypothermia side is much like any other Hypothermia song, which means it’s good. Repetitive and straight edge, just like the majority of the material on this particular split. It’s got one heck of a performance from Kim, the leading man behind the band. His vocals express pain like no other. Hypothermia, like Trist, are one of those depressive bands that can actually depress it’s audience. Whilst the majority of music under the tag doesn’t, this does. The ability to control moods is a great one to have under these circumstances and Kim manages that fantastically. Driving his music forward through emotive and atmospheric music. These qualities are achieved in a few ways. Repetitive guitars. This acts as an entrancing technique. When the guitars repeat themselves, like they do here, the emotive aspects of the riffs are instilled into the mind. Explosive drums. Whilst black metal bands usually rely heavily on double bass blast beats, Hypothermia do not. They are included, but they don’t take the main focus. Generally, that is given to the snare and symbol work. Along with the Trist side, this track, ‘Julia’ deserves a lot of credit for making this a worthwhile split. 88% will suffice.