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Ascetic Temples / Sacrament of Death - 60%

Witchfvcker, February 8th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2014, 7" vinyl, Daemon Worship Productions

This split was intended to preface the Swedish band Chalice Of Blood’s return after 8 years of inactivity, which came in form of the EP Helig, Helig, Helig, an effort I found largely unremarkable. The first side of the 7” belongs to the Dutch/Portuguese group Israthoum, who have been around under a few different names since 1992. Despite their longevity, the band remains obscure, though they seem to at one point have counted Kvohst (Beastmilk, ex-DHG, ex-Code) amongst their ranks. With a duration of less than nine minutes, Ascetic Temples/Sacrament Of Death offers only a brief taste of what both bands have to offer.

In an unexpected turn of events, Ascetic Temples opens with a furious assault that uncannily resembles Bölzer’s morbid visions. Calling upon the wrath of a thousand demons, the dense riffing and distant-sounding hoarse vocals are satisfyingly chaotic. At the half-way mark, the track opens up with the occult chanting and a grander 90’s black metal sound. There’s nothing remarkable about Israthoum’s approach, but it’s nevertheless a grimly epic piece of black metal.

Chalice Of Blood failed to impress with their recent EP, and Sacrament Of Death, which was recorded during the same session, does little to change that impression. The relentless pummeling riffs and blastbeats never stray far from the Panzer Division Marduk-sound, aping what has been derogatorily referred to as “norsecore”. In stark contrast to Ascetic Temples, there is only brutality without much substance here, and it’s somewhat understandable that this track was relegated to a split 7”.

Of the two bands, Israthoum come out as the strongest candidate on this split. In only five minutes they inspire more interest than Chalice Of Blood were able to do on their whole EP, and consequently this is only worth a listen for side A. It probably goes without saying, but this split should be reserved for collectors and hardcore fans of either band.

Written for The Metal Observer