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A Single, Two Part Tribulation - 79%

orionmetalhead, March 21st, 2009

I have this attitude towards split albums in which I almost always feel that they are neither a good representation of the bands, don't comprise a real strong overall concept or have one band completely overtake the other in a hail of bullets and fire. In the case of Bosque and Senthil's split, out on Pale Horse Records, my bias towards the split album / ep format and the reasons supporting my bias are crushed, chopped up and eaten. Not only does this split show both Bosque and Senthil doing what they do well. Neither band totally decimates the other in quality (though I personally like the doomier, more blackened and melancholy Bosque tracks) and instead, both bands compliment each other's material nicely. The split showcases two bands with their own particular style of blackened funeral doom noise but in a setting that allows them to blend and work conceptually together.

This split is one of the few I have heard that comes across having a particular encompassing feel throughout both sides of the release. So while images of graves, empty mausoleums, vacated torture chambers and vast empty skies will generally haunt you, there is an overall crushing weight of anticipation that has found a place to linger in this release. It swells and emanates from the Bosque tracks and is rewarded in the chaos of the Senthil hymns.

The Bosque side of the split, "Under The Capricorn Sky," renders me imaging a populace watching the heaven's collapsing down onto them, but watching the event through the eyes of a single depressed soul, euphorically waiting for the demise of all life. The slow, plodding of the tracks, particularly "Part II," lets you enjoy every moment of the fall of mankind. Brisk sweeping melodies occasionally appear, like desolate winds, drifting across the music. The harmonious "Part III" is the culmination of the disastrous events in similar form as watching an avalanche close in on you. The tumbling tones of all the Bosque tracks are unique and something worth losing yourself in. While most of the vocals are of a screeched, insane variety, similar to Countess, there are moaning chanting moments as well which give the tracks a ritualistic feel to them. The Bosque tracks end with an anticipatory section drifting off in subdued melody, wandering into the long dark night, allowing the lights to close in.

If "Under The Capricorn Sky" is the disastrous event, Senthil's "Premeditation" is the aftermath of suffering. Once again, this theme of anticipation is prevalent. Premeditation's "Part I" is much like walking through a kennel run by animals yet holding humans in cages. The myriad voices and rich textures envelope the senses. Much more noise shines through on this side of the split; high pitched squeals, obscure distant clanking, drugged out psychotic barking. Through much of the first track, a throbbing droning tone is prevalent, at once giving way to bizarre horn fellatio which, to my ears, vaguely plays broken parts of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring (mainly "Introduction"). The psychotic barks, voices and disgruntled pleas resume after brief respite once more ejaculated to simple percussion choices. "Part I" ends with a vomit orchestra playing incorrectly tuned tubas and flutes. Imagine that if you can. If you can't find yourself a copy. "Part II" builds nicely for the first several minutes, at times even bordering on beautiful and serene, an absolute juxtaposition to the first part of Senthil's contribution. This spark of solemnity degenerates into more vocal insanity. At times I wanted to laugh at some of the vocal moments though I couldn't bring myself to such release, as I immediately imagined living next to some guy in his basement tracking all these vocal takes. It scared me slightly to imagine myself hearing these noises trying to sleep.

Though both sides of the split offer different experiences, they seem to be part of a single, two part tribulation. Though for me, Senthil's side of the split is a bit too random and chopped up, it deserves a place in any Silencer fan's collection if their tastes vary between the black metal and the funeral doom. The wails and general vocal experimentation would surely capture the ears of fans this side of the spectrum. Myself being less a fan of vocals and more a fan of music, found the two Senthil tracks to be less intriguing than the Bosque side of the split which seemed much more composed and thought out. Though I enjoyed "Part II" of the Senthil tracks for the wonderful building arch of sound smashed together, the degeneration into more vocal bewilderment turned me off at times. The production throughout this spit was adequate and allowed the bands to capture their music without giving up much in return. I would have loved to hear the Bosque tracks with a slightly better production given their general excellent composition and melodic intertwining. I can't say that the production was a detriment however and in hindsight, had the Bosque tracks had a better production, "Under The Capricorn Sky" would have greatly overshadowed Senthil's "Premeditation, leading to an out of balance release.

Imbalanced, but worth your time - 85%

Noktorn, August 13th, 2007

When you first get into funeral doom, pretty much all funeral doom is good. Every new band seems awesome and brilliant or at the very least a tolerable listen. As the years wear on, though, you start to raise your standards more, and the average funeral doom like, say, Remembrance or Ahab doesn't do much for you anymore. And then, after a little while longer, you start to feel a sort of animosity towards the genre itself, despite how many artists you still love in it, simply because there's such a ridiculous volume of completely mediocre work out there.

Funeral doom is realllly fucking hard to screw up, and this isn't about the technical requirement of zero. It's because it's easy to make a funeral doom song. If you've heard The Ethereal or Shape Of Despair or any number of other funeral doom artists you'll know that the ingredients are simple ones that anyone can craft. It's very easy to take a handful of big power chords, small, minimalist lead guitar, sparse drumming and whispery growls and make it into something that's a pleasing listen. Remembrance is fun to listen to! It's dramatic and emotional, even if it is so emotional that it's pretty much a parody of itself. But at the same time, you begin demanding more from funeral doom than just a mere adherence to the basic traits of the genre. You start looking at bands like Thergothon and Skepticism and wondering why no one has been able to copy them correctly, and why everything just sort of sounds like a fifth generation Xerox of Tyranny or Wormphlegm.

So 'Under The Capricorn Sky/Premeditation' is a split between two funeral doom bands, one still quite obscure and the other with its own cult following. Bosque is a pretty unique Portuguese artist that few know of, while Senthil are the guys that did the demo 'Crypticorifislit' which everyone ended up hearing whether they wanted to or not. The former plays a bleak, desolate, weirdly transcendent variety of funeral doom, while the latter are pretty content with emulating the Wormphlegm or Funeralium style of EVOOOL torture doom. The two artists intersect only lightly; darkness, instrumental simplicity and sparseness, morbidity and some degree of depression, etc., but these are mostly just due to the fact that they are both funeral doom bands. When it comes to atmosphere and delivery, each band contributes a completely different and unique aesthetic.

Bosque's 'Under The Capricorn Sky', divided into three tracks, begins the split. Bosque's style of funeral doom is very unique and very good. Long stretches of bleak, desolate clean guitar is soaked in reverb for ambiance, alternating with portions of trudging, sludgy funeral doom. The images that this music conjures are stunningly varied, from bleak, grainy black and white video of graveyards to the slowest and darkest of funeral processions to the emptiest and grandest of cathedrals to, perhaps the most powerfully, the precise image of the artwork that graces this album's cover. The music itself is just as varied, and the moods it describes: bittersweet longing, peace, tortured emotional agony, and complete resignation to the world all craft their own moments. Bosque isn't just some of the most evocative funeral doom I've ever heard; it's some of the most evocative music I've ever heard period, and every time I listen to this side it just gets better and better and more beautifully artistic.

Bosque sounds like death. Rather, Bosque sounds like the process of dying slowly yet peacefully. 'Under The Capricorn Sky' is the last thirty-eight delirious minutes of your life as you finally succumb to the ravages of time. Individual sections capture moments of life at the pace of a sunset. All aspects of death are covered, every emotion connected to it and every view of it, crafting one of the most multifaceted pieces of music in the history of the artform. Shimmering pools of digitally distorted guitar like cold water springs in empty caves periodically overflow, gently washing over vocals, either desperately screamed or gently sung cleanly and distantly, over incredibly sparse and slow drumming that sounds only composed of snare and bass drum. No actual bass appears to be present, making the compositions even more hauntingly minimal and brilliant.

Part one's reverbed clean guitar sounds recorded in the tunnel of the cover art, and the rest of the music appears to be the long walk into that burst of light at the end. When the funeral doom commences, vocals burst into painful, desperate screams without hesitation, like some cry towards the heavens for more time, before subsuming into high, dramatic, heartache-fueled funeral doom leads before returning to clean guitar. Part two is perhaps the most traditional; periods of stained-glass funeral doom complete with haunting and distant clean vocals alternate with quiet, distorted ambiance, with rhythm guitar emptying into pure lead in the middle portion, before the two styles combine in the final section, almost discordantly, but harmonizing just enough for a weak species of beauty to be born. The final track, completing the cycle, begins with powerful, loud funeral doom, growing steadily weaker and more frail, before the journey into the light is completed with solitary electric lead guitar and incredibly quiet, subtle, and chill-inducing acoustic accompaniment. The final moments are of such complete peace and finality to be truly the recordings of death. Bosque draws the morbidity, pain and sadness of death and makes it bloom into something beautiful and, though not quite desirable, completely peaceful and tranquil. It's music that shows death as nothing to be feared, but something to embrace when its time is upon you. 'Under The Capricorn Sky' is a masterpiece, pure and simple, and should be heard by any of those who love funeral doom... and life.

Senthil is, needless to say, a bit more straightforward. Infamous for the 'Crypticorifislit' (and later even more infamous for their 'Septisemesis' tape), Senthil's aesthetic of complete musical and physical extremity have attracted more than their share of curious onlookers. Now, in my estimation, Senthil has possibly the best aesthetic in all of funeral doom. Everything they release looks awesome and extremely true. All the various parts are in place for Senthil to be one of the sickest, most depraved bands in the world. Come on, two out of three of their releases contains their blood on at least SOME copies. One of their members died in some unknown circumstance. The lyrics to 'Crypticorifislit' are supposedly based off a real life event, and the few snatches of lyrics that you can read on the 'Septisemesis' tape are similarly morbid and horrific in nature. The stage is set for Senthil to become the greatest Wormphlegm-style torture doom band in the history of the style. We're just waiting for them to come on stage... waiting... waiting...

And it still hasn't happened. Yeah, Senthil's aesthetics and practices are extreme, but their music is pretty damned boring too. The style is less sparse than Bosque's: the drums are a full kit, there's more general activity. And it's a step up from the demo: the riffs are firmer, more established, heavier than before. Of course, the vocals are just as intense and deranged as they were before. But the music is still really thin on ideas. 'Premeditation' is thirty-two minutes of music that could probably be compressed into ten or twelve without difficulty. It's repetitive, and I like repetition, but what's being repeated just isn't that interesting. It's not bad, just very uninteresting. Funeral doom is a pretty still genre in the first place, so if the music needs spicing up, it's probably not best to do it with stretches of dark ambient, probably the only genre of music more static than funeral doom, but that's what Senthil does here: long sections of funeral doom divided by a lengthy section of keyboard dark ambient and completed with lots and lots of instrumental waffling that doesn't really go anywhere.

It is 'extreme' music, but it doesn't seem to lead to much. I never get the impression that the band strangling themselves with chains really takes the music to some level that is unachievable without the extra chain strangling. I never get the feeling that Plague and Vomit are the incredibly awful and sinister people they portray themselves as in the music: I'm pretty sure they have day jobs, pay their bills and go to McDonald's like everyone else. It's weird because this seems to be a problem only really for me and a few other people: 99% of the people that listen to Senthil find it to be incredibly dark, disturbing and affecting music. I don't. It's just sort of boring Wormphlegm emulation with really, really cool layout design. That's wrong; Senthil doesn't really sound like Wormphlegm anymore. Senthil sounds like a really boring version of what Senthil should be. Don't take it from me: you'll probably find this stuff way more intense than I do. But it just doesn't grab me like it supposedly should.

'Under The Capricorn Sky/Premeditation' is a Pale Horse Recordings release, and though there are few so far, they have universally awesome design and layout. The aesthetics of this are top notch. The music is pretty sweet too: Bosque is excellent and Senthil is sort of middling, but the first side alone makes this CD a must-buy for anyone who's into funeral doom. If you consider 'Premeditation' as a sort of bonus song it gets significantly better. So, in short: get it for Bosque and see if Senthil's up your alley. Pale Horse Recordings is a pretty awesome label and distro and deserves your support anyway. Plus, you're getting about an hour of music total. It's a win-win all around.

Doom and Gloom. - 90%

Vega360, May 1st, 2007

I am a huge fan of funeral doom, and in my opinion all the best stuff is underground, so I was thrilled when this split finally arrived in my mailbox. Bosque are pretty much unknown in just about any circle (they have only put out about six songs total), while Senthil are little more popular.

Ill start with the Bosque material first seeing as it appears first on album. Minimalistic is the pretty much a good description. The vocals are different than average funeral doom bands; instead of growls you get more black metal influenced shrieks as well as a couple cleaner parts. I didn’t really catch any guitar parts of drumming that caught my ear; the music is more bass driven and atmospheric.

To give you a general idea of the production take a look at the cover artwork. The music pretty much sounds like it was recorded in a place like that. The sound isn’t condensed it sounds more full and spread out which gives it a kind of glooming somber to it (I founding it calming actually).

The Senthil stuff is down right evil. I’ve herd of these guys strangling each other with chains to make there vocals, and the effect shows. There vocalist actually sounds like he’s dying the majority of the time (I herd him coughing a few times and he probably passed out once or twice), so you can’t fall into the same type of trance as the Bosque songs.

The riffs are very droning similar to a Xasthur song. You don’t hear much in the way of bass or drumming, they are present but not made important seeing there going for a blackened funeral doom hybrid sound.

Overall I found the Bosque stuff more enjoyable than Senthil, mostly because I was looking for the meaningless atmospheric sound. Both bands put forth an amazing output, but there are two contrasting moods on this, one a glooming and bleak nothingness and the other is a depressing chaos that cancels out the first one, so I guess one of the few problems I have with this is the above mentioned atmosphere change. This is good but they could have put this stuff on two EP’s and probably made about as much (if not more) money.