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Urfaust. - 75%

Perplexed_Sjel, May 18th, 2009

This is the shit wet dreams are made of. Think about it with a clear mind, I know when I did, I urinated in my panties a bit. The Ruins of Beverast, a fantastic one man band from Germany, alongside Urfaust, an innovator operator of cleanly sung black metal from the Netherlands. If this isn’t a split consisting of two contrasting legends, I don’t know what is! Even though my opinion of this split varies, I still consider it a worthwhile purchase due to the fact that we’re seeing two legends in the making participate together for the first, and perhaps last time. Let us begin with Urfaust, seeing as they’re the first band to participate on this monumental split. This Dutch band are well known in black metal circles due to their orchestral style, which consists of a unique breed of clean vocals, though they’re screamed at the top of the vocalists lungs. This two man double act, consisting of members named IX and VRDRBR (which sounds like some sort of deviant sexual disease), are a curious band who like to have their fans enter the surreal realms of black metal with mystical soundscapes that rely heavily on guitars and a vocal approach that will satisfy the needs of the experimental hunter gatherer who takes it upon him or herself to explore the most outrageous bands within the genre that is black metal. Well, here you have it, Urfaust.

This two man Dutch band are one of the strangest I’ve heard, though they’re not alone in their approach. A certain Circle of Ouroborous have also taken it upon themselves to use a similar sort of vocals. In my opinion, Urfaust are the more convincing and certainly more charming band, though I haven’t really paid as much attention to the Finnish band as much as I perhaps should, especially considering the fact that they’ve recently covered a Joy Division hit - a band whom I am particularly fond of. Both bands may use this mystical approach, but in varying ways. Urfaust use less acoustics and more thrust in terms of the repetitive black metal guitars, which are mostly tremolo based. This hypnotic style, though repetitive, seems fresh in the mind from beginning to end as Urfaust collectively run through the experimental realms of surreal metal as if they know it like the back of their hand. I’m pleased to hear that the band have continued with this style on the split, though it is unfortunate that the band altered between the first and the second full-length records. One is certainly more atmospheric than the other and this would fall into the second record category of less atmospheric, but more mature and professional in sound. ‘Vom Geist Der Schwere’ isn’t the pinnacle of Urfaust’s career, but is worthy of a split release with my more favoured The Ruins of Beverast. I give this section 75%.

The second song, The Ruins of Beverast entrée into the mix is entitled ‘The Moselle Enigma... is a Tale About All That Frightens Man’ and, on first impressions, is the exact opposite of what I have expected. Is this meant to be experimental? Is this a sign of things to come? In more ways than one I’m hoping not since this song is a complete let down. It seems as if Alexander von Meilenwald has specifically created a song so different from the songs present on the two full-lengths in order to merely keep up with Urfaust’s style of dynamic play. This song could be considered something from the ‘Rain Upon The Impure’ era for the German one man band, but it certainly isn’t as constructive. The atmosphere is a let down, though the ambient passages, with hollow chanting of a seemingly religious kind do fit nicely in the dense sound which contains samples of falling rain and Alexander von Meilenwald’s spoken voice over the top, though his voice is still distorted to full affect. His vocals are an issue here too, which is disappointing. They’re not on top form. His voice isn’t as appealing as it once was and pales in comparison to the vocals present on the Urfaust side, which are truly and epically unique in every way possible. The production, which is scratchy does him no favours.

It doesn’t highlight his voice well and, at times, he can sound a bit like Wrest on Lurker of Chalice, without the dark presence. Nothing about this song stands out as a major positive. It floats between mediocrity and the unknown whilst toiling with the idea of really setting the place of fire with some impressive guitars, but it never quite lives up to the immense expectations that Alexander von Meilenwald has set himself given his previous performances and future performances to date. Musicianship isn’t exactly an issue. We all know he’s a talented musician, hence the disappointment, but there are questions over the direction of the song and why Alexander von Meilenwald allowed the production to ruin the cold atmosphere at the heart of the song. ‘Rain Upon The Impure’ took a long time to get used to, for me, given its vastly contrasting production, so I imagine this will be the same, given time. However, I’m not sure I’ll allow it the time to fuse its sorrowful ways into my system, despite the fact that there is some interesting instrumentation and limitless talent. One for the die hard fans. I give this section 62%.