When this new split becomes available in physical form, you’ll be able to hold it comfortably in the palm of your hand. Just a little plastic case with spools of tape inside, more fragile than your phone and weighing just a couple of ounces. Such an unassuming little thing… even with that nasty visage gazing back at you from the cover with bleeding eyes. It seems so incongruous compared to the weight and power of the monstrous sound lurking within, waiting patiently for the chance to get at your mind, like the horde of evils in Pandora’s box.
The two Philadelphia-area bands participating in this split are Lithotome and Moros. Both are somewhat secretive; neither has a long history of releases; both are stacked with talent of a particular kind, which is on full display in this split. Both also happen to be bands I’ve been ardently wishing would give us new music, and now they finally have — and you shall hear it right here, in advance of its release by Dullest Records.
Lithotome’s lone release before this one was a self-titled album released in 2013, but man, what an album it was. If you’ve never heard it, you really should (here). To quote from my review (because if I don’t, who will?):
“This black/death ritual is dense and atmospherically bleak and daunting, but there is such variety in the rhythms and pacing, such ominous power in the needling riffs and malignant vocals, and such an invasive effect from the morbid melodies that the album proves riveting throughout its roughly 40-minute length, providing an apocalyptic vision into an indigo realm populated by monsters. It’s both highly disturbing and highly magnetic…. superb.”
When that previous album was recorded, Lithotome’s line-up included Alex Poole (Chaos Moon, Skáphe, Esoterica, Krieg), Neill Jameson (Krieg, ex-Twilight), Jack and Steven Blackburn (Esoterica), and Dan Martin (ex-Vrolok). For the song you’re about to hear, Lithotome has been boiled down to Alex Poole on guitars and drums and Neill Jameson on vocals. They still sound like a goddamned army, an army of the night.
The Lithotome song on this split is “Witch of A Thousand Teeth”. It opens and closes with reverberating medieval chants, and in between is a titanically crushing onslaught of deep, pulverizing riffs that grind like immense demolition machines tearing whole cities into rubble, coupled with neck-snapping, thundering drumwork.
Behind the unrelenting black immensity of these sounds are seething, deranged lead guitar frenzies, and the vocals are absolutely frightening — harrowing howls, abyssal roars, throat-slitting shrieks. The combined result of all these ingredients is a chaotic, void-faring sonic assault that’s both overpowering and deeply atmospheric — generating a palpable aura of unearthly, inhuman, malignant horror.
Like Lithotome, Moros have only one release prior to this split, an EP from last year called Life Assisted Suicide, and it was a hell of a debut (which you should check out here if you haven’t already). To quote myself again (yay!), when I finally got around to writing about the EP six months late:
“Life Assisted Suicide may not be quite as ugly or as heartless as a few other sludge/doom releases I can think of, but your outlook on the future still won’t improve much after you hear it. Most of the time it’s as cold and primitive as a python and as grim as a sucking chest wound. But it will rattle your skull hard, and if you’re like me, you’ll find its poisonous melodies still stuck in your head well after the music stops…. a very bleak but very impressive first outing.”
The impressive qualities of that brutally unforgiving debut should have come as no surprise, since the Moros triumvirate consists of people who’ve honed their chops in some other very good bands: guitarist/vocalist Jason Dost (Krieg, Occult 45), bassist John Hauser (Occult 45), and drummer Drew (Lonesummer, Angelcrust).
The strange, isolated, reverberating notes at the beginning of this song, coupled with a vocal sample, quickly succeed to creating a dismal overhang… but it’s nothing compared to what happens when the whole band come into the picture. “Pulverizing” is too tame a word for the effect of the slow, massive, vibrating chords and crushing drum and cymbal strikes. As the song’s tempo increases to bulldozing speed, with the wrenching vocal agonies reaching a fever pitch, the music becomes even more destructive, but no less brutally bleak.
The song continues to build in intensity, eventually reaching a frenzy and then falling back into a relentless (and successful) effort to pound the living shit out of you and send your soul into outer darkness — without ever losing hold of the dismal melody that lives within this monstrosity, and eventually takes up residence in your head.
P.S. Just today, Moros have made a new shirt available for purchase (here). The wording on the shirt proclaims, “My Kingdom… Is Made Of Shit and Piss“. That message comes through loud and clear on this track.
The Lithotome-Moros split will be released later this fall by Dullest Records, and will soon be available for ordering at the Bandcamp page below.
And I would like to close with a personal appeal to both bands: PLEASE don’t make me wait much longer for a longer release. I’m old and my days are numbered.