(Andy Synn wrote this review of the new split by Acherontas from Greece and Slidhr from Ireland.)
A good split-release, such as the Nightbringer/Dødsengel effort Circumambulations of the Solar Inferno, the recent Ur Draugr/Haar tag-team, or any of the multitude of Misery Index splits, can be a great place for a band to explore ideas and themes which – for whatever reason – might not fit as part of a full album or which they simply want to stand on their own, while also allowing them the chance to “share the stage” (as it were) with another act of a similar outlook and ethos.
In rare cases, such as last year’s unholy alliance between Dragged Into Sunlight and Gnaw Their Tongues, or the much more recent collaboration between Selvans and Downfall of Nur, both of which err closer to the album than the EP side of things, the split release becomes a true amalgam of both bands, giving birth to something wholly unique in the process.
But, however the bands involved choose to approach it, a good split-release is always an opportunity to make a statement, and this new five-track split (3 by the godless Greeks, 2 by the Irish idolaters) from Acherontas and Slidhr makes one very simple statement of intent indeed… we bleed black, and breathe fire, and we will not be denied our due.
Acherontas photo by Marco Manzi
The triptych of tracks which make up Death of the Ego, the Acherontas side of this split, are certainly a step outside the usual pentagram, concerned as they are not with Satan and his fall, but with Buddhist-derived themes of self-denial and abnegation.
Of course this is nothing new for the band themselves, as many of their records have focussed on themes of Eastern mysticism, from Mesopotamian myth to Hindu hermeticism, but for those expecting a cacophony of hymns to the morning star… well, this split might come as something of a shock.
Beginning with the creeping catechisms of “Wasteland Revived”, a driving, dreamily hypnotic number absolutely drenched in dark atmosphere and occult imagery, it then transitions smoothly into the blistering blaze of the title-track, which assaults and abrades the eardrums with eight minutes of seething riffage, spiteful, neurotic melody, and lethally efficient percussive power, over which Acherontas himself delivers a croaking, growling sermon on the themes of emptiness and nonexistence.
“Dispossession”, the third and final track on this particular side of the coin, is a mournful acoustic number that incorporates a variety of moody melodies and esoteric instruments, and its swaying, seductive motions serve to end the Greek half of the split in suitably enigmatic style.
Slidhr photo by Photophobia Art
Chains of the Fallen, the Slidhr contribution to this vile joint-venture, is arguably a more “traditional” affair than Death of the Ego, dealing as it does with only the darkest and most terrible aspects of human nature.
However, one shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that makes it any less vital or visceral by any means, as the devastating audio massacre of “Chains of the Fallen” is eight minutes of brooding, asphyxiating darkness, all warped, bone-saw guitars, cacophonous drums, and pure, unadulterated malevolence, punctuated by Joseph Deegan’s harrowing, throat-rending howl of hate and indignation.
Things are just as furious and as filthy on “Sentient Flames Consume”, which see Deegan and Einarsson (also of Sinmara) unleashing hell itself in a merciless deluge of mangled, metallic riffs and frenzied blastbeats, while also lacing the track with cyanotic veins of bleak, blasphemously infectious melody which only serve to enhance the decadent and dissonantly depraved atmosphere of the song, which ultimately concludes in a truly unsettling and doom-tinged fashion.
If you’re any sort of a fan of Black Metal, in all its terrible, reverent glory, then you shouldn’t let this one pass you by, as it’s a near-perfect example of both the genre’s punishing core tenets, and its endless creative potential.
This split is available from W.T.C. Productions here: