We tend to take the often extravagant rhetoric in press releases about forthcoming records with a grain of salt. The one we received about the new split by Sartegos and Balmog, which is being released on vinyl by Caverna Abismal Records today, concluded with the claim that it “is essential short-length listening for those sworn to the dark”. In this instance, the music backed that claim to the hilt. The split includes only one song by each band, but each one is diabolically brilliant.
As gratifying as it was to make that discovery, it really was not at all surprising. Both of these bands from Galicia in Spain have already proven their worth and earned the allegiance of discerning followers in the black metal underground. These tracks prove it all over again.
We have premiere streams of both at the end of this post, preceded by some introductory remarks about the bands for those who might be new to them, and impressions of the music.
SARTEGOS: “Lume do Visitante – Morrer no Nas”
My own introduction to Sartegos came through their 2013 EP, As Fontes Do Negrume (“The Origin Of Darkness”). Upon hearing the first advance track, “Meianoite No Jardim De Deus” (“Midnight In God’s Garden”), I was moved to write:
“The ghastly words sound as if they’re bubbling up through a lava pool in a caldera, the air rendered opaque with the suffocating stench of sulphur. Primitive occult riffs vibrate with unholy energy. The muffled thump of drums roll like an avalanche of skulls hitting a barren plain. A twisted guitar melody echoes like the recital of a satanic liturgy across the vault of a hellish cathedral. And damned if the thing won’t hook you right through the gills.
And as I heard more of the EP, I became even more convinced of the ability of these black/death plague carriers to deliver exotic melody and harrowing ferocity at the same time. The conviction only grew stronger three years later when they participated in a split release (Resvrrezionespiritval) with Ysengrin, which Semjaza of Thy Darkened Shade included in his 2016 year-end list for our site, with praise.
Their song for this newest split, “Lume do Visitante – Morrer no Nas“, is cold and crepuscular, but also a manifestation of unchained chaos and occult reverence. Through the high, buzzing riff-work and battering, head-nodding percussion, the lead-guitar melody resonates with a feeling that’s unearthly, and demented. The song further includes segments of rapid-fire guitar flurries and soloing with an exotic air, both flickering and fluid.
The main vocals are simply horrifying, a kind of crocodilean growl that chills the blood… until near the end when the voice changes into a near-chant, solemn but passionate, intoning the words over a fierce melody. And thus the music becomes mystical as well as mortifying.
Until late last year I had written about a few of the other projects in which the members of Balmog have been involved (e.g., the superb Marthyrium), but I had neglected the works of this Galician band, who had previously released two albums and numerous demos, splits, and EPs since 2006. And then late last year I encountered a track from their third album, Vacuum, which will be released by War Anthem Records and Black Seed Productions in March. As I wrote then, I was struck by the success of the song (“Hodegetria”) in combining a feeling of ominous mystical wonder with the impact of bone-breaking heaviness, creating sensations of forbidding grandeur, frightening eeriness, and full-throttle rampaging.
My only complaint about that dramatic, intense song was that I wished it were longer. It made me eager not only for the new album but also for this new split with Sartegos.
Balmog’s creation for the split is “Venomous“, and so it is. It’s also a dynamic piece of music, in part an expression of violent chaos, in part a source of chilling, ritualistic atmosphere. The song greets the listener with a choking gale of cyclonic riffing, thundering drums, and vampiric vocal madness. As the drum rhythm changes and the pacing slows, the melodic currents in the music seem to become even more pestilential. Later, over a prominent bass-and-drum pulse with a ritualistic feeling, the guitarist traces a strange and disturbing melody, grim and grievous, poisonous and alien.
Further eruptions of violence lie ahead, through which a deranged melody whirls, as well as stop-start bursts of simmering evil. The music manages to be both cold and fiery, and damned effective at riveting the listener’s attention.
Caverna Abismal will release this split on January 31 in a 7″ vinyl edition. It comes with striking cover art and layout by A.R. Castelao. For more info about the release and how to get it, check the links below.