In the most rudimentary sense, split releases provide a vehicle for the participating bands to each release new songs in between more extensive releases of their own music, while allowing listeners the chance to sample the works of more than one band at a time. But of course there’s no assurance that the combination of songs from different projects in a single release will do any more than that. Whether the songs actually complement each other, and combine in a way that creates a holistic listening experience that’s greater than the sum of its parts, is a very different issue.
The split release we’re premiering today, entitled Vortex, is one that does go beyond a mere bolting together of singles from more than one group. The two up-and-coming black metal bands who are involved — Ophidian Coil from Serbia and Septuagint from Greece — do not follow identical paths in the music you’ll find here, but there is a “chemistry” between them. The songs of each band, though different in their strategies, exhibit a kind of “spiritual” union in which the different dimensions of Luciferian sound combine in a way that creates a near-30-minute experience that’s immersive — and chilling.
We invite you to listen to these four songs below, an opportunity that coincides with the release of Vortex by Deathhammer Records. And of course we have some thoughts about the music to share as well.
The two songs by OPHIDIAN COIL follow a 2014 demo by the band and their 2015 EP, Denial | Will | Becoming. Both tracks are “physically” powerful and electrifying in their intensity.
“Covenant of the Daemon“, the longest track on Vortex at more than nine minutes, is a slow build toward explosive madness. Mid-paced at first, with a lurching gait, the crack and thud of the drums undergirds a piercing riff, whose minor-key melody creates a weird and esoteric aura. The drums begin blasting when the frighteningly vicious vocals arrive, roaring and howling, and the melody becomes more bleak and dire but no less mystical. As a further step in the build toward a truly ravishing plateau of sound, vibrantly jabbing chords and moaning, wailing notes also surface.
After a bridge of swarming notes, the song unleashes a storm of maniacal blasting and boiling, deliriously deranged tremolo riffing, with extravagant howls over it all. The music has transformed into a manifestation of cold, cruel ecstasy, accented by a wailing solo that’s both exotic and mesmerizing. The music continues to surge to even greater heights of electrifying intensity, which persists until the end, although deep chant-like vocals arrive in the midst of this maelstrom of sound (solemn and reverent in the midst of this cyclone), as do those vibrantly slashing chords from earlier in the song — and there’s one more solo that brings the track to a close, one that’s fluid and serpentine this time, and then incandescent in its flashing and swirling extravagance.
Though not quite as long as the first track, “Azalel’s Phosphoressence” is also tremendously impressive. This time, heavy, tyrannical, hammering chords combine with skittering and swarming arpeggios and thunderous drumming, and soaring cries are interwoven with the savagery of the harsh vocals. An ominous, writhing, ear-worming riff creates an aura of fearsome, pitch-black majesty along with the sensations of explosive torment and turmoil.
By this point in the song Ophidian Coil haven’t yet reached the electrifying fever pitch of intensity that they delivered in the opening track — but they soon will. After a bridge, they discharge an assault of skull-shocking blast-beats, and a feverish, gripping lead that swirls like a fire elemental, lending an air of penetrating melancholy within the storm of sound, and burrowing ever deeper into the listener’s head as it extends straight through the end of this powerhouse track
The two songs by SEPTUAGINT were preceded by their Negative Void Trinity EP released in 2014 and by their 2015 split with Akrotheism, Sphinx – The Great Enigma of Times (reviewed at our site here).
As noted at the outset, Septuagint pursue a different musical strategy than Ophidian Coil, creating both a contrast and a devilish complement.
Dismal, minor-key notes and long groaning tones ring out above the methodical thump of a drum in the opening of “Dark Night“. Joined by a howling, flesh-scarring voice, the music creates an oppressive atmosphere of dread and doom, which becomes more tension-filled when the drum begins to rumble faster. When the rhythm slows again, it is to provide space for a pairing of shrill, unnerving guitar and moody bass notes. Wailing cries augment this new feeling, which is both queasy and hallucinatory.
The drums thunder again, creating new percussive patterns as the guitar continuing to buzz like a virus, and to close the song the rhythm jackhammers as the guitar sends out flares of strange melody. It’s a very uneasy and disorienting experience, but Septuagint aren’t finished with their diabolical attack on your sanity.
“Through Sacrifice and Sorcery I Conjure the Names of Lilith” is indeed sorcerous — and very disturbing. A dissonant reverberating guitar harmony, sinister and diseased in its atmosphere, vibrates over a mid-paced, head-nodding drum rhythm. When the drums cease altogether, those unnerving reverberations persist, accompanied by wretched yells, and when the drums return, the lead becomes a mewling wretched sound itself, while the vocalist issues savage, vehement proclamations.
The drums do begin thundering, and when that happens the chords ring out dreadful tones and then flare in a manifestation of macabre ecstasy. There’s also a big thumping rhythm matched with the guitars’ execution of a bizarre, disturbing harmony. This song ends with the rhythm section charging like a piston-pumping freight train from hell while the guitars exhale a vibrating pestilential haze.
The cover art for Vortex was created by Opposition Artworks. Deathhammer will release the split in an A5-digibook format. Check the link below for ordering details, and for more info about the bands.