Sometimes split releases consist of songs re-purposed from other releases, or by bands whose music doesn’t seem to complement each other very well, even if they’re good enough standing alone. But neither of those deficiencies is in evidence on the new black metal split by Nefarious Spirit and Void Prayer that we’re premiering today in its entirety. All six songs on this split (three from each band) are exclusive to this record, and although one band is a newcomer and the other a more well-established force, their music fits together hand-in-glove, sharing a similar sorcerous spirit and a common fiery intensity. The result is an album-length union that makes a striking and memorable impact.
The split will be released by Goatowarex on the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere (December 21st), a momentous occasion going back to ancient times, and a fitting occasion for the advent of this album.
With but a demo from 2016 to their name prior to this split, Nefarious Spirit are a mysterious new horde from Greece, their membership so far unknown. They begin the split with “Haunted Skulls – Demise of the Holy“, and it does indeed set the stage in haunting fashion, revealing a collage of strange sounds surrounded by organ music that seems both funereal and demented, the notes glimmering, warbling, and spiraling… But with a shriek, the music suddenly becomes a storm of percussive hammering and a dense shroud of frenzied riffing, with a segue into more dismal tones and a more measured cadence. The echoing vocals are somewhere between a growl and a howl, somewhere between a rabid lycanthrope and a bellowing minotaur. The song will get your head nodding, and near the end the melody soars in a gloriously wild and fiery display of ecstasy.
“Destructive Impulses“, on the other hand, begins rampaging immediately, driven by thundering beats interspersed with maniacal tumbling progressions, the riffing a blaze of ebullience right from the beginning, and the vocals equally unhinged. The gleaming, glowing leads, as in the previous song, have an almost celestial quality in their sound, and a feeling of hellish ebullience (matched by the fierce athleticism of the drumming) — which is counterbalanced by the mad savagery of the rapidly whirring riffs.
The last of the Nefarious Spirit tracks is a song that shares the band’s name and appeared on the debut demo, but the version here was recorded live. The sound has a more rough and raw quality, and perhaps an even more feral and ferocious feeling, than the two preceding studio recordings, but channels the same kind of electrifying wildness. The fleet-fingered fretwork (which includes bouts of berserker soloing) and rocket-propelled drumwork prove to be equally impressive in a live setting, the pulsating bass delivers mighty grooves, and the vocals are perhaps even more terroristic.
Void Prayer (previously known as Cave Ritual) are from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and its members are part of the Black Plague Circle, which also includes Nigrum Ignis Circuli, Deathcircle, Niteris, and Obskuritatem. Their previous releases under the Void Prayer name include a 2014 self-titled demo, a 2017 debut album entitled Stillbirth From the Psychotic Void, and a 2019 demo, L’appel du vide (“the call of the void”), which we commented about here. The three songs on Void Prayer‘s side of the split make compelling additions to an already impressive discography.
The opening of the first track, “Void Seeker“, creates a contrast with the last Nefarious Spirit track — it has a stately and ceremonial pace, and the riffing channels a feeling of sinister grandeur. Even when the rhythm changes and becomes livelier, that atmosphere of poisonous majesty persists. The prominent bouncing bass tones greatly enhance the song’s head-moving aspects, but what this is all leading to is a war-charge of galloping drums, rapidly thrumming low-frequency tones, and incendiary riffing, which proves what a good match Void Prayer makes for Nefarious Spirit (and vice-versa). The vocals also have a continuously unhinged quality, venting serrated-edge snarls with venomous intensity.
Void Prayer‘s second track, a cover of the Black Cilice song “To Become“, is mid-paced and grim at first, but also pulsing and proud, Void Prayer send the song toward the heavens (the vocalist sends his voice soaring too), with riffing that has a sweeping, panoramic quality, while at the same time swirling in glorious frenzies. The band slow the racing tempo, creating a mystical atmosphere, but also deliver a dose of killer heavy-metal riffing before surging into a full-on gallop to herald the return of that majestic, sky-high melody.
As “Prayers Null and Void” begins, the hard thrust of the bass and the determined crack of the snare get their grip on your head right away, but the music also has a mysterious quality, a sorcerous atmosphere that grows increasingly unchained as the riffing swirls with abandon and the rhythm section begins to fly. The band’s rhythmic dynamism, already demonstrated in the first two songs, is on display here again, as is the scintillating glory of the riffing and the barbaric lunacy of the vocals. The music races, romps, bounds, and backs off at the end in order to unfurl a grand tapestry of sound that will cause the clawed hands of listeners to lift toward the stars. It’s a tremendous infernal finale capable of carrying you upward and away, a hallowed and hellish experience to be sure.
Goatowarex is proud to present this very special split on vinyl LP format, and pre-order info will be provided at these locations: