Three excellent Greek black metal bands — Moeror, Human Serpent, and Kvadrat — have just released a split in support of a charitable endeavor which they describe as follows:
“All funds gathered through this split release are donated to help and support animals that were affected in the recent Greek wildfires. The consequences of which are going to heavily affect the hurt areas for the years to come. We witnessed the death of an ecosystem and we are facing a new reality that needs every bit of our help. Our goal is to gather funds that will cover the cost of medical care, food and the financial support for the early costs of an adoption”.
By now, many of us are painfully aware of the devastation that out-of-control fires have inflicted throughout Greece, a catastrophe that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has described as a “natural disaster of unprecedented proportions”. It has forced the evacuation of dozens of villages and spawned rage against the government’s handling of the fires, but evacuations have not helped the animals caught up in the conflagrations. And thus the cause supported by this release is a worthy one.
As you’ll discover from our complete stream of the split at the end of this review, the music is also tremendously good, making the purchase of this release a true win-win situation. (The entire split is available now on each band’s Bandcamp page.)
firefighters in the village of Glatsona on Evia island, Greece, August 9.
The split includes two songs by Moeror. “Deep Vanity in the Pulses of Emptiness” rages from the beginning, through a fierce surge of blasting drums, writhing and whirling riffage, and scalding screams. The music soars and skitters, generates long chord fanfares and feverish rippling leads, and creates sensations of anguish and pain. The music is electrifying, head-hooking, and creates moments of tragic grandeur, but the emotional turmoil and desolation of the sounds are unmistakable.
Moeror‘s second track, “Vestiges of a Failed Mutation“, creates an immediate contrast, combining crashing piano chords, storm-like ambient abrasion, and distant voices to build an atmosphere that’s haunting, harrowing, and hallucinatory. Eventually, a piano melody emerges that’s stricken with grief, shedding tears in the midst of ominous tonal radiations.
Human Serpent (whose 2021 album Heirlooms Eternal we reviewed here) also contributes two tracks to the split. As our reviewer wrote about the band’s latest album, “Human Serpent have long mastered the art of sounding raw on a black metal release, but with a lethal mind for melodic lines that seem to emerge from the smoke within each song”, and those qualities are also present on these two tracks, even though both are very quick (and connected) hits.
In about one minute, “Nature’s Shroud Against Humanity” pounds and eviscerates, sending gales of blazing guitar sweeping across blasting and bursting drums and savage screams. Those searing guitar tides, though they don’t last long, are immediately memorable, and both melancholy and desperate in their mood.
At nearly two minutes “Shrouds of the Fall” is nearly twice as long. Like Moeror‘s second track, it features piano. Indeed, the song is a classically inspired piano instrumental backed by symphonic strings. It translates the same melody as the one that sweeps across “Nature’s Shroud…”, but does so in a very different way. It’s a plaintive piece, one that channels frustration and sorrow in enthralling fashion.
The split closes with Kvadrat‘s “Απομόνωση“. We premiered and reviewed this band’s debut EP in June of this year, and strongly urge you to hear it if you haven’t already. As we wrote then:
“These four songs are absolutely breathtaking in their intensity and sonic power — dense, near-overwhelming, onslaughts of sound capable of swallowing a listener whole — but they are somehow also strangely mesmerizing. The music rings as well as ravages, and while it’s unnerving in its discordance, it can also seem heavenly — if the heavens were on fire.”
“Απομόνωση” is the longest track on the split, and is a stunning strike. It unleashes a typhoon of extreme turbulence through maniacally battering drums, unhinged screams, and a a superheated fever of riffing whose dissonant tones manifest madness and despair. In the low end, it sometimes sounds like a high-speed earthquake in progress, with darting guitar motifs flickering above it in unsettling ways. There are also brief, hallucinatory subsidences in the maelstrom, which make the resurgence of those violent storms even more breathtaking.
The entire experience is unnerving, and senses-shattering. It swallows you up, and given the purpose of this split, it’s natural to interpret it as being engulfed in flames, torn by fear, with no way out.