I do love a four way split release, and unlike some releases of this kind, all four bands on this World Terror Committee offering get a very decent amount of time to show off their wares. So then on to the protagonists and first up we have a Greek duo whose thinking and concepts are on a higher plain of consciousness, Thy Darkened Shade. Next up is Viennese Black Metal band Amestigon whose latter work has moved away from the staple subject matter of Satanism and now focuses more on real life issues. Inconcessus Lux Lucis hail from Manchester in the UK and bash out a more orthodox BM fare, and finally Norwegian band Shaarimoth mix things up a little with their own blend of Blackened Death Metal.
Thy Darkened Shade set the tone with an eerie intro track that lays out the Occult leanings of this release before firing into rampaging drum tones, extremely prominent bass play and accented, shouted vocals that suit the bands style well. In truth TDS rely more on bass leads and unrelenting beats to move things forward, with the guitar play more focused on atmospherics. Interestingly the vocals flick between aggression and ritualistic chants and the lyrics contained within are superbly written, broodingly Occult and as dark as the music this accompany. TDS though are more than darkness and aggression, and their technical prowess and superb song writing ability leads to some engaging melodic interludes. That being said, ‘Daathian Reveries and Gamaliel Revelations’ in particular is a blistering attack of heathenistic Black Metal with nothing more in mind than brutal dominion over all. TDS end with a ritual, ‘Return of the Ancient Ones, a perfect way to mark the twilight of their time and open up to the dawn of Amestigon.
In a complete contrast to TDS, Amestigon build slowly through soothing bass rhythms, clean guitar tones and a disciplined drumming style. Opener ‘The Slant Serpent’ shares the ritualistic nature of the previous band but come at it from a totally different angle, building and progressing slowly, melody rising inch by inch until finally culminating in harsh, engaging guitar leads and shouted/growled vocal work, topped up with harmonic technical flourishes from the guitars. Without warning the track moves into an intensive/grating rhythm, harsh noise collaborating with almost whispered vocals before tailing off into ‘Maelstrom in the Lower Octave’, whose chanted vocal beginnings and cold, rising guitar tones cast a bitterly evil aura. It isn’t until Amestigon’s final offering of ‘The Tortuous Serpent’ that the band cut themselves loose from the ritualistic and spread their sings into full blown aggression, tethered somewhat by the bands more icy melodic tendencies. After so much build up Amestigon deliver, and deliver hard, with a vocal style similar to Primordial’s and a Black/Death style to the harsh guitar tones and drumming similar to some of the BM coming out of Iceland. This is a band who back up their impressive musicianship with a real sense of showmanship and flair for song-writing, especially in the art of building suspense.
On to the UK’s entry into this already spectacular split release, and Inconcessus Lux Lucis weigh in with five tracks, three of which are instrumental. A bombastic orchestral opener leads to the unexpected, almost Speed Metal like guitar leads and filthy vocal styles of ‘The Osseous Gulf’, a rip roaring track of blistering blast-beat fuelled carnage that again contrasts spectacularly with the previous two offerings. Where as both TDS and Amestigon went to great lengths to build brooding malevolent auras, ILL come at things from a more brutalist angle, slaying with a savagery not yet seen on this release. You have some of your BM tropes within, some tremolo picking, unrelenting drum tones and glacial guitar leads, yet ILL have an intensity and bestial nature than some BM bands simply lack. If the intro was all bombast and ceremony, the half time melodic interlude is a surprising display of Spanish guitar, subtle bass tones and harmonic undertones that swiftly leads to ‘Liminal Terror (The Witch’s Curse)’, which whilst lowering the pace somewhat seems to still increase the viciousness of the ILL attack. It’s a fair groovier effort than the previous tracks but still packed with malice and sleaze. ‘Into Feral Fumes of Sanctification’ moves us onto the last band with an altogether different style of interlude. This one is dark, brooding and intent on darkness, and sees ILL enter into the ritualistic nature of the split.
Shaarimoth finish things off, though at over twenty five minutes in length, they certainly don’t get the shitty end of the stick. To start with things follow on from the end of the last track until the band kick into crushing, slow riffs, ice cold Black Metal guitar leads, thunderous drumming and pummelling bass, all rounded off with uncompromising growls. From malevolent beginnings comes sheer destruction, a raucous belligerent battering of sound, all with a darkened undertone of creeping evil, rising to the surface occasionally to spew forth blackness. ‘…Flows the Blood of Retribution’ is an interesting track, somewhere between an 80’s horror synth soundtrack and cultist rambling before rising from this very odd interlude into slow, griping and harsh sounding bleak Death Metal with furious, almost pleading vocal work, that then leads to some pretty catchy chugging riffs and beats mixed with massively intensive shredding. It sounds like it should be a mess of a song but it really does work, despite all the various influences and meanderings. To finish with, Shaarimoth bring out the big guns, a near twelve minute epic entitled ‘…And Salvation Everlasting’ which starts humble, with chants and a bizarre assortment of tones, plus more 80’s horror tropes and also sci-fi (I’m getting Bladerunner vibes) before laying it on thick for one final bout of supreme carnage.
A bloody long split release if the truth be told, but dammit this is four high quality bands who all bring something to the table and despite their differences all four add something to the releases overall occult theme. I highly recommend not only this release but listening to all four bands back catalogues. (Marksson)