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Grabunhold / Circle Of Shadows – Lamentationen [Split]

grabunhold / circle of shadows – lamentationen [split]


The ones who are keen to keep an eye on what’s new in the underground of extreme metal must at least have stumbled upon the name of Germany’s Grabunhold. A Black Metal band that has multiple releases out through one of Europe’s leading labels, Iron Bonehead Productions. Both the first demo and EP as well as the band’s debut full-length has seen the light of day through the highly prolific label, so it is to no-one’s surprise that this newest offering, that was released on the very edge of 2023, also has the Iron Bonehead Productions logo on it. This time, however, the band serves us with a piece of vinyl (also released on CD) that they share with Circle Of Shadows from Austria, a band that might be a little less known and also still has to release a full-length album.

First up on this split LP is Grabunhold, a band that seem to get better with each subsequent release. Although I loved their “Auf Den Hügelgräberhöhen”-demo from 2017, it was a rather raw affair. At least, when compared to the level of musicality the band currently is now in. But ever since the band’s earliest steps, the band perfected and refined their craft with each new recording. It might not be all too unpredictable that Grabunhold’s part of the split LP sounds closest to the band’s last recording, the ‘Heldentod’-debut album from 2021. For those who have not yet heard the music of this threesome: Grabunhold is a prime example of Pagan Black Metal in the non-flashy fashion. There is a strong connection to the Pagan sound of the 90’s, but not all too much in the Einherjer or Thyrfind way, let alone the more commercial exit that bands like Finntroll took. Yet, Grabunhold’s vision of the Pagan theme is too meticulously cemented in catchy melodies and overall song writing, but they definitely keep it far from the over-the-top sort of goofing or showboating. Ironically, the most epic track is the closing one of these three new songs, ‘Lebewohl’. It is a song that has nothing to do with metal, but sounds more heroic and grandiose than anything the band has managed to bring to the table so far. A truly beautiful Folky song in which the band’s Pagan DNA really springs to life.

The other side is Circle Of Shadows’, a band that has been releasing two demo’s, an EP and a split tape before teaming up with Grabunhold for this new split LP. And, while Circle Of Shadows clearly is finding their musical inspiration from different sources, they turn out to be a good match for the Germans. Circle Of Shadows is not as Pagan-minded as Grabunhold, but they do hold a similar sense for melodicism. Yet, they do forge their musical ideas more in a common sort of Black Metal mould. While that might have a bit of a negative connotation, that is absolutely not they it should be taken. You could easily say that Circle Of Shadows is taking just the trodden paths of Black Metal, but that doesn’t mean they have nothing to offer – on the contrary, when something is done right, it is done right. The duo offers a splendid exercise in riff-based and melodic Black Metal. It is both catchy and extremely well-written, positioning themselves somewhere between typical Swedish and Finnish Black Metal. There are clearly hints of bands like Satanic Warmaster in a slightly more Atmospheric and late 90’s German way. It might not all be that flawless, but it is definitely a step up from their previous releases and it certainly feels like the band is ready for a full-length album.

As a conclusion of sorts it can be said that ‘Lamentationen’ has turned out as a solid split LP on which both bands showcased (some of) their best material to date. Neither band is really on top of their respective games, but it is abundantly clear that they both are progressing and offer a more than entertaining listen that has also been attractively presented by Iron Bonehead Productions.

Circle of Shadows

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