NWBMAh the irony of having a 4 track split piece of vinyl before me digitally to review. Naturally if you have one of those old gramophone whatchamacallits lying around you can add this to your wax collection if you so wish. Is it worthy of doing so, naturally and if you are a lover of extreme metal I think it is fair to say in an elitist sense that you are one of a group of people still most likely to still favour vinyl over other forms of distributed music.

Anyway the title of this is pretty self-explanatory giving you “four apocalyptic spells of USBM madness.” For me it was a case of hearing three bands for the first time and getting a new track by an old favourite. If you read between the lines you will find that members of the bands are often intertwined for the recording purposes of this disc. Starting off on side a) we have Bitter Peace who are a duo from Connecticut and who have apart from this released one album prior to it. Their ‘Ageless Conquering Wolves’ really brings the NWO to the table with samples, an incendiary rage and a bit of a driving industrial edge to the chaotic scything black metal spilling out the speakers. Guitars are shrill and scythe in a tumult that reminds a little of French band Blacklodge and the fury of the piece really does suggest the end of the world is just about to be delivered in a veritable hell-storm of fire. Lingering behind the generally spat out hateful vocal approach there are some clear parts and the whole short track gels together well leaving me wanting to hear more. Esoterica next, anther duo from Pennsylvania and one with I note a member of Benighted In Sodom and one of Vital Remains in their ranks. Their ‘O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing’ is to me the most hateful, primitive and acerbic track on here. Not to say that it is not good as the savagery and unrelenting bestial guitar assault along with howling and at times demonic vocals really goes for the throat. This is meaty and despite the somewhat suitably thin production a number that has the vortex fuelled power to really decimate in its under three minute running time.

Onto side b) and as an innovator of USBM in general it would have been completely unthinkable previously to have uttered the words that the Krieg track is the most melodic one on this 7”. It is however and it also has by far the best defined sound compared to the previous destruction ritual just heard. ‘This Time I’ll Really Leave You To Down’ has a really depressive feel from the guitar and bass tones reminding a little of Lifelover and even Katatonia. The melody is excellent and really does allow you to drown within it and the excellent gurgled vocals from Imperial are the defining crown on this abject slab of misery. Finally we come to The Many who could well be Legion but seem to be down at least partly to record label honcho Nathan Kite. Nice thick sound from guitars and feral rasps from the vocals see ‘Infinite Wisdom’ slowly getting its bite in. This unfolds at a doom laden crawl along with sinister samples talking about ‘the devil’ and crafting a somewhat arcane atmosphere. Vocals take on a black mass sort of orientation, you feel as though the legion is spreading and then clean vocals take over crooning what sounds like “son of a bitch” and rising to a harmonic pitch that remind a little of The Pixies. All very odd, but yet again leaving me wanting to hear more.

I do not like giving marks to something like this as it only gives me a few minutes of each band but overall this is very strong in all respects (including the excellent striking artwork) and well worth checking out.

(Pete Woods)