I’ve always had a lot of musical joy from split albums, I very rarely feel disappointed with them. In a way I guess it’s the fact you’re getting two EPs for the price of one, and especially when filled with material specifically written for the release (rather than throwaway demo or live tracks), each bands creative juices are condensed into a short amount of tracks that really allow the artists to musically manifest themselves to a satisfying degree (hell, there might even be one-upmanship thrown into the mix too). Many a time I’ve bought a split featuring a single band I like, only to be blown away to a greater degree by the other unknown quantity making up the 2nd half of the release. Well in this case I was familiar with neither band; but upon pressing play I wasn’t let down at all.
Kicking the split off is three tracks from Belgians Cult of Erinyes who fire out a marshalled, commanding black metal presence right from the very off. Similar in many ways to fellow countrymen Enthroned, dripping with speed and spite, yet brave enough to show a little character with waves of atmosphere sweeping through their music like poisonous clouds of venom seeping into your psyche. However, it is the imperious shards of riffage which bombard you through the battalion of hissed vocals and percussive insanity. Their third and final track ‘Hermitry’ has some really interesting arrangements, with basic but fast paced tremolo picked riffage overshadowed with eerie shimmering and chiming melodies – sometimes simplicity is best, closing off Cult of Erinyes side of the split triumphantly.
The second band we have here is Turkey’s Zifir, who rely more on brooding and evil atmosphere in comparison to their counterpart’s measured yet unhinged feel. These four tracks certainly summon the spirit of old black metal for me, with a more lo-fi, dissonant charge of insufferable static and uneasy horror, emitting wraithlike frightfulness around straightforward musical structures. There’s an effortlessly sparse feeling to their sound, with a reliance on repetition to promote a genuinely great vibe, without becoming ‘hypnotic’. Sometimes these guys can get away with a simple guitar line echoing out with not much else going on, and it’s still mighty effective. If a sickly early Xasthur was bought up on nothing but ‘Under a Funeral Moon’, we’d be getting into the right sort of ballpark sound wise with Zifir.
All in all, I enjoyed both sides of this split equally, and wouldn’t really favour either bands material over the other one – they both have their own unique sounds and consistently play to their strengths throughout this split. Definitely a tasty morsel for any black metal fan who likes two chunks of contrasting underground delectation served up on the same plate.
(7/10 Lars Christiansen)