KrawwlSplitIs that what the human brain looks like on the cover, well it might be after putting it through the paces of listening to the first band on this split release Krawwl [7] from Ireland. Luckily I have had an insight into the project formed from the settling dust of Altar Of Plagues, along with current Abaddon Incarnate, Malthusian and Dominus members from catching them live supporting Lantlos recently. Not sure if it helps their two sprawling tracks make any more sense but it certainly didn’t hurt. As a recorded project work seems credited to just the two people Johnny King on drums and Jeremiah Spillane everything else according to metal archives but I am sure there are more involved due to the two vocals stances witnessed live. Harsh electronic sound starts things off as they take us into the labyrinthine ‘And Oceans’ before it loosens up into waves of guitar and thudding drums. It’s quite hypnotic from the off, drawing you in on what is an involving journey of textured post blackness. Loud screams shatter the firmament, high slung and echoing slightly back but very penetrating in the mix. However it’s the much more harmonic clean vocals which strike as much more palatable as the band go into a melody shimmer harking back to the likes of Lush and My Bloody Valentine as much as anything else and I kind of wish the piercing shrieks would drop out the picture and allow the more moribund feel of the music to envelope. Not that they do as they continue giving this a beauty and beast sort of feel despite both styles being of the male persuasion. It’s left for a long numbing instrumental passage to meander through as both give way and it’s a sound that blankets and wraps you up in its heady grasp constrictive and especially powerful live as I have witnessed. Rather than move onto the other band as this does on disc Krawwl’s second number ‘Rhizome’ is less suffocating as guitar and drums get on down limbering up and flowing around things with the shrieking vocals a lot further back in the mix. Some shimmery parts of the melody and an air of depressiveness perpetuate things and the harmonic clear vocals add a maudlin pallor to it all. Still it’s too thick and obtuse with bass heavy definition to dream and gaze to really until the more sublime mid-section which again insists on adding those disruptive shrieks which although would be completely welcome in an album by the likes of Germ are beginning to unsettle and be off putting now. As Krawwl have proved they are definitely an interesting proposition and it will be interesting to see where they take us next.

On to the oddly named Barshasketh [7.5] and their two tracks next. I have heard their last full length Sitra Achra via Todestreib and caught them live supporting Hordes and Caina and been most impressed. There is nothing ‘post’ about their approach to blackness indeed from what I have witnessed before has been of the utmost savagery from this New Zealand originated but now based in Edinburgh outfit. ‘Pneuma Akatharton’  springs out on a bed of thick jangling guitar with raw as sandpaper vocals gurgling away with them. As the track bounces and broods away the repetition of the melody entrenches itself in as I wait for the inevitable where everything else drops into the mix and grates in with the drumming powering away and the pace building up to a rampant feral surge. It’s certainly not a sound that’s one dimensional but has plenty of depth about it as well as a suitable amount of bristling barbarity, which at full strength hits like a mini tornado tearing up everything in its path. Slowing down it allows the guitars to spiral away and boost the rhythmic foundations of the number onward to a hefty concluding crunch. ‘As Flesh Becomes Earth’ builds up from a pagan sort of clamour before biting and screaming with claws fully engaged. It’s got a feel that reminds of some of the ancient forested hordes about it musically and the vocal display really is venomous and particularly thick and impressive making this my favourite track here. All in all a good introduction to two bands here that you may not have encountered and both should leave you hungering for more.

(Pete Woods)