This is a fascinating work. “Toteninsel” or “Island of the Dead” is the name of a painting by the Swiss Symbolist artist Arnold Böcklin. This album is based on the imagery of that painting. Farsot, who in their time have been responsible for some thoroughly creepy black metal, have in this case collaborated with fellow Germans Coldworld. Farsot have contributed the two “Earth” (Erde) tracks on this split EP, while ColdWorld’s contribution is “Water” (Wasser).
The first representation of Erde is typically quiet but menacing. The acoustic guitar is at the centre, with deathly whisperings accompanying the atmosphere of crawling maggots. Fire is absent as the picture builds up, almost post metal style, from an acoustic base. There is surprising beauty in Erde II but underneath it is melancholy, aided by faint ethereal sound effects.
Wasser I, subtitled “Seaghouls” continues the representation of emptiness, building up towards powerful but not overpowering melancholy. The fact that it is instrumental means no distraction but at the same time it is gloom without end. The second section, subtitled “Horizon” is heavier and more ghastly. Dark clouds descend and it is evident that they are dense. There’s a nice switch three minutes in, as the cold world becomes colder and weightier. ColdWorld pile on the agony and leave us in no doubt through strong and persuasive instrumentals that they are depicting a scene of sadness and despair. The guitar style is distinctly Katatonian.
This is a fine atmospheric work to be sure. “Toteninsel” is more one-dimensional than Farsot’s “Insects” (2011) or “Fail-lure” (2017), but is effective and true to the shadowy empire, which it depicts.
(8/10 Andrew Doherty)