I guess this is what you’d call a sandwich split, with Minsk’s two contributions finding themselves either side of the two tracks from Zatokrev. By their names, you’d imagine these bands were from Eastern Europe. In fact Minsk and Zatokrev are from USA and Switzerland respectively. What they do have in common is post metal and dark atmospheric sludge.

The first thing to sort out was the order of tracks. Perhaps it doesn’t matter but the actual copy I received reflected a different order from that shown on the sleeve notes. First up then was Minsk’s “Invoke Revive”, a dark, violent and apocalyptic sounding piece. Thunderously extreme, it has a crashing beat of foreboding. The vocalist reciprocates the violent delivery. Then mid way through, it slows down and we are treated to a sombre cosmic passage. The guitar rings out in post metal style while the wavy vocal sweeps plaintively through the scene. It’s gentle but dark and menacing in tone. Inevitably it cranks up and spreads out psychedelically into a scene of chaos and harshness. In spite of this deliberate confusion, it has emotive appeal in amongst the impressive turbulence.

By contrast, the start of Zatokrev’s “Silent Gods” is like the dawn of a new day. The vocals are vulnerable. The sound is gently symphonic, and develops in a patiently expansive way. This is epicness of a different kind. Gradually the scene builds up and becomes one of powerful post metal desperation. There is no vulnerability any more. The drums thunder on. The vocalist roars and as the music gets heavier, the more echoing and expansive it becomes. Then as if playing with our senses, the reflection and constant guitar strain of the initial section returns, accompanied by spoken words, and guitar work, which in site of its colour captures a melancholic mood. A bit like “Invoke Revive” before it, there is a Pink Floyd like chorus but this time all is cut away and “Silent Gods” ends as a hymn-like chant.

“Salvatore” starts similar to the first offering from Zatokrev – symphonic and deeply atmospheric, sounding as if we’re floating through space. The guitar strolls evocatively through this distorted extra-terrestrial universe. The vocals are obscure and distant. This is hypnotising and disturbing. Unlike what has gone before, this atmospheric piece does not develop into anything. That was slightly disappointing. There is however continuity as we enter Minsk’s “The Chalice and the Dagger”. Different in tone, it nevertheless has a dreamy quality with that post rock ring running through it. But unlike “Salvatore”, we’re back on earth “frozen in time”. Once again hypnotising, “The Chalice and the Dagger” has warmth, depth and sensitivity. The chorus is strong and electrifying. Spoken word is used periodically throughout this work, and to the background of shimmering sounds, this interesting split album ends with powerful and impactful words.

Of the contributions on this album, I felt more strongly connected to Minsk and resolved to follow this experience up by listening to more of their work. But “BIGOD” is not about one band. Somewhat wordily, this joint work is described as “a deliberative and collaborative intention to reflect their innermost expressions, another search for deeper meaning in the here and now through beautiful psychedelic melancholy paired with the heaviest walls of sound and creative destructiveness”. Without doubt, this is an effective collaboration, and is testament to two bands of broadly similar inclination and their impressive levels of creativity.

(Minsk 8.5 – Zatokrev 7.5 Andrew Doherty)