This split album comprises around hour’s material from four underground bands from Spain.
Starting proceedings and waking me violently from any slumber that I may have been in is Judaswiege. Fast hard and thrashing, this assault is unrelenting, and supported by a vocalist who seems to have been spawned from the devil. Eat your hearts out, Impaled Nazarene. Strength of character is needed to keep up with this violent attack. It helps that the sound is raw, and not produced so that it sounds like it’s something remote. This is in your face. My enquiries revealed that “The Pit and the Pendulum” was released as a single. Strange really as three and a bit isolated minutes of terror and violence somehow would seem unsatisfying. Anyway, there are four murderous odes here lasting about 15 minutes, and impressively intense and technically sharp as it all is, it’s all the same in essence and crude. (7/10)
Moribundo is Spanish for dying. Appropriately spooky gothic atmospherics abound in a framework of heavy doom. The elevated tones of a choir and symphonic sounds creep through the veins of the majestic “Virgen”. This is powerful and dramatic. This chunky piece has the feel of a very disturbing horror story. The death process is captured in a vivid way. “Amor / Entierro” pumps out darkly, smelling of death and fusty rooms. The heaviness signals punishment, but whilst no hope radiates from any of this, there are subtle moments of instrumental and symphonic melancholic reflection. (7.5/10)
Sönambula start their mini set with the tones of a horror movie, before raising the bar and engaging in a crusty kind of hardcore death doom. Sparks fly. It’s more about atmospherics than melody. And about death of course. I wasn’t sure about this at first and still aren’t. Whilst these rancid dosages of heaviness convey their contemptuous and deathly tableaux, and are undoubtedly crushing, the seismic shifts make it all hard to digest. But then this is not supposed to be nice. I just found the three pieces disjointed and to a point unfathomable. (6.5/10)
Barbarian Swords take the subject on from on a sonically different angle. Heavy doom pounds out with random and sinister noises to make “Goddess of War and Annihilation” more terrifying. The vocalist hisses out venom. This band uses production effects to expand its range. The vocals linger. The mixture of sounds creates the effect of noise and blackness. “The Eternal Axe of the Goddess” is just as punishing as it crawls doomily through tunnels of darkness. The doomy expanse creates an aura of majesty. The vocals creep in to make this slithering more snake yet more terrifying and impressive, before even darker clouds descend and the intensity increases. Of the four bands here, Barbarian Swords are the most experienced and this shows in the maturity of the structures of these two pieces. (8.5/10)
It’s certainly great that these bands have exposure through this split album. “Tetrarchia ex Bestia” is more like a live set as these four bands present their separate approaches over their 15 minute slots. This made it hard to get into, quite apart from the deliberately discomforting styles. But this work can be seen as a whole. It is one where the musical origins lie in the darkest of recesses, and deathly extremity is the norm.
(7.5/10 Andrew Doherty)