A lovely slab of carefully curated vinyl here from the ever-reliable Aesthetic Death. Housed in a gatefold sleeve with striking artwork from Pierre Perichaud this split features two artists from the black metal underworld both differing in some ways but joined congruently in others.

Moloch (8) from Ukraine should really need no introduction for those who dwell in this sort of darkness. To say Sergiy Fjordsson along with drummer Gionata Potenti are a prolific entity would be no understatement. Since inception in 2002 Moloch have over 100 releases to their name which should be some sort of record (a bit like this). Demos, splits, EP’s, studio albums, compilations, boxed sets, there’s simply no stopping them and chances are very high you have encountered them at some point in the past. Moloch have two distinct sides and both are explored over their two tracks here. Firstly ‘The Seven Seals’ is classic sounding black metal with rampaging pace, thumping drums and caustic shrieking vocals. Sounding like it has escaped from vast barren forests the inhuman side of it comes across along with a sense of feudalism and even a touch of medieval darkness. This is a hymn to the old gods of the 2nd wave of black metal, sharp, savage and without mercy. Not a hint of modern trimmings, avant-gardism or experimentation here just a rabid screaming mass of fury handled with poise and precision. After having torn heads off for 6 minutes the second number ‘The Seven Trumpets’ calms things down over double the length of time. This is the dark ambient side of Moloch and strikes as reminiscent of early Cold Meat Industry artists as well as having a slight vibe of dungeon synth about it. Working as a complete contrast this is calming and eerie with subtle tones simmering and melody gentle. There’s what sounds like static (I have blown the dust off the needle so it’s not that) and a futuristic vibe that has me floating towards an alien world in deep space rather than anything more earthbound. Incredibly cinematic and soundtrack orientated this is a particularly rich and exploratory piece of work.

We are off to the cold and dark of Anchorage Alaska for Arria Paetus (7) and their two offerings. Apparently, this shadowy entity has ties to They Leapt from Burning Windows (a great band name if ever I heard one) and unlike Moloch has just one studio album to their name prior to this. The two tracks from them illustrate the raw and primitive side of blackness with Instruments Of Torture being slowly gathered out the bag, put on the table and left to disable with cold bone breaking thwacks and sharp flesh piercing jabs. Mid-paced and overseen by craggy and rough sounding vocals it’s obvious the inflictor of pain takes care with the methods at his disposal and with some wild yells and shrieks enjoys the suffering of his victim, drawing the process out with zeal rather than going for the quick kill. There’s definitely a feel of the wild and unhinged here as the shrieks build up and this is not a band one would particularly like finding themselves locked up in a room with. ‘(E)met’ has some slapdash drumming and the speed and velocity is somewhat faster making it feel all the nastier as famine and extermination are lyrically handled. The tempo is slowed but tone is no less vicious and one gets a real feeling of hate and misanthropy oozing from the pores of its creators. Leaving you with a particularly nasty taste in your mouth.I guess that is easily avoided as you can always play the disc the other way round and chill out with Moloch at the end.

(7.5/10 Pete Woods)