This German and Ukrainian split release should come as no surprise to fans of either band or the Ukrainian scene as Kirill (vocals, guitar) and Eugen (guitar) of Pripjat both have Ukrainian descent. If you didn’t know Pripjat is an abandoned town in Northern Ukraine created in the wake of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. Pripjat’s debut, “Sons Of Tschernobyl” was a biting 80s thrash release with slashing riffs and pumping speed whereas “Chain Reaction” saw the band slow down a fraction in 2018 wielding some progressive touches on the longer songs, which brings us to this split release. It is fair to say Pripjat are not prepared to squeeze the life out of past glories and prefer to expand their musical development as each new experience and influence takes them, resulting in these five tracks.

After the bleakness of the intro piece, “A Glimpse”, with backing wind noises and a solemn guitar melody with bass and cymbals the album launches with “Protect And Secure” which showcases the thrashing savagery the band has in their armoury but within that framework comes the facets of something more progressive even though the lead break is presented at a 1000mph. Continuing with a fine riff is “The Sprawl” where sporadic blast beats scuttle along here and there with rapidly changing tempos as the first two songs are typically Pripjat on the whole and contrast hugely with “Birth Control”, where a drum fill intro with bass comes in. The fiery riff that appears is brilliant, accompanied by the kick drum patterning where the pace is restrained but the density is increased hugely. With spoken sample vocals adding their own level of texture the song is a desolate foray into progressive power as the lead breaks lunge and burn into the mix.

The bands last song on this split “Beyond” returns to the more speedy neck snapping thrash we’re accustomed to. However the bruising but brief piercing riff break shoots the song into a heavier realm as the song is showered in riff breaks right up until the abruptly injected blast beat. The masses of changes in the song hint at their changing purpose in song writing and I am really looking forward to what this German act has coming on their next release because the songs here are incendiary to say the least.

In contrast to Pripjat I know very little and have heard very little by Ukrainian act Hell:On but on the back of the tracks here I’ll be rectifying that very soon. With four tracks on display the band has a slightly sharper approach with razor like guitar work. The opening harmony guitar piece of “Spreading Chaos” serves up a cool riff as the speed rages into a blast beat with a deeper vocal style that is closer to death metal territory. Indeed those death metal touches run through the songs due to the density and empowering speed. Changing approach is “Ashes Of The Gods” where an Egyptian tonal decoration is heard on the guitar riffing plus the addition of various effects creating a weirdly effect. As the bass is isolated a whispering vocal ensues adding atmosphere before the songs metal aspects punch in.

“B.S.B.” again has the fragments of something more progressive with what sounds like wind instrumentation or possibly it is a mouth harp with percussive elements added. Whatever it is the effect is excellent as the song escalates with double kick rhythms and beastly vocals. The drifting density works superbly as each hook and melody drifts along with it leaving “Satan” to close their set of songs. This track was originally out in 2012 but is presented here as a live version recorded in early 2017. Personally I would have preferred another new song rather than pad out their contribution with a live tune. However the tune is extremely potent with the epic strains of the songs symphonic backing accompanying the excellent guitar work that runs through it.

This is an excellent split release available as a great digipak with booklet from two exceptionally talented thrash bands.

(8/10 Martin Harris)