There may only be four tracks on this split release but with an average running time of 10 minutes each there is plenty to immerse yourself in and it certainly is not lacking in substance. Both bands could be considered cult entities within the black metal scene and although Almyrkvi may well be the lesser known of the two they create a great impression here even if you have not heard them before. We have, via 2017 debut album Umbra which went down very nicely indeed and this duo from the cold, hot bed that is Iceland have ties with other well-respected acts Sinmara & Slidhr among others. What was established relatively quickly on first spin here is that they are a damn good match with German troupe TROB and seemingly share space and ideologies within their music that should endear them to fans of the band.
First number ‘Asomatous Grove’ has a doomy and mesmerising start that has a bit of a psychedelic nuance, the orchestration also gives a bit of a symphonic feel via keyboards and it draws you into its depths quickly and admirably. Once the vocals growl in courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Garðar S. Jónsson, who provides everything apart from drums, they have the weathered roughness of funeral doom and the ponderous and slow approach here shows affiliation to that genre as Bjarni Einarsson slowly thuds along behind them. Lots of atmosphere and some strange and sinister sounds persist one of which sounds like a scalpel being sharpened and this has the same sort of hypnotic flow congruent withTROB. There are some cleaner backing vocals subtly in the background and some lush acoustic guitar parts giving off a vibe of ghostly expansiveness. Dark ambience also shrouds this track towards culmination with booming sounds sinisterly spreading fear of what will come next and providing a bridge between this track and second Managarmr. The moon hound of Norse mythology comes with stealth and looks over the wide cold, dark and barren expanse before it. The drumming builds, melody is fashioned, somewhat pompously and the guttural roars of the beast snarl, hungrily. You would not want to be caught in its gaze, there would be no escape from its sharp teeth tearing into your flesh. The cries of the damned wail around on this icy plateau and melody that is reminiscent of Blut Aus Nord at their calmest flow takes form and gently caresses before the ambience again takes things to conclusion.
Having been largely silent since landmark album Exuvia in 2017 it’s great to hear some new material from The Ruins Of Beverast and these two tracks work as composite sides of a coin and like Almyrkvi’s work flow into each other with a fluidity that encompasses. The Grand Nebula Pulse starts with hymnal chanting and drums slowly build rhythm taking us into what could be described as a near 13-minute work of shamanic trance as peyote as ingested and one gets into the mood for its hallucinatory qualities to take effect. Thick bass rattles at the ribcage and beastly growls rise from the ether like smoke. It all goes rather weird with almost Gothic surrealism taking hold of the senses as Alexander von Meilenwald along with I assume nameless collaborators play with the listeners psyche. With some clean chanting filling in the gaps sounding like the ghosts of our forefathers and the curious meandering bass work the ritualistic flow is both curious and gripping and gathers in elements of everything from Kraut Rock due to the drum temper and psychedelia circa Electric Tepee era Hawkwind. The flip-side here sees everything kicking in literally with ‘Hunters’ making the first piece seem like a prelude to a battle. Led by our ancestors we go spirit walking with embittered violence honing in and a blackened fervour beating a tattoo from the drums and furrowing guitar work. Vocals are feral, there’s bone cracking rolls from the drums and occasional snare crashes as it giddily twists and turns with bruising violence. A near carnivalesque yet sombre melody encroaches and voices rise to fever pitch chanting discord at the prey these Hunters are pursuing; stealth has been dealt with and this hunt is a wild one now. It’s dense with lots going on including some heady saxophone before this tribe settle down to their feast and we leave them in silence once more.
Rich and diverse, both bands seem like they have told imaginative tales with their music here and have both come up with engrossing page turners as a result. Wonderful stuff!
(8.5/10 Pete Woods)