Having made a Pakt with Whoredom Rife recently now it is time for a Portent with Deathcult. The modus-operandi of this split release is the same, two tracks each including a cover song. Released on special 10-inch vinyl and I assume digital, it’s something that the Norwegians can occupy themselves with on lockdown with their gigs on hold and hopefully get a bit of money from keeping the collectors happy at the same time. Apparently and adding to the mystique it was “recorded, forged, and perfected within the darkest halls of the seven silver mountains of Bergen.”

Hoest seems to have no shortage of ideas at the moment and again Taake make everything seem natural with their side of the disc. First track Slagmark “battlefield” opens the bloody gates and flings us straight into a pitched melee of battering drum-work and fast and feral guitar riffing. The recording is a little on the scuzzy side and if you have been playing something really well produced directly before you will be turning the volume up here to get the most of the multi-instrumentalists spiralling work and feral rasps. A punkish and brackish bounce pervades and the jaunty approach suddenly gets you banging head and pogoing wishing for a gig to let your hair down at. It’s a bit of everything we have heard from Hoest in the past and you can easily compare to previous campaigns. What really lifts the song though is a section of sparkling acoustic guitar work which sounds fantastic and lifts the mood like a raven swooping over a battlefield of carcasses waiting for the coast to clear so it can ravage the bounty and feed. Last time we got an interesting Sisters Of Mercy cover, this release we get the Total Death of Darkthrone classic Ravnajuv. It sounds as old school as it did at the time of origin back in 1996, gritty and seething with a primitive and raw drive which will no doubt take many fans right back to times before the light. With riff repeated it tenaciously claws away and is full of fist pumping vitriol just like mother (well Nocturno Culto and Fenriz) conceived it. I wonder what they think of it all, fans of the original certainly wont feel short changed as arcane and strange sounding synth-work takes it to morbid conclusion.

Conceived back in 2006 Deathcult also include Hoest in their ranks along with brothers Thurzur and Skagg who have both played live in Taake as well as being involved in Gaahlskagg, Infernal Manes and Dead To This World among others. You may well have heard them through their albums Cult Of The Dragon and Cult Of The Goat. If not, we get rumbling diesel fumes and choke on them before the hellfire of Der Würger plummets in and scythes furiously over roaring rasping vocals which I guess are provided by both Skagg and Hoest. Track title translating to The Strangler it would probably be a cliché to say that it goes for the throat and garrottes the listener with little in the way of mercy, cutting off the windpipe and starving the brain of oxygen; but we have to work with what we get. It’s a wild ride of a track and the deranged vocals give it a hint of mania making one wonder just what was being imbibed during recording. Speaking of vocals, the cover song takes us well into the realm of the wolf at night under a full blood moon as allegiance is paid to Finnish cult Beherit. With no shortage of “Hexcrafting and cursing” it sounds suitably demonic and conjures up foul rites performed by wild beasts in thick secret forested enclaves. Slow and sinister, the whispered and growled vocals are sucked of humanity as though they are composed during transformation from man to wolf. It’s short but deadly and makes one have to go and immediately pick through the relics of their collection and draw down the moon themselves after it thuds to an end. What more do you really need?

(8/10 Pete Woods)