LISTCRUSH 2018: THE SPLITS


Lo and behold, we’re back. Before we end up past the point of no return on the treacherous roads of 2019, let’s poke the already rotting carcass of 2018 a few more times – kicking off Black Metal Daily‘s favorite releases of the year is the next segment of LISTCRUSH 2018: THE SPLITS.

Last year we had the all-too-short lists for splits and EP’s crammed into the same article, this time I’ve decided to give them a little breathing room as there were far too many excellent releases in both of those categories to not give enough of them the proper attention they deserve. Hails to all of the artists involved for bestowing such incredible music upon us once again, I listened to all of these far more than I can remember and I’ll no doubt continue to for years to come. If you missed any of these check them out; if I missed any other great splits then by all means, feel free to let me know.

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20: Precaria / Deathspiral of Inherited Suffering / Dominus IraMetamorphosphoros

(I, Voidhanger Records)

I reviewed this beast earlier in 2018 (check that out here) and it only grew on me even more whenever it found its way back into my playlist. A conceptual trident, of which every sharpened point is unique – yet equally lethal as the others.

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19: Crurifragium / Abysmal LordSplit

(Hells Headbangers)

A blasphemic pairing of unholy bestial vomit from hell. Both back with their first new material since their last great respective albums, they don’t so much fly out of the gate as smash it up and devour it. Savagery incarnate.

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18: Cénotaphe / Circle of Oroborous Split LP

(Final Agony)

Perhaps surprisingly if you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing them yet the Cenotaphé side of this split is the standout for me, but overall it’s a stirring display that’s both as mesmerising and curiously obscure as its lithographic cover art.

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17: Inferno / Devathorn Zos Vel Thagirion

(World Terror Committee)

Mystic power and rage from these two behemoths. Stunningly complementary, bewitchingly coherent and of the utmost quality from beginning to end.

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16: Ancient Moon / Prosternatur Secretum Secretorum

(Iron Bonehead Productions)

Almost an album’s worth of ritualistic occult mania. Ancient Moon open with an immersive 18 minute piece of diabolical hypnosis while Prosternatur continue the incantation with a tryptich of resonant revelations. Fantastic work from both sides.

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15: Lampir / Gormanudr Infection At Dusk / Apocalypse (Höllenfeuer)

(Skjold / Hatework)

The sensation of nails on a blackboard, balanced on a razor blade as it glides over your skin… and it is beautiful. Gormanudr take the more orthodox route over Lampir‘s miasma, complementing and enhancing this split’s raw power.

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14: Occelensbrigg / Spiral Staircase Occelensbrigg / Spiral Staircase

(Harvest of Death / Signal Rex)

Aldebaran Circle-ites Occelensbrigg are as undeniably great as ever, but it’s Spiral Staircase’s understated raw black emanations that demand their appearance on this list for me.

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13: Jute Gyte / Spectral Lore Helian

(I, Voidhanger Records)

Two stunning compositions inspired by a 1913 poem by the great Austrian expressionist poet Georg Trakl. Mind-bending microtonal madness from the master Jute Gyte… and I think I even enjoy Spectral Lore’s side more, which is saying something.

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12: Unholy Vampyric Slaughter Sect / Black Aura Unholy Vampyric Slaughter Sect / Black Aura

(Infinite Darkness Productions)

Here we see the always-compelling UVSS taking things to an insanely new level of raw bleak filth, and the mysterious Bosnian wraiths in Black Aura don’t let the team down one iota either.

NO DIGITAL AVAILABLE

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11: Primitive Man / Unearthly Trance Split

(Relapse Records)

To play this split is to know obliteration. Blackened doom noise of the most crushing order, from two of the heaviest bands in existence. I saw some people ambivalent towards this split… I loved it. Absolutely apocalyptic.

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10: Kaffaljidhma / Gethsemane Split

(Zeitgeists Publishing)

Priceless Dutch raw black. An immaculate journey of transcendence through the heavens from T, as you would expect – then Gethsemane get more raucous, but no less astonishing. These recordings apparently took two years to see the light of day. It was worth the wait.

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9: Horna / Pure Split Album

(World Terror Committee / Blut & Eisen Prod.)

New Horna is very, very good Horna. LRH brings something special to the table (or drum stool) on his first recordings with the band and they sound all the better for it; Pure bring the grim fury like nobody’s business. Released on Jan 4th and still held its spot on the list.

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8: Pa Vesh En / Temple MoonPa Vesh En / Temple Moon

(Iron Bonehead Productions)

I’ve liked everything I’ve heard thus far from Belarusian enigma Pa Vesh En, and this murky, stifled offering is no different. Temple Moon also nail it, especially on the fantastic ‘Maze of Decrepit Trees’.

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7: Paysage d’Hiver / Nordlicht Schnee (III) / Füür Rouch Ruäss

(Kunsthall Productions)

Yeah, yeah, Schnee (III) did admittedly first surface on Myspace back in the day… but in 2018 it finally copped a long-awaited proper release, plus the first new Nordlicht music in 15 years is equally as stunning. Ice cold.

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6: Vilkacis / Turia Split

(Haeresis Noviomagi / Psychic Violence Records)

There’s something incredibly gripping about Vilkacis’ approach to USBM, I couldn’t get enough of it last year. And Turia… well, they’re Turia and are seemingly incapable of putting a foot wrong.

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5: Turia / Fluisteraars De Oord

(Haeresis Noviomagi / Eisenwald)

…case in point, another unbelievably great track from Turia. I also played the absolute hell out of this tape, a conceptual split based on rivers that flow through each of their respective hometowns. Could have (and probably should have, along with the aforementioned Vilkacis split) finished much higher up the list on a different day. Both sides are superb.

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4: Akasha / UnrestVibrations of Blood and Hate

(Grey Matter Productions)

“…Akasha brings an incredibly physical, riff-driven and abrasive chaos that crackles with power as it sounds like it could fly off the rails at any second; whilst Unrest conjures an unspeakable evil and dark magic through noise-oriented rituals, savage voodoo that will terrify and mesmerise in equal measure, and a primitive black assault straight from the hate-filled primordial core of man. Oh, and to cap it off Akasha smash out a cover of Motörhead‘s ‘Ace Of Spades’.” Like raw black metal? You need to hear this split.

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3: Volahn / Xaxamatza Gods of Pandemonium

(Iron Bonehead Productions / Crepusculo Negro)

Okay, I’m cheating with this one because I heard it late and didn’t realise it dropped on 24th December 2017, but fuck you: this fucking KILLS. The kind of shit that makes you want to howl a primal scream and hurl yourself through a wall. These Black Circle members complement each other perfectly and do more with one song apiece than most bands of the like can achieve in an entire album.

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2: Forbidden Temple / Ultima Thule Massacre Winds / Untitled

(New Era Productions)

Flemish and Dutch hordes unite in an unholy raw union for the ages. The atmosphere on this is nigh on unbelievable with both sides drawing sustenance from the black blood of ages past; Ultima Thule’s side alone would make this one of my favourite things I’d heard this year so the fact that Forbidden Temple also kill it is merely the icing on the diseased, pestilent cake. Thirty minutes all up and it still isn’t long enough. True black metal.

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1: Crawl / Leviathan CRAWL / LVTHN SPLIT

(Red River Family Records)

Utter death. Exactly twelve minutes each side, twenty-four minutes of spiralling downwards into a hell more wretched than anything you could ever conjure in your most feverish nightmares. Crawl’s At The Forge Of Hate wants to slowly tear off your skin and eat you alive, while the mighty Wrest does what he does better than anyone with Igneous Ashen Tears and inflicts such immense psychological wounds that you’ll never be the same again. If you call yourself a fan of either project and this isn’t your split of the year, you probably haven’t heard it yet – in which case, fix that right fucking now. Untouchable.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Norse / Host Norse / Host Split

Obsidian Grave / Unholy Vampyric Slaughter Sect Lupine Musings of a Dying Faith

Krieg / Integrity Split

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Coming soon – LISTCRUSH 2018: THE EPS and THE ALBUMS. Hails.

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

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LISTCRUSH – Part One: Splits and EPs

It’s that wonderful time of year: The time when every man and his dog has been splattering their ‘best of’ lists all over every available surface with joyous abandon. It’s also handy to find out if you’ve missed anything outstanding, as perusing lists from like-minded souls with similar tastes often yields overlooked gems. Last year I probably listened to more music than ever before and I still definitely would have missed plenty of gold standard releases; so, far from being comprehensive ‘best of’ lists here are BMD’s humble lists of superb black/blackened splits, EPs and albums that more people should hear and you should hunt down if you slept on. Some big names, some clandestine arts; my favourite shit from one of the most stacked years in recent memory, and every single one of these artists/releases I wholeheartedly recommend for your full attention. Part one: Splits and EPs. Enjoy.

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~~ TOP 10 SPLITS ~~

10: GRAVEIR / MAR MORTUUM (Impure Sounds)

The first of three (!) all-Australian splits to make my top 10. An uneasy journey from Graveir knocks you around a bit before Mar Mortuum come through with absolute strength and astonishing quality. How neither of these bands are bigger than they are is beyond the limits of my comprehension. 

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9: PAYSAGE D’HIVER / DRUDKH (Season Of Mist)

A single lengthy piece of windswept hypnotic atmosphere from Paysage D’Hiver that’s still absolutely essential; the only thing that prevents this being higher up the list is Drudkh not meeting their usual lofty standards. Which means by average plebian standards, it’s still fucking great. Even sub-par Drudkh is excellent music.

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8: INTRINSIC LIGHT / EXPURGATORY (YNTPM)

Zen transcendence and blackened noise-rock experimentalism from the bowels of Melbourne, Australia. No other split intrigued me like this did; an almost indescribable experience. Those scared to stray far from the black metal blueprint need not apply.

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7: WHITEWURM / TRUE LOVE (Les Fleurs Du Mal Productions)

Two solo USBM artists combine for one of the most caustic double stabs of hate you’ll have heard last year. Everything starts off disgustingly well with Whiteworm (featuring guest vocals from Eric Baker, who I daresay will also pop up somewhere in part two) then descends even further into new depths of hell with True Love. This was actually how I discovered True Love, so I like this split even more for that. 

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6:  SUTEKH HEXEN / BLSPHM (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)

Yeah I’m cheating throwing a vinyl reissue in here, but the original release from years ago was ridiculously limited and barely anyone heard it, so fuck you, this counts in my book. Like listening to the destruction (Sutekh Hexen) and aftermath (BLSPHM) of the end of the world; strangely calming and terrifying all at once.

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5: SINMARA / MISÞYRMING (Terratur Posessions, Vánagandr)

The Icelandic masters knock it out of the park on both sides. Sinmara‘s track ‘Ivory Stone’ is somehow even better than anything on ‘Within the Weaves of Infinity’, which is saying something.

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4: HOWLS OF EBB / KHTHONIIK CERVIIKS (I, Voidhanger Records, Iron Bonehead Productions)

Khthoniik Cerviiks and Howls of Ebb try to outdo each other for pure black death avant-garde psychic obliteration. Utterly batshit.

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3: ABIGOR / NIGHTBRINGER / THY DARKENED SHADE / MORTUUS (Self Released)

Four great artists, four tracks that blend seamlessly into a mesmerising and magickal whole, one stunning split. Reverential. Immerse thyself.

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2: CONVULSING / SIBERIAN HELL SOUNDS (Art As Catharsis, WOOAAARGH)

Sheer masterful carnage. I still haven’t wrapped my head completely around these twin Australian black holes, and it’s been out for a month. It’s also another one that introduced me to one of the artists; I fucking love Convulsing and am forever grateful to Brendan for finally making me check out Siberian Hell Sounds through this release. Be warned: this will consume you from the inside out.

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1: BLOOD TYRANT / DEPARTURE CHANDELIER (Nuclear War Now! Productions)

Unequivocal and irrefutable split of the year. Raw vampyric elitist art from Dutch duo Blood Tyrant, and the triumphant return after six years of Canadians Departure Chandelier. It may only be a single track from each (and a short intro) but I can easily flip the 7″ over and over and listen on repeat for hours, and have done so many times. Near perfection.

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Near Misses: Sutekh Hexen / Hissing, Funeral Moon / Hordes of the Black Cross, Thy Darkened Shade / Chaos Invocation.

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~~ TOP 10 EP’S ~~

10: HEXIS – XII (Self Released)

The unstoppable Dutch blackened hardcore pulverisers somehow topped ‘Tando Ashanti’ from earlier in the year with this. I’m still mightily pissed I missed them when they came through my area last year too. Brutal.

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9: HIMELVARUWE – ‘Gewrocht’ (The Throat)

I could have easily put Dutch enigma T‘s  other raw demo for this project (‘CCIII’) up here, or his release from the also-stunning Kaffaljidhma; but this captivated me from the minute I heard it. How does he do it? Beats me, but I hope he never stops.

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8: MALEFIC LEVITATION – ‘The Ancient Plague’ (Sentient Ruin Laboratories, Dawnbreed Records)

This came in relatively late but I’ve been playing the shit out of it. In a great year for war metal, these US berzerkers blew me away. Ultimate destruction; more please, stat.

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7: AVERSIO HUMANITATIS – ‘Longing For The Untold’ (Sentient Ruin Laboratories, BlackSeed Productions)

“This is an EP that will pull your skin off slowly to force you to see what’s underneath, directing your gaze both inwards and outwards.” 

I said that in the intro piece for when I interviewed them earlier in the year and it’s still a perfect description of their nihilistic, transcendent black/death assault to me. Need a new full-length from these demons. 

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6: LORN – ‘Arrayed Claws’ (I, Voidhanger Records)

I’ve been communicating sporadically with Radok of Italians Lorn for almost a year now in regards to an interview; he’s a fascinating person. Perhaps one day it will eventuate, but in the meantime let the intricate, silvery ‘Arrayed Claws’ sink needle-like into your brain. Unique and unsettling; this project just gets better and better with each release.

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5: SINMARA – ‘Within the Weaves of Infinity’ (Oration, Terratur Possessions)

Intricate, deeply melodic in its bleakness and utterly captivating in the tale it tells, this wrapped its rich tapestries around me and didn’t let go for some time. Bodes extremely well for the upcoming full-length.

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4: GNIPAHÅLAN – ‘I Blodets Kamp…’ (Ancient Records, Mysticism Productions)

I would have put the Swedes excellent self-titled full length in the top albums list but that originally came out in 2016 despite the ’17 vinyl release, so luckily this EP more than makes up for that omission. Raw black with perfect atmospheric clarity; listen deeply.

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3: VOIDSPHERE – ‘To Call | To Speak’ (Fallen Empire Records, Amor Fati Productions)

I said in the last Bandcamp Misanthropy this was one of the greatest EPs to drop last year and it easily would have been the greatest if the next two on the list hadn’t been released. The production gets me every time. Pure void worship. I need to pick this up on vinyl.

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2: THANTIFAXATH – ‘Void Masquerading As Matter’ (Dark Descent Records)

The first time I heard ‘Cursed Numbers’, my reaction was simply: Wow. The Canadian trio could have released that track as a single and I still would have put it somewhere on this list; add the rest of the EP and you’ve almost taken top spot. Follows up ‘Sacred White Noise’ in the best way possible. Stunning. 

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1: SKÁPHE – ‘Untitled’ (Mystískaos) 

I feel like many have forgotten about this outstanding single track EP, the third release from the duo of Alex Poole (another name that may pop up in part two) and D.G of Martröð, Misþyrming and Naðra. Black metal to me is all about feeling; this makes me feel like I’m trapped in a nightmare hell trip through the worst kind of hallucinatory psychosis. Easily the best of the year. Yeah DMT and LSD are cool, but have you tried Skáphe?

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Near Misses: Serpent Column – ‘Ornuthi Thalassa’, SVRM – anything he released last year, Kaffaljidhma – ‘IV’, Rür – ‘Rür’, Somnium Nox – ‘Terra Inanis’, Abkehr – ‘In Asche’, Thy Sepulchral Moon – ‘Contemptuous Retaliation Storm’, Nordjevel – ‘Krigsmakt’, Endalok – ‘Úr Draumheimi Viðurstyggðar’, Svartidauði – ‘Untitled’.

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And that’s Part One wrapped up, hope you found at least one new blackened delight to pleasure/annihilate your ears with. Let me know anything I’ve missed, should have heard, or just how terribly shit you think my listening tastes are in general and stay tuned for Part Two: Albums, coming soon. 

Hails to 2017.

– A.

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Get in early for 2018. Submissions welcomed.

Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com