Don’t let the Gothic-sounding band names fool you – this is a split release featuring two relatively new Black Metal bands from the US. My experiences with split releases haven’t been positive over the years as it seems that one of the bands will always bring the overall quality of the release down a notch. Unfortunately this is the case with this split CD as well.
New York’s NEPHILLIM kicks off “side A” with their noisy and utterly unmemorable brand of Black Metal. To me Black Metal is a very personal style of music and it should, ideally, leave you with an impression and something to ponder. It should move you. NEPHILLIM, however, only inspired me to hit the stop button on my player. The sound is murky and of demo quality and the drummer’s Grindcore-style drumming doesn’t fit well with the overall sound. One thing that did stand out though was the bassist, whose very Bluesy lines bring a bit of variation to the band’s sound. At times it’s is very high up in the mix and for some bizarre reason almost comes off sounding like a pan flute! Imagine a VERY sloppy and meandering GORGOROTH (“Destroyer” era) and you’ll have NEPHILLIM.
ZIRCON, on the other hand, completely owns this split release. Producing music that is more rooted in Blackened Death Metal (a la MYRKSKOG), they immediately save this release from being a complete disaster. For better or worse they hail from the current Metalcore capitol of the world, Massachusetts, and have shared stages with greats like MAYHEM and CRYPTOPSY. Their “side” of this CD actually comprises their entire “Vastlands” album, so go check that one out separately instead of having to deal with NEPHILLIM’s horrendous contribution here. Songs like “Microdeaths” (check out the great riffing at 2:00 – 2:19) and the epic title track (love the opening riffs here!) are brilliant through and through and proof enough that, given a better sound, this band will have a bright (if such a word can be applied to a Black/Death act) future ahead of them.
So this is a bit of an uneven release, in terms of quality. NEPHILLIM’s songs are disposable rubbish that left me cold. If you’re gonna seek this one out, do so only for ZIRCON’s side.
(Online March 23, 2007)