Both of Abstracter’s full length albums, (Tomb of Feathers and Wound Empire), feature regularly in my listening. And with good reason; their brand of heavy, blackened Sludge/Doom is expertly done. On this release they contribute 2 tracks, lasting almost 20 minutes in total.
Barathrum starts off showcasing the band’s blackened aspect, with dark, murky blast beats charging through a sea of tar. This rather quickly spends itself, leading into a slow, sludgy crawl through murkiest waters as Abstracter embrace their dirty Doom side. Occasional forays into speed and groovier territories comprise the remaining running time, with the singer’s thick growl accompanying you the entire way.
If you haven’t encountered Abstracter before then this song is as good an introduction as any into their harsh, underground Sludge Metal.
But we’re not done yet, as there’s a second track; Where All Pain Converges. This is a little longer than the first and generally a bit slower and more considered. If Barathrum showcased the band’s harsher side then this one showcases their more atmospheric. That’s not to say this isn’t harsh and heavy, (it is), but that it also has more of a blatant emotive quality to the guitars than the soul-crushing nihilism of the first. Mixing slower sections with some more upbeat parts, the overall mood is maintained throughout and Abstracter once again show why they’re so very good at what they do.
After this onslaught of despair and misery, we leave Abstracter to wallow in their pit of pain, and approach, timidly, Dark Circles. This band offer up a different form of gloom with their characterful brand of dark Hardcore. Being familiar with their previous work on MMXIV, it’s good to catch up with them again and here they give us 4 songs, lasting just under 13 minutes.
Ashen starts us off with a squeal of feedback before violently picking up the pace with the band’s dark blend of abrasive Hardcore. One of the things I like about Dark Circles is their ability to inject an emotive bleakness into their raging chaos, engaging the listener and prompting them to move closer, despite the inherent danger. The second track Void follows on in a similar theme, (but with added atmosphere), and both initial tracks blur by in a haze of anger and distorted malice.
After these typically short and nasty affairs both of the next tracks are much longer by comparison, relative to this split and to their work on MMXIV. Isolate starts immediately, all blackened teeth and bile. The longer playing time allows the band the opportunity to flesh out the more atmospheric side of their sound that briefly reared its head during Void. This shows itself to be an apocalyptic Sludge/Doom influence, heavy and foreboding, before the Hardcore energy picks up once more.
The final track is called Epilogue (Quietus) OP. 28 No. 4 and is a little different, as the name suggests; here the band give vent to a dark ambient side and swamp the listener with a slow-building tense piece of drone that creates a nicely unsettling and worrying atmosphere.
Both bands have contributed some very nice work to this split release, and although they do play different styles they also have more than enough overlap and similar themes to complement each other perfectly. As splits go, this works a treat and is definitely one you should check out.