The release starts with The Temple of Cruel Empathy by The Negative Bias. This is a 12-minute foray into the atmospheric black metal cosmos.
The music has a symphonic quality to it that’s a bit different from that of most symphonic black metal bands; rather than leaning back towards the past, it strives for the future. Making good use of atmosphere and ambience, as well as melody, this song is expansive and expressive in form and structure, while also being compositionally complex and demanding.
The song contains multiple parts and ideas, shifting from one to the next with the ease of something comfortable in its own contorting skin. Here’s a band that know exactly what they want to achieve, and have their own modern vision for how black metal should be shaped to portray this.
The vocal performance is very charismatic and emphatically delivered. Working well with the music, the singer has a commanding presence amidst the complex structuring of the song. I particularly like the sections with clean vocals too.
The Negative Bias’ modern approach to black metal has paid dividends, as The Temple of Cruel Empathy is a very satisfying and rewarding listen.
Golden Dawn is a one man project brought to us by a member of The Negative Bias and Rauhnåcht. Lunar Serpent is also a 12-minute atmospheric black metal song, but whereas The Negative Bias is more of a modern, astral proposition, Golden Dawn’s music is more traditional, with more Gothic and second wave influences in its symphonic delivery.
I really like the singer’s voice. His high-pitched classic scream seems to crown the music with a focal point of pure blackened venom.
The music effortlessly flows out of the speakers like malevolent lava; it’s not in any hurry, but absolutely won’t be stopped, diverted, or tampered with in any way. There’s an uncompromising streak to the kind of music that Golden Dawn unleash, and this is no bad thing. The song is very evocative and affecting.
This track reminds me strongly of the 90s black metal scene, and is quite nostalgic in this sense. It absolutely has its place in 2018, however, and Lunar Serpent is, ultimately, an extremely enjoyable 12 minutes of well-written and performed black metal.
Overall this is a very strong split release, very strong indeed. The two bands are, in some ways, two sides of the same coin, showcasing preferences for either the future or the past, while actually being informed by both.