Cryptic Shift/Replicant/Inoculation/Astral Tomb – Chasm of Aeons – Split (Review)

Cryptic Shift Replicant Inoculation Astral Tomb - Chasm of AeonsA sci-fi themed 4-way death metal split release? Hell yes! Sign me up! The class artwork sealed the deal, to be honest, never mind the 19 minutes of quality cosmic metal of death on offer.

UK band Cryptic Shift are the only band here I actually know, (due to Visitations from Enceladus), so was expecting good things; I wasn’t disappointed. Cosmic Dreams is an older song, but I haven’t heard it before, so I don’t know if it has been rerecorded or not. Either way, this is an old-school technical death metal song that absolutely shreds. The band have a great way of combining technical flourishes with classic songcraft, resulting in a fearsome song. A lot of content is crammed into this track, and good riffs and ideas fly around like nobody’s business. I love the solo around the middle of the song too. What a great way to start this release off.

Up next is Unbeing by Replicant from the US. This is a far more primal and atavistic example of old-school death metal. The opening riff is nasty enough to cause damage, and really made me sit up and take notice of what was pummelling me. In fact, throughout the entire song the guitars offer strong highlights. There’s a technical edge here amidst the brutal veneer too, as well as some decent dissonant atmospheric moods. Replicant have really impressed with this song.

After that we come to Xerthaneus by Inoculation, also from the US. Here the brutal intensity is taken up a level. Inoculation offer a more modern version of the style than the previous two bands, although it’s one that’s still informed by classic, timeless principles. It’s a well-constructed track that wields its technicality like a weapon in one hand, while simultaneously throwing spiky riffs and sharp melodies with the other. Ending with a much more old-school macabre dirge, it’s another solid song from the split.

The final US band, and final band on the split, is Astral Tomb. Their track – Transcending from the Mortal Plane Guided by a Familiar Phantasm – is an extravagantly-titled journey into the crushing mid-paced underground. Rawer and nastier than any of the other bands here, this track has the feel of something ancient and malignant slithering out of the void, ready to swallow the universe. Horrifying stuff.

Chasm of Aeons is a diverse and enjoyable split release from four quite different death metal acts. It’s a recommended listen for fans of the underground, and worth the time to explore.

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