Old Castles and Winterstorm are both black metal bands. The former from Chile, the latter from Chile/Ecuador.
Old Castles open the split with 20 minutes of material. The band play raw black metal and one of the members is also in Winterstorm.
A sinister intro track sets the scene before the raw underground darkness of Predatory Lament in the Winternight. It sounds like a live recording of sorts, yet the primitive nature of the production can’t disguise the undeniably quality music. Fast and aggressive, with an atmospheric edge that really hits the spot, this song is really good. I also like the fact that you an hear the bass rumbling away, adding to the music’s effectiveness.
Next up is the 10-minute Forbidden Arts of Misanthropic Mysticism, which showcases the atmospheric proclivities of the music once more, while not stinting on the aggression. The band’s use of dark melodies is affecting, and I’m pleased to say that the bass once more is used well. Around about the middle of the song is a particularly creepy section of ambient guitar that persists right until the last couple of minutes, when it dies and is then resurrected in full blackened splendour. Closing the Old Castles side of the split is then a short outro, which picks up the sinister themes from the intro, bookending the two actual songs nicely.
Winterstorm deliver 18 minutes of music. They play raw black metal, and feature the singer of Wampyric Rites, who impressed me last year.
This side of the split also starts with an intro, but this time it’s a blackened instrumental piece, the first part of a three-part work. The second part is the actual song, which is a distortion-heavy work of old-school murky black metal. It initially reminds me of Darkthrone, only with a howling daemon on vocals. But then, after four minutes, everything drops away and we’re left with the sort of keyboards that immediately take me away from the real world into the vast soundscapes of faraway lands, before a massive riff comes back in and the music erupts into violence until the song’s conclusion. Nice. The final part of the trilogy is another short instrumental piece that has a hard rock feel to it.
Ending the release is Veil of the Abyss. This track is my favourite from Winterstorm. It’s malevolent and harsh, and drips with the sort of macabre venom that only the black metal underground can truly supply. The song unfolds with furious abandon, drowning the light in a whirlwind of abrasive ice. The singer’s fierce screams are augmented in places by a series of doomed clean chants, which further add to the music’s mysterious atmosphere.
If you have the stomach for this kind of very raw delivery, then both Old Castles and Winterstorm offer some quality, well-written underground black metal.
Highly recommended for explorers of black metal’s underbelly.