By: Owen Coggins
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Released on December 1, 2014 via Hypertension Records
Alkerdeel’s track on this new split begins with a brief iron file screech before plunging into a groaning semitone-clambering riff, coated in thick soot. It churns along mindlessly, but also somehow unsteadily, transposing between slightly different registers, like the preprogrammed, but still unpredictable perambulations of a lonely surface probe vehicle crawling through bleak and lonely lunar rock. Some kind of life is detected eventually, with a steady rhythm picking up the pace enough to rouse a hostile presence not best pleased at being disturbed. Staccato, high-contrast-corpse-paint vocals break into the occasional windblasted howl, while the riff is still endlessly regurgitated. Even after sporadic drops into a staticky void of rusted metal sheet clanging, the guitar lines reconstitute, always able to reconfigure, to continue tracking across new and unknown ground.
Nihill’s track starts similarly, with a short, rising whirr of heavy factory air filled with mechanised movement. But then we’re immediately hurled into a frenetic atmosphere of stabbing drums and guttural growls, and then triplets of guitar smashes. This becomes a more complex track, a twisted and raging 23 minutes of harsh sounds, lurching from machinic black metal thrashing to broken chaos. I love the ferocity and timbre of Nihill’s vocals, threatening at any point to devolve into incoherent cackling or gurgled screams, but with discernible phrases (“…will expire… liberating…separate man from god…”) emerging frequently enough to give vague direction to the dark buzzing clouds of malevolence.
A heavy break at 7.30 feels like the pressure has destroyed some necessary structural support for the universe, and wild shrieking fronds of noise erupt while the drummer spirals off into the abyss. The best thing about this track is the assurance with which the experimental black metallers explore this new environment: this isn’t a 30-second freakout before normal service resumes, there is no repair, and Nihill are adept at turning the oppressive, damaged surroundings toward their obscure ritual will.
Alkerdeel let loose a reanimating wanderer in industrial grit and slime, while Nihill go from strength to strength in their uncompromising vein of sinister experimentation: two richly dark and intriguing forays into black metal’s wild border country.