Trist/Lonesummer: Split

The curse…of the split.  Splits can have this problem, if one band does reasonably well but the other is less so it can be a disaster.  And no one wants to be that band, the placeholder, there primarily so the definition of ‘split’ isn’t violated.  Is this opener obvious enough?  Do you get it?  Not yet, friends, not yet, because you still don’t know which of these two bands has taken the trophy for placeholder this time around.  Black metal splits, well, like anything else they can be hit or miss.  Occasionally in the middle, like the Crebain/Leviathan release of some years prior, but rarely so.  And it has nothing to do with black metal, it’s just the general essence of ‘the split’.  It’s split in two, there are two bands usually, and one of them is always going to be better than the other, it’s just how it is.  The question is how much is the other going to be better in the presence of the placeholder, and is it enough to hold the totality together for the listener?  Trist and Lonesummer came together for this one a few years ago, but again we need to state we like to make sure we review whatever we get so good promo money isn’t wasted.  The cover, kind of awesome, it’s a gloomy, simple black/white image to suggest the loathing of the best of underground black metal, almost like a Victorian ghost if you will, but after listening to it all it’s just kind of a dude standing in front of a window stretching after a nap.

For a split it also has an odd presentation.  Trist is the first to go, and they provide a single track, it just goes the distance Burzum style for over twenty minutes.  Coming from the Czech Republic, Trist easily shows how the Slavs have a good grasp of atmosphere, it’s probably why the majority of pagan metal coming out of Eastern Europe is of the high-quality variety.  Frostbitten guitars with that typical black metal frailty are present, with a repetitive, dreary chord progression building the bulk of the track.  The beat’s slow, it drags, but it’s a ruminating kind of drag, it slumps you into your armchair and you slowly sink into its bulk and inward into depression.  Awesome, though perhaps a good shriek here and there would have been welcome because the vocals are difficult to discern in all the frost.  The only real complaint is that it’s perhaps a bit too extended, with very little variety.  This is good to a limit, but Trist kind of pushes that limit and doesn’t stop, so you’ll either enter meditative angst, or you’ll move forward to the next track.

But, hint, you might not want to, because now we get to the placeholder.  Lonesummer has a cool image, he really does, and he likes to do splits, which is the bulk of his output.  For this split, he creates an imbalance, because you go immediately from dreamy length suffering to indie rock two-minute noise romps that taste like a mouth of piss after you’ve eaten Reece’s Pieces.  Post-black metal, fine, we dig it, some shoegaze, always good, but here this is a general mar over it all, a black, sticky tar clinging to everything.  The fuzz, the chord work, the off-kilter drumming, it just doesn’t really fit the theme you’re getting from the cover and Trist.  Further, the vocals walk a very, very fine line, one rarely walked with success.  The only example we can recall at the moment is Germ.  Think raven calls, and it’s easy to envision what would make them so difficult.  If not delivered properly, it goes from sounding like agonizing wails at a wake to a seagull picking at your hotdog.  This would be the latter.  Perhaps it’s the recording quality of the vocals, perhaps the delivery, perhaps both, but whatever it is, it sounds awful and this one aspect is enough to kill most of the release.  It largely sounds like the same, annoying bird call for every syllable, with no variety.  It just keeps cawing, picking at your food like the sea rat it is.  However, the sad thing is it could have worked if it was split with another band that was more of a match.  But not here.  Trist dominates the first half of the album and more, and by the time you get to Lonesummer what you get is not what you’d expect.  Perfect example, right here, of why more thought needs to go into splits.  It’s not simply about getting it done, it’s about getting it done with meaning.

Trist Official Facebook

Lonesummer Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Trist/Lonesummer: Split
Ars Magna Recordings
3 / 5