DEATHSTENCH/Trepaneringsritualen: Split LP

In the world of darkness, there are a few labels that reign supreme that we see around here frequently.  One of those, Malignant Records, has sent us recently several cool pieces, including our first vinyl promo for the new hardcopy address.  And here it is.  First off, nothing beats a picture disc with cool artwork, nothing.  Black vinyl is fine, we know the cost involved, but when you see occultist imagery on a record you’re spinning on your console, yeah, kind of looks cool when someone notices it, the look of “should I leave now?” in their eyes, and probably terror.  Is this some sort of forgotten recording of a sacrifice?  Probably, you answer.  But a split?  Splits are risky, because typically one band tends to outshine the other and you skip all the rest.  In the case of vinyl, one side is eventually covered in needle trenches, while the other looks fresh off the press.  That, or one band covers at least 3/4 of the album and it’s more like a fourth LP, if that even makes sense.  Thankfully, however, Malginant Records isn’t run by an idiot.  We’re here presented with two excellent acts of the death industrial variety, which we’ll now consider in separation.

DEATHSTENCH comes from LA, California, playing occult dark ambient.  Oh yes, one of our favorite kinds, seriously it is.  On this split you have essentially an extension of a release they did in 2012 entitled Massed in Black Shadow, but honestly it sounds like something entirely new.   Excellent, because often we chide releases that are simple, repackagings of earlier works, especially when they’re the same tracks, unless said tracks are so rare in 20-copy CD-R print runs in Malaysia you wouldn’t have heard them otherwise.  DEATHSTENCH have essentially built on this earlier work and revamped it for this split, but it has the same sort of flow.  The first track has more build in this incarnation instead of assaulting you immediately, and this works better for the approach.  In comparison to the other side of this release, these guys rely more on power electronics as their background beef, so you get the expected screaming combined with metallic structures.  Some bands can pull this off, others fail miserably.  Luckily DEATHSTENCH is of the former camp.  Several moments are genuinely eerie and soul-wrenching, with some grating metal bursts beautifully combined with feedback.  That’s what we say a lot around here, people, stop and think, please put passion into your noise, don’t just pound pedals or we’ll pound your release into the ground and likely urinate all over it.  So far, so good, on to the other side.

Now we get to Trepaneringsritualen, whose name we hope to never have to type again because we double-checked it a million times.  Any spell-check feature is useless before its power.  Calling themselves Geatish death industrial pretty much sums it up, and that’s coming straight from their website in the link there.  For this split, perfect fit, couldn’t have been better, and it’s a nice counterbalance that doesn’t dip too far in the opposite direction.  Both bands are dark, bleak, they induce mental illness in the sanest of us, they’re a monolith of devastation and cult.  These guys, not writing that name again, work more on the ambient end until the final minutes.  Åkallan Mímir, which is only a single track, works like a ritual, it’s a slow build to an eventual goal, in this case an envocation of Mímir, “the wise one,” whose head was carried around by Odin after it was severed, in order to glean knowledge from it.  For those of you now searching Wikipedia, it’s right on the picture disc in all of its black and white glory, which on see on the right.  Musically this piece has a very slow build, and deliberate.  Echoing percussion, ever so faintly, slowly builds, combining eventually with bleak, depressing darkness of unknown materials as it slowly leads into an industrial rhythm with acidic spoken-word under the surface.  In terms of ritualistic, this song more closely approximates that feeling.

In summation, though, great split here, and nothing beats hearing something like this coming through a console as opposed to a CD player or on a computer, there’s something more primal about it, but perhaps we’re getting too hipster with such a comment.  Let’s try to avoid that for the future, when it comes down to it its simply another format, but hey, that picture disc, love it.  This is a nice “how to” manual for what a split should be, a clear delineation between two bands, but with a unifying theme.

DEATHSTENCH Official Facebook 

Trepaneringsritualen Official Facebook 

Written by Stanley Stepanic

DEATHSTENCH/Trepaneringsritualen: Split LP
Malignant Records
4.5 / 5