Split releases are a common theme in today’s metal underground. It’s a great way for relatively unknown bands with similar sounds to get noticed by putting out splits with friends, and they generally go one of two ways: both parts of the split are great, or one band has a much stronger side than the other. Splits are generally good, because chances are if you pick one up, you like at least one of the bands on it. This review is about a solid sludge / doom / black metal release by Nachterror and Altars Of Grief, and we’re going to split both sides into two small reviews, so let’s get crackin’ with the first half!
Nachterror: Side A
Being relatively unfamiliar with this band, it could have been easy to shrug them off as a typical doom band with black metal style vocals, but as their songs progress, that is far from the case. The songs, bonus track included, are a very interesting blend of black metal and doom, blending Woods Of Ypres style spoken baritone vocals with black metal screams and tremolo picking. It goes from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds, and this change is what keeps the side interesting. Just when you think the band will do one thing, something you didn’t expect to hear occurs, and it’s extremely refreshing.
The songs are extremely punchy, but the best by far is the track ‘Upon Ashen Shores’, largely due to the sheer intensity of the music. Even when the pace is slowed, the energy brews silently until it all erupts with one fiery, vicious burst that sends you into the deepest depths of despair, agony, and hatred. This band took common themes from doom and black metal and blended them into one, which is a feat that was done very well and really lends itself to the overall quality of this band’s performance on their side of the record. Hopefully their next full length will continue where this monstrosity left off.
Nachterror – Side A gets…
Altars Of Grief: Side B
This side is a slightly different story, however, largely due to the common thread that is black metal. They blend it with doom as well, but their tone is far darker. It has an inherent evil within it, an anger that is only personified by their singer’s howling screams over their brooding sounds. However, this side is not as effective musically, largely due to the lack of diversity. Despite only being a split, you get the feeling that if this were to continue on for three or four more songs, you would get very exasperated and slightly agitated at the repetitiveness of it all. The pace rarely changes above the dragging, mid-tempo sludge that covers their entire side.
However, this side makes a better use of all of the synthetic orchestral sounds that the previous side. They seem much better placed than the first half of the split, and definitely fit their overall theme better. Additionally, the songs work better in just three pieces to a whole, as opposed to side A where each song is better by themselves and by themselves alone. The band have yet to find their true stride, but once they do, they will surely reach new heights as a metal act.
Altars Of Grief – Side B gets…
Overall, this split will tickle the fancy of any doom fan, any black metal fan, and even any sludge metal fan. It has a little bit for everyone to enjoy, and will go down as one of the heaviest releases of this year. These bands worked really well together on this split, and hopefully they tour together beyond their four Canadian dates, or even record another split, in the near future.