Bâ’a / Verfallen / Hyrgal – Split (2018) REVIEW

This three way split full-length between up-and-coming French atmospheric black metal projects appears as a collective vision from musicians with visions that fit snugly together but are nonetheless quite different. All three performances are roughly twenty minutes in length with two songs per artist and they appear in order starting from least familiar name to and already impressive yet newly established artist. While I would personally guess that Bâ’a is perhaps a related work of musician Déhà (Slow, Yhdarl) who provides session bass and the mix/mastering of this split, there is no current information about the project beyond these two songs. Bâ’a play a very slick, fluid style of black metal that is brisk and plodding; It is the sort of music that creates a black cloud of movement rather than digs too deeply into the underworld. For a debut release they make a good first impression though only the confidence of movement implants itself in my mind.

From Bâ’a‘s chiming atmospheric black metal we shift gears towards the moving melodic avarice of Verfallen, a solo project from Emmanuel Zuccaro (Hyrgal, ex-Sulphureign). In writing two ten minute tracks Verfallen is certainly the most demanding portion of the full listen but each track smartly takes its time developing slow and smooth transitions between epic and aggressive moments. “Derelictus” really stands out both for the melodic black metal riffs that serve as an anchor for the song’s interest but also the dramatic build-and-burst of the last half of the arrangement. I wanted to be equally impressed by the second Verfallen track but the arrangement made less dynamic sense and at ten minutes it began to feel like two songs stitched together without a focal point in mind. This didn’t matter during ‘exploratory’ listens but as I returned to the full listen it became a less compelling part of the whole.

Lastly we have Hyrgal a newly resurrected decade old black metal project from former Svart Crown guitarist Clément Flandrois (Pillars), whom released their impressive debut album ‘Serpentine’ last year. I liked Hyrgal‘s debut quite a bit because it seemed to be touching upon ‘Cascadian’ black metal much like bands groups like Forteresse have; That blend of atmospheric and melodic black metal influences along with a 90’s cognizant approach to rhythm continues with the two tracks on this split. “Sicaire” is perhaps the best song on the split by virtue of its engrossing arc and nearly thirteen minute length. I don’t think any one point of the three band’s performances creates a ‘hook’ of listening that draws me back in for repeated listens but the experience in the moment is largely successful in terms of modern atmospheric black metal.

Each project ventures off the beaten path just enough to not sound rote but none of them think so far outside of the box that they appear avant-garde. The success of their grouping is perhaps the related tonality and ‘feeling’ that they share with Verfallen perhaps stretching their wings into slightly more aggression. Though I do not often recommend split releases due to their typical service as a funnel for castaway songs or outtakes I believe this one collects three related bands from France’s black metal underground and gives them twenty minutes to give us a strong and representative sample. While I won’t recommend songs for preview the two sure peaks of the split come from Hyrgal‘s “Sicaire” and Verfallen‘s incredible “Derelictus”.

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Artist Bâ’a / Verfallen / Hyrgal
Type Split Album
Released October 12, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Les Acteurs de L’Ombre Productions’ Bandcamp! More Info on Metal-Archives
Genre Black Metal,
Atmospheric Black Metal,
Melodic Black Metal

Rise of the triad. 3.75/5.0

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