Two of the biggest highlights for death metal in 2018 return in unholy unison for this brilliant split LP, each band showcasing a year’s worth of impressive development. Some great potential is realized in both cases as Atavisma crafts merciless atmospheric depth through intricate tonal arrangements and Void Rot breathes a now hulking vortex of dooms curses into their already impressive sound. I’m not sure I could think up a more complimentary pairing in terms of classics-minded but ‘modern’ atmospheric death/doom metal bands kicking it up out of the dirt today. It is one for the ages and I doubt it’ll take much convincing for most folks, this split is one of the finest death metal releases in this first part of the year.
If only every young death metal band could manage a debut full-length with as much strength and personality as Parisian crypt-conjurers Atavisma‘s ‘The Chthonic Rituals‘. If ‘On the Ruins of a Fallen Empire‘ was a breakthrough, then their first LP was a dimensional shattering that’d birth a screaming portal to awaken the vengeful dead from the graveyard sinking beneath us all. That record had solidified the band as a personal favorite of the last decade and expectations were set pretty high for what they’d do next. For this split with Void Rot they’ve transformed considerably, setting aside the HM-2 distortion pedal just enough to let a brilliantly boiling set of ‘old school’ progressive death metal influence voice their way forward without losing their heady Incantation-esque side slip away.
There is more than a hint of ‘Unholy Cult’ in these three songs and you’ll most clearly hear this within Atavisma‘s second song, “Mold Upheaval”, where bassist J.B. shines incredibly bright within the mix. In fact it is worth noting that both sides of this split gel by way of mix/masters by Damian Herring who highlights the dynamic strengths of each band without muddying their key differences. If I’d never seen the title for “Dread” the song would have still communicated that intended effect as its atonal chunking gives way to grotesque strings of riffs that ooze out like pustules at the insistence of their bassist. Three stellar songs and I’m more than primed to see what Atavisma do in the future, these are masterful pieces at their highest standards yet.
The first whiff of Minneapolis, Minnesota quartet Void Rot came as a volatile fog o’er the depths of mid-to-late 2018 and no doubt I’d considered ‘Consumed by Oblivion‘ a formative work because of course they were capable of bigger, gnarlier things. It was a deeply atmospheric EP that implicated bands like Krypts and Spectral Voice and came in the midst of mastery from similarly attuned bands (Shrine of the Serpent, Convocation) that year. They’ve proven me right with their side of the split, a deeper lunge into imposing and sinister riffs extracted from the most righteous halls of death/doom and drowned in a screaming, splashing, and bloody-clawed struggle downward into the worm-filled mud of a thousand lakes. There are generations of dead Finnish death metal riffs beneath, slowly crushed into nutrient for Void Rot‘s heaving sound.
You could absolutely still compare Void Rot with Krypts on a superficial level and Hell, that is not a bad thing in my book considering that band has put out my album of the year upon each release. “Accursed Earth” is such a massive song, I rarely stop and put a death/doom track under 10 minutes on repeat but this is top tier stuff for the sub-genre with drummer Will Bell particularly killing it on the arrangement. I couldn’t be more impressed with how much work Void Rot have put in since 2018, and all the more power to any band that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Atavisma. As I’d said before, both bands are killing it to the point of drowning in blood on these new songs and I’ve not been able to stop spinning this split since early January when I’d received it. “Mold Upheaval” and “Accursed Earth” are the songs to jump into if you’re not familiar with either band. Very high recommendation.
Very high recommendation. 4.5/5.0
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