Up first are the two contributions from Barshasketh, both spanning past eight minutes. “Palingensis” starts as a cold and mournful performance, tapping into the purest bouts of depression within the Black Metal fields thanks to the slow-paced guitars and resonating bass lines that offer more to the atmosphere than just being a simple supporting instrument. Two minutes in and the only thing to really changes in that department is the speed in which that emotional toll is delivered. The guitars become richer as time goes on, adding a great deal of melody to the mix that benefits the catchy and varied drum patterns. Just past seven minutes in, nothing but acoustic guitars remain, adding a hint of isolation to the mix that only burdens the listener more.
“Dominion of Ashes”, however, packs the same bite, but on a different scale. In keeping with the depressing introduction, the opening music creates more of a gothic world that is filled with greying sorrow. When the pace picks up, the hooks give way to moving pieces that reflect our own mortality. A forlorn sensation of one’s own imminent demise lingers throughout, even when the tempo slows like around the three-minute point. The harshened rasps are at the perfect level with just the right amount of echo to feel like a shadow cast over you, much like on the previous entry. This closing, however, continues to build on the already established mood-creating leads, only making the outcome far more bleak, as if finally accepting the fate that loomed over you for the past seven, seven-and-a-half minutes.
And then there’s Void Ritual‘s performances, which are the polar opposite of what Barshasketh bring to the table. Instead of the slow drowning in misery approach, we are given riff after furious riff, hostile shouting, and intense drumming that often dives into blast beat territory. “Heaven’s Gate” does have its share of hooks, though the environment they set up is a little more unsettling than anything, complimenting the antagonizing bouts of rage and the breakdown about two-and-a-half minutes in that ends up a nice addition to naturally give the listener a breather. “Temple of the Sun”, however, manages to take this presence and elevate it to new heights. The loud bass chords create a booming, larger-than-life sound that the rest of the musicians and distant mixture of raspy and shouting vocals run with to bring the environment to a nightmarish and grand level that moves as if the music were literally hunting you down.
But then you have “Benevolent Mother”, which is just an incredibly dark performance all together. Forged from influence from acts like Emperor and Dissection, galloping bass kicks with plenty of cymbal crashes strike like lightning in the gloomy, miserable night the deep tuning and robust bass chords only make far more oppressive. However, by the time you hit three minutes, it all becomes far more maniacal. Abrasive guitar work meant to slice your face cut away atop deeper, primal growls that end up as blunt as the far more technical climax.
The only thing hindering this Split release between Barshasketh and Void Ritual is how the two environments don’t really go together. Not that this is a bad thing at all, really. Both bands do a superb job at making you depressed enough that the violence seems like the only viable option. However, both worlds are so well done, you’ll walk out wanting to hear more from both sides right away, not wanting to really leave the comfort of one for the other. If you have yet to check out either of these groups, especially the recent Void Ritual who show additional growth since their debut EP dropped, this is a split release well worth seeking out.