Forever Plagued Records
July 14th, 2014
Release length: 26:04
Kult of Taurus:
Born of Fire, Forged by Death isn’t exactly composed of eight brand new compositions in total. While it seems this will only be available on CD, the concept is that it has two different sides to represent each band, often re-recording older material to get fans acquainted with where each act stands today. This makes up all of Kult of Taurus contributions, but considering Erevos Aenaon has never had an official release, it’s easy to consider all four tracks from them new compositions despite two of the tracks coming off demos apparently distributed at live shows only. So, unless you live in the region, chances are pretty good you never even heard of this band before this split release. If you have, then there’s two brand new songs here that feature members of Kult of Taurus as well to tickle your fancy.
First up is “Side Death” with Erevos Aenaon and their four rawer cuts full of melancholic beauty. Unfortunately I was unable to find any demo information anywhere so I can’t comment on what two are actually new compositions. Other than some washout in the drums that is excusable after a few spins, they all stand strong. “Erasithanatos” has plenty of hooks throughout that match the emotion in the deeper raspy vocals that carry a decent amount of echo. The extended instrumental break about two minutes and twenty seconds in holds a frostbitten groove the bass guitar and drumming make impossible to not bang your head along to, standing out between blast beat fuelled aggression with solid transitions. “Gnosis and the Frozen Stream” retains that chill in a slower performance that works well at times, though some guitars don’t always work with the drums in a cohesive manner thanks to the rougher audio. This first half also just isn’t that good. It isn’t until the pace picks up about ninety seconds in that you find some life in the mix that pulls your attention back to the split at hand.
There are two that focus on the blasting hostility “Erasithanatos” introduces, such as “Fang of the Wolf.” This faster offering finds a little more intensity in the vocals as the importance of the guitars and drums jump from passage to passage without ever feeling like you’re being jerked around, making it one of the more memorable cuts from this side. “Funeral Boat” has a little more complexity to it, though for the most part isn’t that unique compared to many greats in the Norse Black Metal movement. The chords do seem a bit deeper and, when not hitting you with a catchy groove, they feel a little more blunt while beefing the music upquite a bit. There’s also a brief hint of Thrash Metal that can be found about a minute and forty seconds in that works well to bridge one outburst with a slightly more maniacal eruption until clean guitars signal the end of this side, and a rather impressive official debut for Erevos Aenaon.
Next is “Side Fire” with Kult of Taurus, a collection of songs issued before their 2013 debut album Divination Labyrinths that were re-recorded back in 2012. Similar to the quality of “Side Death,” these songs also have a rawer touch to them that are still crisp enough to acknowledge their creation in a digital studio. First up is “Blackened Skies,” a largely ruthless performance that varies in speed, only slowing down towards the end in an effort to bare the group’s fangs in what is the shortest track of the entire split. The complexity on display is admirable, adding more tension to the already abrasive track that sadly seems to end a bit too early, leaving you stranded instead of reaching the destination the various tempos and changes slowly progress towards. “Reformation of Evil Spirits” does a better job of this overall, though some transitions are pretty weak thanks to the limited guitars in bridges near the half way point, and even in some of the slower moments that hit. There’s even an early Crossover Thrash segment just past that point which sounds good for filler to break the three minute mark.
“Ending the Chapter of Humanity” has some strong, consistent drumming that shows a bit of control against the guitars that become less restrained, often after the bridge that leads to the main verses. The guitar solo as you approach the two minute mark is also commendable, leading to an infectious groove that has a subtle epic nature that allows that said drumming to have its time of being unchecked, breaking the hypnotic hold of the music for a decent climax that feels a little less sudden than it does on “Blackened Skies.” “Traitor,” however, is where the band really shines. There’s some solid hooks in spots that sound just as good when played faster in the main verses as they do in slower sections like near the start. There’s also a hint of regional influence that can be felt in the faster paced ones, though it’s quickly lost during the more dismal leads that hit by the two minute mark, supported by drums that grow richer, tighter and faster as you approach the song’s violent end.
Born of Fire, Forged by Death is a noble idea for a split that pairs together two globally lesser known Black Metal groups from Greece and establish what to expect from them this point forward. While the songs from Kult of Taurus do already exist, having these unreleased re-recordings from 2012 available make for a nice companion to their already available debut full-length, and Erevbos Aenaon finally get the opportunity to reach a broader audience. Given the quality of the performances found on “Side Fire,” this is an undiscovered group that is well worth keeping an eye on, especially if the moody atmospheres and strong melodies persist in future recordings. For any fan of Black Metal, Born of Fire, Forged by Death easily is a must have. It’s just a shame that at the time of writing this review, it appears the twenty-six minute split of raw, sometimes primal material will only be available on CD, and not a matching analog format like vinyl or cassette that can use the two sided approach mentioned above to full use. This may change, but for now, even as modern physical or digital media, Born of Fire, Forged by Death still stands tall for what it is.
Side Death (Erevos Aenaon):
01. Erasithanatos – 3:29
02. Fang of the Wolf – 3:13
03. Gnosis and the Frozen Stream – 3:50
04. Funeral Boat – 3:03
Side Fire (Kult of Taurus):
|Initial Pressing Score: 8/10