Two of the biggest names in the US black metal underground, Xasthur and Leviathan unite for this special split CD release courtesy of Battle Kommand Records. This is actually a re-release of what was an LP only issue through Canada's Profound Lore Records back in 2004. It sold out quickly and vanished, rendering it a collector's item. The CD release takes it one step further by including bonus tracks from each artist that were not on the original vinyl edition.
The first 6 tracks on this CD belong to Xasthur who goes by the name of Malefic and while he gets a 60-40 split in song selection, Leviathan's (known as Wrest) tracks run a between 8-12 minutes, the caustic sounds of both of these bands capture the true essence of black metal perfectly. Xasthur's first 2 tracks, "The Eerie Bliss and Solitude" and "Keeper of Sharpened Blades" are slow dirge like numbers awash in sheets of distorted guitars and anguished vocals with the later track breaking down about half way in to feature some clean sounding guitar before it explodes in a chaotic conclusion. There are a couple of instrumental interludes, one ironically enough called "Instrumental" and the second "Achieve Emptiness" comes complete with some very eerie and atmospheric organ sounds. Xashtur's tracks conclude with a blistering cover of Katatonia's "Palace of Frost" that is a fitting conclusion to his half of the split.
Leviathan continues the overall feeling of supreme somberness and despair in his contributions. "Unfailing Fall into Naught" is a slow to mid tempo track that takes some time to get going but the tension builds and builds until the 7 minute mark before it diverts into ambient territory, cloaking the track in darkness. "The Remotest Cipher" is a rumbling journey through the abyss and disc closer, the Judas Iscariot cover "Where The Winter Beals Incessant", is a 12 minute exercise in savage, brutal traditional black metal.
If you are a casual listener of the genre, you may find this a disc to be a tough listen, but it does serve as a good starting point for newcomers. If you're already a fan of both of these leaders of the new wave of black metal, then you'll want to add it immediately to your collection.
1) The Eerie Bliss and Solitude (of torture)
2) Keeper of Sharpened Blades (and ominous fates)
3) Conjuration of Terror
5) Achieve Emptiness (bonus track)
6) Telepathic with the Deceased ( rehearsal track)
7) Palace of Frost (Katatonia cover)
8) Unfailing Fall into Naught
9) The Remotest Cipher (Besides The Last Breath Vanished)
10) Where the Winter Beals Incessant (Judas Iscariot cover)