December 19, 2013

Ashencult / Mephorash - Opus Serpens

Written by Matt Hinch.

Art by Paolo Girardi

Kindred spirits Ashencult (Philadelphia) and Mephorash (Uppsala) join forces on Opus Serpens. Each band contributes a song on this split, and in both cases the track is a densely packed ball of black metal, each with its own subtle flavours.

Ashencult's side is "My Tenth Death". Between the ominous into and outro, we're subjected to a firestorm of scorching black metal. Underpinning the thunderous percussion, distant screeching, bass that shivers the spine, and blackened riff rage, is a definite gothic doom vibe. That subtle atmosphere reminds one of later period Woods of Ypres. The track is crisply produced and excellently executed but there's a primordial or feral essence infused into the madness. The simply frightening vocals and shifting tempos barrel through the listener with ethereal terror, dragging one through the depths. The melodies that weave themselves around the blistering cacophony feel like self-aware tendrils of smoke shepherding the flickering tongues of a raging inferno; corralling indefinite chaos and dictating its course.

On the flip side is Mephorash's "Atramentous Ungod Aspect". Where Ashencult's black metal had a doomy aura, Mephorash take things in a more occult direction. Mostly. The tribal chant/drone that opens the track strays from that vibe. A witchy organ leads into full-on blasting with more menacing vocals and a terrifying atmosphere. Mephorash's black themes also burn with a primal fervency but the aura here is much eerier, much more ambient. As the tempo slows mid-track the vocals also take on a more human and desperate tone. Organs and spoken word preface a further dampening of cadence, if for a brief period. The track's conclusion ups the horrific atmosphere in a dramatic and all-consuming embrace.

Both Ashencult and Mephorash complement each other beautifully on each side of this split while maintaining their own identities. They craft their USBM and occult BM with dexterity and song writing skill. Opus Serpens serves as a brilliant introduction to two up and coming bands we're likely to be hearing much more from.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

  1. Paolo Girardi is a fantastic artist.

    1. He is, but it feels like metal album covers is suffering from a Paolo Girardi overdose right now.

    2. Indeed, but he really needs to expand his style and maybe stop using that orangey/beige as his main color. This, Inquisition, Vastum, Craven Idol...

    3. Girardi also needs to stop letting that evil bat creature photobomb all his covers. Everybody knows that evil bat creatures are rude like that.

    4. Ha, yes but that's why I love the Vastum cover. Eerie, creepy, EVIL BAT CREATURE.

    5. The bat on the Vastum cover isn't evil. Hell, it practically screams "Toasty"!