Ophidian Forest / Haeresiarchs of Dis
This split from two of the darkest entities from the US black metal underground is a journey back into the embryonic past of each band.
The first portion is the three-song demo from Ophidian Forest, which is more of a global conglomeration rather than a strictly US band. Their music is thin and trebly, and extremely obscure sounding. Densest Green creates a mood that is very cult and morbid sounding. Simplistic keyboards add to the eerie mood of the song and the thin shrieking vocals at times remind me of Hat from Gorgoroth's Pentagram album. Despite not sounding Nordic really, I get the same atmosphere from the early 90s black metal recordings on this music. The initial synth and guitar twinkling on Fear Bloody Wings creates a mystical aura before the songs creeping, subterranean riffs lurch forward. The song is an exercise in ghostly minimalism, slow rhythmic riffs swaying with slight accents from the occasional synth. The final track from Ophidian Forest, Verschwiegenheit picks up the pace and becomes somewhat of a gallop with hypnotizing riffs and the occasional drum rolls and tempo drops to break the methodical atmosphere of the track. You know, after all the times of listening to this, it finally hit me what this reminds me of, the Carpathian Forest demo. That is definitely an apt comparison both in style and in cold, underground ambience.
Haeresiarchs of Dis utilize a punkier, more raucous style for their nine-track demo. Black Prophecies literally hurls itself upon your ears and hammers away with sawing riffs and even drier, raspier vocals than Ophidian Forest. You can hear echoes of Motorhead and Venom within the chaotic maelstrom of riffs as the song progresses. A malicious striking of the drum, like a monotonous typewriter accompanies a raw, straight-ahead set of riffs on Chaos Plague. This is black metal boiled down to its barest essence. After an atmospheric intro of acoustic guitar the savage sweeps of Manifestation flow forth. The song is underpinned by a nice bass line and the spoken voice is buried and it is hard to discern what is being said, but in some ways this adds to the effect of the composition. I sink into despair as the mournful opening notes of Tangible Hatred begin, that is until the song explodes into a Bathory meets Ildjarn speedfest. At the 3:16 mark the track drops back into the doomy, plodding atmosphere that painted its opening segment. The Devil's Whoremonger shows more creative depth when it comes to songwriting. It starts with a very gripping riff and then rushes headlong into raw primitiveness with a hint of Venom lurking in the wings.
Listening to these early cult recordings from both bands you can see they were already buzz worthy and both recordings featured here serve as harbingers of impending destruction. If you like your black metal obscure and traditional, then these your blood will simultaneously boil and freeze as you are consumed by Darkest Origins.