Pagan Heritage/Sombre Labyrinthe
Hymns of Suicide
Runic Records 2008
Raw and uncompromising black metal from two Dutch black metal misanthropic entities is what Runic Records unleashes on this world with the Hymns of Suicide split. I don't think I have heard such grim and warmth stealing black metal in the recent past. Each time I am finished listening to this split I am bereft of the will to live.
Pagan Heritage's 3 tracks are supremely grim and suicidal. On Torn Apart, melancholic bass guitar lines and plodding fuzzed out riffs serve to create a brutally cold atmosphere. The chiming bell is used to chilling effect as well. The funeral march is what I picture for the beginning of Der Ring des Nibulungen but then the song picks up the pace a little bit with more of a Burzum-ish feel to it. The lead at the 4:27 mark is so simple yet forlorn. The last song by Pagan Heritage is The Final Battle and is hypnotic and depressive in its mood, not unlike modern Xasthur but with a slightly more folk feel to it. This mainly has to do with the ancient sounding melodies at the songs initial stages. The middle movement of this song calls to mind The Gate of Inanna by Beherit. William Timmer's vocals are unfathomably inhuman. So cold and distant.
Sombre Labyrinthe's 3 songs are more like wild creature when compared to the preceding material. L' Offrande Du Sang kicks matters off in a Burzum-like vein but then explodes into a raw blasting tempest of harsh black metal. The rest of the song alternates between these two approaches. Neurastheme is an exercise in blood freezing black metal that moans like a wounded wolf and then howls like wind through the trees. The bitter melodies construct a snow shrouded forest I can lose myself within. SL's final track, Ombre Morte is an ambient noise cocoon that wraps the listener in cryptic madness. Madrigal's vocals are like a feral beast, lashing out with rage.
Two great black metal bands attempt to induce the listener into ending their life using stylistically different methods on this split release. I slightly prefer Pagan Heritage to Sombre Labyrinthe, though it mainly has to do with taste rather than one being any better than the other. Hymns of Suicide grinds away at my humanity like a slow moving glacier. Unrelenting and unstoppable and unbelievably cold.