Lightning Swords of Death / Valdur
Bloody Mountain Records
The America black metal scene keeps improving as it not only expands in diversity but also comes to grips with ideological integrity. Two such candidates storming through the gates with banners held high are Lightning Swords of Death and Valdur and this split exhibits their differing approaches and united ideals. Each has four songs with which the listener can delve into their blackened whirlwinds.
The Lightning Swords of Death is the more primitive and aggressive expression of the spirit of eternal darkness as razor-sharp riffage growls and scrapes across the tumultuous void. A violent and totalitarian standpoint is evoked from the opening notes of Invoke the Desolate One and towards the tracks middle an attempt is made at bringing forth some atmosphere though it is quickly exterminated. Damnation Pentastrike has a triumphal marching characteristic in its tempo while a prominent bass lines make their presence felt. Death metal riffs are churned to the surface against salvos of machine-gun fire snare hits. The 13+ minute final track from Lightning Swords of Death, Paths to Chaos, is acrid and venomous. Sawing riffs and scathing vocals unite in a affront to all that is holy. Ambient industrial noise inhabits the songs central section though a primeval bass line and the catchiest riffs rise as a leviathan from the ambient sea. A fearfulness of unrighteous retribution and terror are instilled in all institutions of holy dogma.
Valdur embodies a more atmospheric and desolate aura through its music as cold Nordic melodies send chills through even the warmest of summer days. Thin, fuzzed out guitars and and whispering cymbals unite with ghostly vocals on Raven God Amongst Us. Blasting drums underpin the haunting melodies of the riffs. At times they remind me of a stripped down Wolves in the Throne Room. Chant of Battlelust streams out more despondent melodies like a waterfall. In the beginning occasional deep spoken words contrast with the hollow black metal shrieks and when the tempo increases at the 4 minute mark a new levels of soaring melancholy is achieved. Borrowing slightly from LSoD's playbook on Blodhevn/Vendetta, Valdur crush with violence and aggression. A sharp contrast is their final composition, Spears Torrent. A completely naturalist and organic feeling is achieved through folky clean guitars which introduce the track and continue as the main force within the song's overriding melody which is not unlike something one might expect from Kampfar.
This split release represents a highly worthy union of efforts from two impressive bands. Whether you prefer the dominant forcefulness of Lightning Swords of Death or the atmospheric melancholy of Valdur your hunger for anti-Xtian heresy will be sated.