Artist: Ascended / Helcaraxe
Album Title: s/t
The production on the Ascended side of the split is murky and deep, heavy on the low-end. It's a perfect fit for Ascended's more atmospheric brand of death metal -- "Abhorrent Voices, They Whisper" is largely instrumental, yet its jangling bass, repetitious riffing, and eerie horror samples are quite convincing. The vocals near the end rise like a roar from the deep... "Spirits of the Passage" is a mid-paced combination of ultra-deep vox and rousing guitar, suffused with a good dose of doomy Finnish gloom.
In contrast, Helcaraxe's side is nimble and quick, packed with non-stop riffing. As usual, their brand of melodic death metal is also heavy on the bass, and the deep yet understandable vocals also add heft to their sound. "The Morbid Force" is a tribute to the inexorable power of death, utterly void of spirituality or sentimentality; the distinctive chorus plus the triumphant main riff will have this stuck in your head for weeks. "Dark Sorcery"'s groove is memorable, too, so much so it's hard to believe it's only 1:45 long.
This is a top-notch death metal split: I've been flipping it over and over for weeks. The contrast between the two bands is just perfect, and both deliver two excellent tracks. The cover art is also quite exceptional, also -- I like the combination of both bands' aesthetics, and there's plenty of detail to ponder while you're listening! Highly recommended.
Standout Tracks: "Spirits of the Passage", "The Morbid Force"