Artist: Allfather/Nebron/Hordes of the Lunar Eclipse/Gnostic
Album Title: Lead us Into War and Final Glory
Label: Dark Horizon/Realms of Darkness
This is a four-way split CD, so I'll review each band's portion individually. Allfather is from Canada, Nebron is from Hungary, Hordes of the Lunar Eclipse are American, and Gnostic is also American.
A sparse intro of marching sounds fades into Allfather's brand of brutal, Angelcorpse style death/black metal. The pace is quite fast, but the guitar and drums keep up well enough to keep the overall sound from becoming messy. In fact, these guys seem quite technical, a real compliment to the raging, blast-beat songwriting. Vocals are a vicious scream/snarl, and move at the same relentless pace as the music. I'd like to see a full-length album from this band. Allfather is by far the best band on this split.
Next up is Nebron, a rather raw symphonic black metal band. They've only got two songs on the split, but they're both quite long. For me, the true test of such "epic" music is whether or not the songs get boring by the time you're finished. In this case, Nebron managed to hold my interest quite well. The synths conjure up a feeling similar to Abigor's "Nachthymnen" era, and they work very well with the wall-of-sound guitar work and competent drumming. In light of the excellent work from the other three bands, these guys are my least favorite from this split, but still strongly recommended.
The third band on the split is Hordes of the Lunar Eclipse. They play cold black metal with a Burzum-eqsue edge. The guitars here are tuned high, giving them a razor-sharp sound. These songs are quite fast, for the most part, and the drumming is more than up to the task. The vocals are completely sick; they sound as if some effects have been applied to them, but the final effect is great. This is probably my second favorite band from this split. Even though I like Allfather better, overall, "Infinite Frozen Bliss" is the best song on this release, quite cold and triumphant.
The fourth band is Gnostic, playing raw, old-school black metal. Songs are short and mostly mid to fast paced, which befits Gnostic's low-fi, defiantly untechnical approach. The vocals are shouted, and along with the grinding guitar, they create a very harsh atmosphere. Gnostic's songwriting is simple, yet brutal, squarely in the tradition of other American bands like Profanatica and Burning Winds. Even so, Gnostic manages to craft their own sound. These guys are definitely a quality band from America, and I'll await their future full-length releases.
All in all, an excellent split release. This is highly recommended, one of the few splits I've heard that delivers consistent levels of high-quality black metal.
Standout Tracks: Allfather: "Tyranny, Revenge!" Nebron: "At the Pagan Aldumnas Night" Hordes: "Infinite Frozen Bliss" Gnostic: "Infernal Heretic Allegiance"