Abaddon magazine

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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Review: Black Altar / Vulture Lord – Deathiah Manifesto

Label: Odium Records

Date: January 15th, 2022

Here’s where the power of compilation samplers comes to its full fruition. Just when you think that in the age of YouTube they are utterly unnecessary. I would never pick up a band with a name such as Black Altar. Too simple and unimaginative. Doesn’t matter if they’re over a quarter of a century old. Then again, I’ve got a fanzine with a CD attached to it. Doesn’t get much old school than that. Perhaps if it was a compilation cassette. And boy, would I have missed out if I only skipped this one track by the Polish band.

When it comes to the Norwegian Vulture Lord, I’ve only ever seen their name pop-up in various fanzines over the years. Didn’t hear a note of theirs prior to picking up this split release. Though they are of a similar age as their counterparts here. Shame on me. And here’s why.

The split is opened by the Poles. Admittedly, I’ve expected something a bit different, judging by the track I’ve previously heard. Just a bit different, since it had some additional elements that are not present on “Deathiah Manifesto”. Nevertheless, I did not come away disappointed. Of course, you already know they are performing black metal. It wasn’t hard to guess. Their black metal is deeply rooted in the second wave. Bands such as Darkthrone, Gorgoroth or, sticking to their native scene, the early days when Behemoth wasn’t all about the make-up and theatrics.

Now, calling out these names might easily mean this is a bland copycat, however old the band is. The truth is that Black Altar has little to none novelties to offer. They pretty much stick to the tried and tested formula, all the way through. However, what they lack in originality, they more than make up for in creative imagination. These two songs, leaving out the intro and outro, are rather good. Both of them offer everything a black metal fan yearns for. Bone chilling atmosphere and just about enough raw power within to make you fall to your knees before the horned one.

The highlights of the first part of the split include the slower section of “Nyx”, with that bass line that draws your intestines out. Also, the other “regular” track brings about the dynamics of drumming to the forefront, making the relatively simple guitar layers less of a concern for the listener. But it should come as no surprise as we have Mr. James Stewart of Vader fame behind the kit. In the same “Sacrilegious Congregation” lead guitar also takes a few points for itself and the whole of the release.

And if you thought Black Altar’s side of “Deathiah Manifesto” was primitive and unoriginal, take a listen to Vulture Lord. The Norwegians epitomize the vulgar wrath and ferocity of black metal. Again, with little concern to reinventing the wheel, these guys simply rip all the remaining faith in almighty god to unidentifiable shreds.

Precisely, they are all about the thrashing side of black metal. Namely, the first wave, with bands such as Bathory (with additional power provided by the brilliant production work), Venom (with a deeper connection to the second wave), Celtic Frost (but with murder being premeditated) and other heroes of the age. Not to forget the scenes across the globe, as displayed on “Dominions of Death”, a Vulcano cover that, weirdly enough, opens their side of the split.

Basically, it is the roots of the genre, with added touches of primordial hatred (early days of Mayhem) that put these three tracks, plus an outro, over the top. Vulture Lord present killer guitar cuts and driving rhythms that cannot but move your old head into a whirlwind. With a strong and confident screaming voice it is a whole package. Speaking of a voice, “Bloodstained Ritualknives” gives you one more chance to bow down to the late Trondr Nefas who adorned the song with his vocal chords.

Simply put, “Deathiah Manifesto” is the essence of black metal. The roots, the trunk and the branches. Whatever you may feel about the fruit of this essence, namely the nowadays scene, this is where it sprung from. If you’re a fan, I don’t see a reason for skipping this split release. It is certainly a much better idea than constantly searching for ever more “Deathcrush” re-releases. Hail the darkness from which we all descended.