Review Summary: It's getting colder.
Bands from Northern-Central Europe tend to be extremely adept at making cold, bleak atmospheric black metal. The reasons for this propensity for quality are not completely clear: one could argue that the region's oft-chilly climate could contribute to the winter-y feel of these bands' music, but there are much colder regions than this area around the globe. Maybe it's the abundance of natural beauty that inspires these acts to create such bleak and lonely soundscapes, but this, again, is not unique to this region. Whatever the reasons may be, it is indisputable that bands like Switzerland's Paysage D'Hiver
and Germany's Lunar Aurora
are extremely good at what they do: making some of the coldest, most barren under-produced ambient black metal this side of northern Russia.
One might assert that Paysage D'Hiver
(the side project of Darkspace
's Wintherr) have never released any truly bad material, and their contribution to this split is no exception. Over the course of two 11-minute tracks titled Schwarzä Feus
and Schwarzäs Isä
, Wintherr (AKA Tobias Möckl) traverses terrain not dissimilar to what frequently appears on many of his other demos and splits. Both tracks incorporate the same ambient backdrop that repeats during periods of quiescence during their durations, accentuating the impeccably frigid, repetitive riffing that composes the bulk of the music. As always, Möckl's vocal performance is absolutely splendid, his bone-chilling, high-register shrieks acting as the driving force behind what might otherwise be relatively bland compositions. While both presenting highly enjoyable experiences for those who have previously appreciated Paysage D'Hiver
's output, however, it might be said that the two tracks Wintherr contributes to this particular split are less engaging than and are lacking the immensely powerful atmosphere that can be found on other releases, particularly those such as 2001's Winterkaelte
(the closest analog to the work presented here).
However, although Wintherr's side presents two undoubtedly enjoyable, if not slightly sub par, tracks from an act known for its consistently high-quality output, the focus of this split is, without question, the contribution of contemporaries Lunar Aurora
. A Haudiga Fluag
, a gargantuan 21-minute behemoth of icy riffing, desolate soundscapes, pummeling ambiance, tasteful samples, and incredibly well-executed screeched vocals, may very well be one of the greatest works of ambient black metal in recent memory. It's far longer than most, yet a listener well-versed in this style of black metal will find him or herself thoroughly engaged throughout the entire composition. Relying on a multitude of variations on a single, relatively simple progression, A Haudiga Fluag
is markedly less produced and more icy than much of Lunar Aurora
's other output, and since it is probably the single best piece of music they have ever written, one may wonder why they do not choose to take this route more frequently. Everything, from the recurring pieces of semi-demented German spoken word samples to the absolutely beautiful central acoustic motif that comes into play near the song's 7-minute mark, Lunar Aurora
's side to this split is an inexplicably incredible venture that will be appreciated by anyone with any experience with this particular kind of black metal. Simultaneously bleak, beautiful, heart-wrenchingly sad, frigid, and emotionally powerful, A Haudiga Fluag
could very well be considered one of the definitive works of ambient black metal of its time.