Review Summary: Lose yourself in the convolving rhythms of death.
Despite their obvious similarities, Taphos Nomos and Urðun contrast two different sides of the same coin. The surface-level aspects of their music are easy to discern; the Autopsy grooves, the Impetigo gore, the rot of classic death metal rumbling through the guts of each musician as they putrefy their instruments with hymns akin to early Death, Necrophagia and Obituary. They don’t shy away from influences, from these core roots of the very genre they embody--something so few bands can manage to legitimately accomplish these days. But it’s in the way each band approaches these roots and utilises their capabilities to carve out their own roles on this two-sided tape that makes it such a classic achievement, and an essential listen for any fans of the genre.
The first and perhaps most obvious clue lies in the name of each side: on the Taphos Nomos side, RIP
is Rarely Investigated Phenomena
, and on Urðun’s, Rigorously Intensified Putrefaction
. Any misgivings about what the lyrics of either band may reveal, I can speak only for aural and aesthetic values here, with Taphos Nomos’ side of this split sounding a bit more steeped in something I could even consider mildly experimental. While the bulk of their three tracks are grooving, pummelling and contagious death metal classics from the get-go, with undeniably deadly riffs, engaging song-writing and head-splitting production, there’s still an air of the uneasy and unknown. Rather than typical samples of horror, they take a more subtle or creepy aesthetic to their craft. ‘Arboreal Entombment’ begins with growing percussion and quietly wailing guitars and spooky chanting before deciding to drop their balls and breaking into the purest form of death that continues unhindered until its end. ‘Autocannibalism Beneathe the Avalanche’ once more opens with an ambient aesthetic, an eerie atmosphere before following the same path as the previous track, but it’s towards the end of this one that a bit of dissonance unfolds, the band scrambles the radio signal--almost literally with the way they open into the final segment, jagged guitars screaming their way into a void filled with a newer, heavier pace and disturbingly clean vocals chant their way over gorerotten howls bouncing between the channels, ‘isolation’
. A similar formula between the ambiance of spookiness and the invulnerability of strong, unyielding slaughter also plagues the final song ('Lightning Stroke Obliteration') on Taphos Nomos’ three-track side, and on the whole all three of them utilise unique production and mixing techniques to fill your ear drums with their brilliantly brutal but surprisingly atypical horror-death metal. There are so many small moments that stand out within three tracks that make it impossible to fully describe, but it’s an admirably deep effort from such a typically barbaric style that it keeps you coming crawling back for more, time and again, for the Rarely Investigated Phenomena
that litter and crawl within the decay of this filth.
Rigorously Intensified Putrefaction
, on the other hand, keeps up Urðun’s promise as the more primitive of the two. These tracks feel less like phenomena and more like impure and dissected flesh. The production is muddier and the musicianship is sloppier and the vocals sound less like an unidentified horror’s howl and more like a psychopathic Reifert growl. The approach may be less nuanced, but is equally as engaging, creating the perfect duality with the side that came before. What once was dread is now unhinged and primal disease. It’s no surprise that Urðun decided to close their side of this split with a cover of Autopsy’s ‘Charred Remains’, because from the beginning of their opening track ‘Tortured to the Grave’, it’s clear where their intentions lie. Between fast-paced caveman death metal with heavy metal solos and slower sections of spine-tingling doom, Urðun bleed from the hearts of influences on their sleeves. Ultimately though, this leaves a little less to be discussed here, despite that fact that their side exceeds the first with a surplus of two extra songs. There are no issues with Urðun’s approach, however, and their side is just as much a grim joy to listen to as Taphos Nomos’, and with both of these bands worming their way inside your skull, it’s easy to lose yourself in the convolving rhythms of death.