Review Summary: Two of the finest acts on the Van record label collaborate for one of extreme metal's finest splits in 2020.
Considering that Iceland's Almyrkvi and Germany's The Ruins of Beverast are the two most unique bands currently working with the Van record label, it serves as no surprise that they decided to do a full-length split together. Whilst Almyrkvi haven't been around as long as The Ruins of Beverast, they have kickstarted a promising musical career releasing the excellent Umbra
and it goes without saying that The Ruins of Beverast need no introduction mostly due to the face that Alexander von Meilenwald has an extensive list of splits with other bands. In short, the guy is used to this format by now but shows no less enthusiasm for it.
Two songs have been offered by each band, and Almyrkvi's side of the split is near flawless, it has to be said. First song “Asomatous Grove” instantly engulfs the listener with its epic, adventurous blackened doom, building on a solid foundation of bleak guitar work and unsettlingly chaotic howls, the more melodic notes lifting the atmosphere to another level. These moments of instrumental melody are key to keeping the song as fresh and otherworldly as possible, whereas the song's second half devours such dreamy soundscapes with an intense albeit still strangely alluring ambient section, one which renders those aforementioned howls even more menacing. The second song isn't quite as daring or indeed bold, but delivers the goods in a more straightforward way. The layers of heaviness are more apparent with “Manargarmr”, the sonic hellish march favouring a blackened soundscape and doing away with its predecessor's numerous melodic forays. Instead, “Managarmr” focuses on aggressive and forceful energy, allowing Almyrkvi to maintain crushing musicianship until the end.
Songs by The Ruins of Beverast on this split are a little more out there
, to say the least. Firstly you have “The Grand Nebula Pulse”, which is amongst the most creative and experimental songs Meilenwald has ever written. Initially building via unsettling ambiance and prowling trance energy into a crescendo of mid-paced blackened doom, the song takes the bold, hellish march of “The Pythia's Pale Wolves” and the hypnotic sonic qualities of “Taikitum Tootem (Trance)” as a unique fusion of elements. Put simply, “The Grand Nebula Pulse” could serve as both a fitting addition to Exuvia (though some would argue the album is long enough as it is) and as an EP in its own right, one which could mark yet another slight change in musical direction for The Ruins of Beverast. The second song of the split takes a leaf out of Almyrkvi's book, reflecting the otherwise psychedelic, mesmerizing qualities of that first song and unleashing a straight-edged, hellish musical voice in the second. “Hunters” feels every bit as bleak and intrusive as its predecessor, but enables the rhythm section to be more fluent and dependant as harrowing riff work seemingly descends into madness, the closing moments erupting into chaos before finishing with an epic, blackened soundscape.
This split between Almyrkvi and The Ruins of Beverast couldn't have been more appropriately organized, but it's mostly to do with the fact that both bands seemingly bounce off each other creatively. They both offer the same level of creativity and expansively perform music as if it were the soundtrack to being pulled down a bottomless pit of despair, but the differences between the two are also clear. As far as extreme metal splits go, this one is among the finest in 2020.