Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Moonblood / Katharsis split (2001)

In 2001, the mighty German Black Metal band Moonblood was nearing its end. Within a year or two, the band would be no more. Yet at the same time, another band was poised to take their place in the German underground. Though Katharsis has never reached the same level of quality, they have always done their best to keep the black flame burning. As is often the case with split releases, a lesser-know band is aided by one that is more established, enabling them to get their name out there and to reach an audience that may have otherwise neglected to take notice. In this case, it was almost like a passing of the torch, since Moonblood was winding down. The resulting album is not exactly groundbreaking, but does well to offer up a couple tracks of raw Black Metal were like a fist in the face of the multitude of symphonic / experimental bands that were putting out records around that time.

The Moonblood track, "Supreme Black Forces of Steel", sounds quite similar to the material that they contributed to the split album with Deathspell Omega. This is understandable, as all of the songs were recorded during the same session back in November 1997. It is fast-paced and very straightforward, with little variation in tempo. The tremolo melody possesses an epic quality, as is often the case with this band, and the guitar tone manages to cut through the fuzzy and distorted production. The drums are, mostly, buried enough to not detract from the guitars and the vocals are at a perfect level to be heard quite well without being too high in the mix. While the main riff is very memorable, some of the others lack the clarity to really stand out and affect the overall atmosphere. At any rate, this is a solid offering from a legendary band.

Side B of this 7" E.P. features the Katharsis song "Watchtowers of Darkness Part II". After a slow build, reminiscent of early Slayer, the song bursts forth at top speed. To contrast the production of the previous song, here the guitar is buried under the vocals and drums. Odd that the older song would have the better sound quality. In trying to maintain a grim and underground approach to recording, the band actually undermined their own efforts and ensured that the song was unable to have the full effect that it should have had. Near the middle, the pace slows down a bit, being somewhat reminiscent of old Celtic Frost or some other 80's band. Not long after, things speed up again and Katharsis does their best to imitate Darkthrone, though not nearly as impressive. The track grows on you as it goes along, and is not bad at all. Still, one would think that they had stronger material than this. Despite the fact that the E.P. was limited to 666 copies, they should have considered a better song.

This split does not present anything revolutionary from either band, but it is solid and should appeal to fans of either. While it goes without saying that the Moonblood song is the superior of the two, Katharsis makes a decent enough showing to perhaps warrant further investigation into their discography.