Fifteen years ago, BLACK WITCHERY and CONQUEROR, both still virtually unknown outside of a small cult of maniacal blasphemers, united for the split release entitled "Hellstorm of Evil Vengeance." Exploring a style that few North American bands dared approach at that time, BLACK WITCHERY and CONQUEROR inherited their extremist tendencies from the likes of Blasphemy and Sarcofago among others. Looking back, the release can now be regarded as something of a statement of intent in that it signified the establishment of a second wave of bestial black metal and set the course for the future of the genre. Although external circumstances would necessitate the termination of CONQUEROR's mission immediately following the release of the split, J. Read continued treading the path of the Superion with Revenge and R. Forster was initiated into the ranks of BLASPHEMY. BLACK WITCHERY also persisted through the years, assuming a well-deserved, prominent place among the bestial legions. For this release, BLACK WITCHERY turn in one of the band's most primitive and punishing recordings to date. The three tracks on this record herald the arrival of BLACK WITCHERY's new guitarist Alal'Xhaasztur (of NYOGTHAEBLISZ, HELLVETRON, and NEXUL) alongside core members Vaz and Impurath. While the BLACK WITCHERY tracks approach regions of boundless chaos, the Revenge side is a frenetic display of precision attack. REVENGE's sound on these tracks is more refined, focused, and violent than ever. Holocaustic Death March to Humanity's Doom, honors fifteen years of relentless warfare while simultaneously ushering in a new aeon of darkness.
There is merit to both halves, and even in the case of Revenge, their faithfully refurbished rendition of "Equimanthorn" is worthy of respect. But even (nay-- especially) had I been as into one band as much as the other, the split seems to fall short of its potential. Short of the Ross Bay cultists themselves conjuring up a follow-up to Gods of War, a collaboration between a pair of such highly regarded outfits should have been cause for alarm. My expectations have been met for both sides, but-- alas, I wouldn't say the split warrants essential listening from fans of either act. - Heathen Harvest3/5
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