Antichrist Magazine

Here we have a split of Polish (based in London since some time) and Norwegian bands. The second one doesn’t exist anymore for four years. By the way, calling this creature “band” was abuse because there was only one member during whole ten years of existence, even if there were periods when some musicians joined him to play alive. But they joined only for that and then left project. Contrary to that in BLACK ALTAR there played (and since 2008 play) other musicians except Shadow.

Anyhow, let’s leave my doubts if BEASTCRAFT could be called a band (in my opinion it always was just a project) and see the release stuff of such already long time dead creature. Let’s talk about music itself instead. As the most, or even all of you supposed just after reading names and titles we have with Black Metal here to do. But there’re some easy to notice differences between Polish and Norwegian.

Polish play much technically, first of all. Structure of the songs tells that these guys (I supposed Shadow first of all) think during process of music’s creation and is even sophisticated. Riffs aren’t maybe very complicated, but variable and change quite often. I can feel in them, at least part of them, influences of other sub-genres of Metal – they’re rather subtle. The same thing I can say about drumming. I mean, this is massive and so on, but also variable and with some shadows of “unblack” art. There’re not only huge using of cymbals and numerous passages, but also tempo changes as well. Vocal isn’t any squawk, but something between growling and scream. This is typical Black Metal vocalization in my opinion, but not what superstitiously it is about, if you know what I mean. Oh, the very last song on BLACK ALTAR‘s part can be surprising. But that’s proof of creativity, I guess.

Norwegian presents, the same like Polish band, by the way, six songs. Music is raw and quite primitive. I don’t say that songs are the same and so on. There’re some differences in tempo sometimes. But both guitar and drums play mostly the same. Sorath Northgrove doesn’t repeat one and the same riff whole the time, but also change them rather rarely and these changes aren’t huge. It takes the drums also. Beating is quite monotonous with very few passages. Tempo is also mostly slow-middle and speed-ups practically don’t happen. Instead we have some more lively songs where tempo is faster almost all the time. Add a typical squawk to this there it is.

Personally I prefer BLACK ALTAR and this is not because these guys are from my country! I just like this kind of Black Metal where musicians show that there’s a space for technique, creativity and stuff like that in this kind of music. Well, this band was always like that, so check out their previous releases. I have nothing against music of Norwegian, but this is not my cup of beer what doesn’t mean that anybody should like this. I know that there’re fans of such music and I respect that.

(BEASTCRAFT doesn’t exist anymore, but there’re two bands where Sorath plays)

93/100 & 76/100

GBHBL Mag

Black Altar’s offerings get the split rolling with Tophet’s blackened metal evilness ringing out in style following an hauntingly ancient intro. A nasty guttural sound played loudly & in perfect clarity, it’s followed by the intense heaviness of Wings ov Decay. Both tracks show off the blackened metal talents of a band at ease with delivering ritualistic evilness.

A cover of their split-mates track, Petagram Sacrifice & a short ominous outro finishes off Black Altar’s ceremony.

It’s now up to Beastcraft to keep the momentum going & after an unsettling intro (In the Hour of the Horns) they come roaring out of the gates of Hell. What comes with Deathcraft & Necromancy is something of a surprise. Bringing a raw but incredibly detailed post-black metal sound that is brilliantly structured with dark melody. A stunning effort.

After that it’s hard not to have high expectations & while Blackwinged Messiah has a more traditional black metal sound it still delivers on dark & evil heaviness.

A live version of Burnt at His Altar has the rough, club like feel you might expect before a raw & messy sounding Ressurection Through Desecration and Churchfires & …In Thy Glory brings an even nastier sound & the album to a disappointing close.

A confused offering, the lack of cohesion with the tracks results in a messy & confused listen. The highlight is the stunning Deathcraft & Necromancy but beyond that Beastcraft can’t hold their own against Black Altar.

Kvlt Mag (Pol)

Kapel odpowiedzialnych za ten split nikomu przedstawiać chyba nie trzeba. Polski Black Altar i norweski Beastcraft prężnie działają na blackmetalowej scenie już od ponad dwudziestu lat, a wydany przez Odium Records – Winds ov Decay / Occult Ceremonial Rites jest czymś w rodzaju jubileuszowego prezentu dla fanów.
Black Altar wita bardzo cmentarnym Intro. Czarne modły, składane przez niskie, chóralne głosy będą tutaj niejednokrotnie jeszcze wracały. Kawałki Tophet oraz Winds ov Decay to doskonałe tego przykłady. Dawno już nie słyszałem tak świetnej mieszanki wokali. Growl miesza się z krzykiem, skrzekiem i opętańczym chrobotem, co daje fenomenalny efekt podczas odsłuchu. Pierwszy utwór wchodzi idealnie – rozgrzewa i rozjusza, drugi to typowa dla gatunku sieczka. Nie ma człowieka, który choć nie machnie przy tym głową. Dostajemy również świetny cover samego Beastcraft – Pentagram Sacrifice, który mimo braku blackowego brudu w niczym nie ustępuje oryginałowi i świetnie wpisuje się w klimat krążka. Outro godnie zamyka tę świetną całość, a przed nami jeszcze industrialny remiks Tophet. Stoi za nim PreEmptive Strike 0.1, który z cmentarnych katakumb przenosi słuchacza na gotyckie disco. Całkiem ciekawy zabieg, niemniej jednak powinien on się znaleźć na końcu krążka, bardziej jako dodatek. Kiedy przerabia się album w całości, trochę wybija słuchacza z rytmu – to już zwykłe czepialstwo na siłę. W całym materiale nie brakuje świetnie nagranych partii, wokalnych, które doskonale mieszają się z siarczystymi gitarami i pięknie wybitymi bębnami schowanymi za mglistym pogłosem. To również całkiem niezły wstęp do materiału Beastcraft, którego nagrań byłem cholernie ciekawy. In the Hour of the Horns wprowadza niczym do kościoła na mroczne egzorcyzmy. Muzyka, którą karmi ten zespół, z płyty na płytę staje się bardziej atmosferyczna, riffy i bas tworzą fantastyczną ścianę dźwięku, dopełnioną przez wyrazistą perkusję. W przypadku Deathcraft & Necromancy i (świetnego zresztą) Blackwinged Messiah, wybieramy się zwiedzać stare, norweskie ruiny. Wszystko to jednak zagrane jest z klasycznym dla gatunku pazurem, podobnie jak teksty, opiewające w satanizm, okultyzm i nekromancję z obowiązkowym, antychrześcijańskim podtekstem. Jako smaczek dostajemy koncertowy Burnt at His Altar, rejestrowany w 2006 roku na trasie Death is Complete. Doskonale wprowadza w klasyczną część albumu, która brzmi piekielnie dobrze. W Ressurection Through Desecration and Churchfires czuć pożądaną srogość, a jedynym minusem numeru jest zbyt krótko trwający koniec, który wyróżnia się fantastycznie zagranym riffem. Wynagradza nam to jednak kończący album …In Thy Glory – niesamowicie szybki numer, po którym poczułem mały niedosyt, wiedząc, że to już koniec albumu. Tutaj właśnie przydałby się bonus track, o którym wspominałem wyżej.
Krążek jest bardzo różnorodny i każdy fan black metalu znajdzie w nim coś dla siebie. Obie kapele brzmią tutaj bardzo ciekawie i czuć, że po tylu latach nadal mają jeszcze wiele do powiedzenia. Całość dopełnia dołączona grafika, która z góry sugeruje z czym będziemy mieli do czynienia. Klip do Tophet, który stanowi kolejny smaczek krążka, nagrywany był w Anglii, Polsce, Norwegii oraz USA. W teledysku oraz nagraniach gościnnie udział wzięli: Brede Norlund z Beastcraft, James Stewart z Vader, Nihil z zespołu Furia, Nikolaos Panagopoulos z Acherontas oraz Axel Johnson z Ondskapt. Widać, że Shadow bardzo się starał, aby godnie uczcić dwudziestą rocznicę istnienia swojego projektu. Przyznać trzeba, udało się.

Mosh Pit Nation Mag

Something wicked this way comes! And that something is a split between Norway’s Beastcraft and Poland’s Black Altar. Splits are often a mixed bag for me. Too often, one or both sides are garbage. Every once in a while you find a gem though, and this is one of those times. The two bands are similar enough to be a good fit, but different enough to provide the variety that can be such a strength to a good split. My biggest disappointment is that this is my introduction to Beastcraft and the band hasn’t actually existed since 2003.  More on that below.

Black Altar side:  Black Altar hails from Poland, a part of the world that has earned it’s place as a home for elite black metal. The split is in honor of the 21st year of the duo (Shadow – bass, vocals and Horizon, guitars). The song Tophet features some special guest to help wring in the occasion, including James Stewart from Vader, V. Priest from Acherontas, Acerbus from Ondskapt, Soroth Northgrove from Beastcraft and Nihil from Furia. This side of the split features an intro, an outro, a remix of Tophet, a cover of a Beastcraft track, and two new pieces. Regardless, the entire side is worth your time. Definitely the overall more aggressive side, Black Altar play fiery black metal that speaks of the hordes of hell riding forth of fiery steeds to overwhelm the earth in flame. Excellent quality black metal, as is to be expected from this project. Their legacy speaks for itself.

Beastcraft side:  This Norwegian project was active from 2003-2013 and featured many members over the years. The six tracks found herein are either rare or previously unreleased. For the most part (the last couple get a little more aggressive), their sound is less aggressive and more like Lucifer whispering dark commands in your ear. Extremely well executed, slow burning, and utterly evil, the Beastcraft tracks, though from various times in their career, fit well together to create a dark tapestry of destruction.

New Noise

For a split album to hit home, the two bands’ sounds must work well together. There’s nothing worse than a complete flow breakdown right in the middle of a record. Luckily, Black Altar and Beastcraft complement each other in a way that makes for a clean and cohesive sounding release.

Polish black metal powerhouse Black Altar have been around for 21 years now, and continue to deliver darkness and despair on record after record. Beastcraft aren’t quite as classic, but they’ve made a pretty serious name for themselves as a Norwegian black metal great, and their look, sound and imagery are all about the trve beginnings of the underground, cult genre.

This album is going to be a crowdpleaser for all those who can’t get enough evil and memorable black metal. Unlike some bands that sound contrived or overly experimental, all the tracks on this record stand out due to good songwriting and unique riff structure. “Blackwinged Messiah” by Beastcraft is probably the most ripping song on the record, which is saying quite a bit.

The one thing I could do without is the intro and outro from Black Altar, even though they aren’t actually closing the record out unless you are listening on vinyl. For those listening digitally, the release just continues after the outro, one thing that does make the flow awkward. Between this and the other theatrical moments and pauses on the album, there is some sense that there could be more music and less empty space, and while vinyl is always an awesome way to go, not all fans have the funds to drop on the hard copy release.

Overall, this shouldn’t be passed up by hardcore black metal fans, and also serves as a good introduction to both bands for those newer to the sounds of cold and despair.

4 out of 5.