The underground label Odium Records this June has released the split collaboration between two black metal bands – Polish Black Altar and Norwegian Kirkebrann. Both bands already have an experience with split records (and Black Altar collaborated with such big names like Vesania or Varathron). It is named “Deus Inversus”, like the first song of Black Altar. The self-titled track is accompanied by a traditional occult black metal video clip with all its characteristic attributes – rituals, demons and relevant garments (the cover art is in the same manner – canonized demon prepares for a ritual, all in black and white, of course). And despite all these trivial clichés, which were popular 25 years ago, the video turned out to be quite tasty and seriously gloomy.
Black Altar conquered the black metal scene almost 25 years ago, and although they’ve never played a live concert, they’ve earned their name on the extreme underground scene. Black Altar is respected among colleges, on “Deus Inversus” have showed up some famous musicians like Lars Brodderson (ex-Marduk) and Mauser (ex-Vader), also responsible for production. Three years ago, three musicians (guitarist, bassist and drummer) have left the band, now they are successfully replaced (and by Mauser itself on guitar), and fresh blood positively affected the music of Shadow’s brainchild Black Altar. And though there are only three songs on this split record (and one is only a short outro), it is evident, that their skills of making music increased, their material became stronger and more intense.
“Deus Inversus” starts in an occult manner, the song is truly soaked in a ritualistic atmosphere, and epic choruses with Latin lyrics only enhance this effect. Shadow screams with a deliberate force, and by the middle of the song the emotions heat up, but with a choral contrast it gets some sort of symphonic melodiousness (despite the traditional black metal structure and aggressiveness the song doesn’t lack melodic parts). On the song “Ancient Warlust” the choruses are even more melodic with very low vocals, but the song itself is faster. And the Black Altar’s part ends with a medieval tranquil instrumental “Outro”, acoustic and grim.
This split is released on CD, LP as well as digitally, so everyone will be satisfied, it’s always a pleasure to listen two good black metal bands once on one release. This music is straightforward and tough, it doesn’t tolerate any limitations, it just sweeps away everything on its way. And despite the fact, that these two bands aren’t in the public eye, “Deus Inversus” probably will gain an iconic status on the underground black metal scene.
Ave Noctem 9/10
Over the years, “black metal” has become an ever widening genre label, and these days much of what is given this tag is barely recognisable from the genre’s roots, not only in terms of music but also attitude. On this split Poland’s Black Altar and Norway’s Kirkebrann set the record straight with seven tracks of gnarly, aggressive irrefutable black metal of the highest order.
Black Altar provide the opening three tracks, adding to their extensive back catalogue, which stretches back to their first demo in 1998. The sound of an explosion leads into an increasingly agitated, demonic voice over the sound of distant drums, until the track finally bursts into life with intense, abrasive black metal riffing and abrasive howling vocals creating a raging cacophony of sound.
The band’s pedigree is immediately evident as they unleash a savage aural onslaught until the pace drops and the vocals change to a more chanting style, with a choir lower in the mix adding depth and texture. The track soon picks up pace once again building to a maelstrom of unholy exhortation. This is a vicious, aggressive wall of glorious noise, punctuated by guitar solos and subtle changes to pace keeping it from being impenetrable.
Resplendent guitar melodies herald the arrival of ‘Ancient Warlust’ (which autocorrect keeps changing to ‘Ancient Walrus’!) leading into the more familiar pummelling and confrontational growled harsh vocals which continue unrepentant. Once the track has gathered momentum it becomes all consuming, until it ends suddenly with fading reverberations.
‘Outro’, the final Black Altar track, is a short piece of industrial white noise which juxtaposes nicely with the battery that has gone before, and although it is claustrophobic it gives breathing space before Kirkebrann take over.
The Norwegians open with ‘Begrensa Bevissthet’ and immediately the contrast with Black Altar is apparent. Here there is a cleaner, more robust sound with the tracks built around galloping rhythms and hard-hitting rasping vocals which all come together to create a menacing, almost unsettling atmosphere
Without any delay, the drums intro to ‘Faux Pas’ follows before morphing into a black n roll style groove with ritualistic rhythms. Harsh vocals join the fray, tipping the overall effect back towards more traditional black metal. Melodic guitar solos further add to the depth of the track creating a more sinister air.
‘Et Nederlag’ opens with the sound of a creaking door which is then subsumed by battering riffs and howling vocals. Guitar melodies are cleverly interwoven with the menacing vocal savagery and the overall atmosphere becomes maniacal while also feeling a little forlorn. The track fades out to the sound of drums which morph into the familiar rhythm of a beating heart before the acoustic guitar outro of ‘Ufødte Klarhet’ builds, bringing a feeling of airiness and relief from the intensity of what has gone before.
Overall this split works really well with two bands at the top of their game, showcasing differing styles of intense black metal. These bands might not be household names within the metal community, but if you have even a passing interest in black metal, I urge you to pick up this album and rectify that omission!
(9/10 Andy Pountney)
Fusing together the music of two highly respected black metal bands where one hails from Poland and one from Norway seems like a ferociously good idea. And, without any fucking about, it absolutely is. This new split featuring Black Altar and Kirkebrann is, what they call in legal circles, conclusive evidence.
Opening with two ferociously blackened tracks from Black Altar, the production is excellent and convey the oppressive heaviness of this band. They have always concentrated hard on being themselves – and themselves alone. Their mission is a solitary one and they’ve been journeying long enough to know the direction in which they are headed. There is, dare I say, a hint of the blackened death no-nonsense sound of latter day Behemoth but the spine of these songs is true to the gnarled roots of the genre.
Following a haunting, instrumental outro from them, Kirkebrann usher in the rasping grittiness of their Norwegian black metal style. Their first offering, ‘Faux Pas’, is probably their best and gallops along in a manner reminiscent of the more angular Scandinavian bands such as Khold. The production of the Kirkebrann tracks is bleaker and lacks the bottom end that the Black Altar tracks provides – but this adds to the glorious balance of the record. And when splits albums work, like this one absolutely does, they are astonishingly addictive.
‘Deus Inversus’ is deemed a split but that implies division and there are none here. The record is seamless and clawingly appealing. Both bands have provided a near-faultless output and this will be one that the underground takes heed of.
A new mammoth orthodox black metal undertaking in the form of a split album "Deus Inversus" released on 30th of June by two of the most important and talented acts in the black metal scene Black Altar and Kirkebrann.
Playing darkened, occult, ritualistic, Satanic and furious black metal without displaying any hints of mercy in the demonic version is always appreciable. Nowadays a lot of excellent black metal albums are releasing. In my opinion, the previous year was remarkable for black metal. Already a lot of good black metal album released on this year and looking forward till the end of this year. In this extreme metal music genre first wave black metal and second-wave black metal bands are full of reverence. The experimentation isn’t the only part of the music that’s carefully measured and blended into the mix. Some moments are triumphantly filled with expansive and engrossing melodies, others upbeat and many are just plain weird. Polish infernal black metal group Black Altar and Norwegian black metallers Kirkebrann they both have seamlessly adopted a nuanced sound that almost straddles borders with power violence and hardcore at many junctures. Everything on here is pretty damn interesting, yet it’s clear that Black Altar and Kirkebrann values quality over novelty because the dazzling split is never overbearingly experimental. When it comes to notoriety in terms of black metal bands Black Altar and Kirkebrann is usually not the first place that comes to mind to a vast majority of people. While some clueless, fully underground band attempting to sell their flavor of the month band to potential listeners, some bands simply exist and create milestone. "Deus Inversus" a phenomenal addition to the Black metal archive.
A new mammoth orthodox black metal undertaking in the form of a split album "Deus Inversus" released on 30th of June by two of the most important and talented acts in the black metal scene Black Altar and Kirkebrann. "Deus Inversus" consists of 7 tracks and unleashed via Odium Records with 31:28 minutes of shadowy artistry. After so long in existence, they have gathered a wealth of experience and dark talents, which they liberally pour into their music. New Split exploding with righteous resolve, a miasma-inducing maelstrom of classic coldness. Black Altar and Kirkebrann they both have always been a guarantor of occult sound art of a special kind and always succeeding in developing music. They have always executed with the utmost confidence but never with overt creativity that made them truly rise above their black metal compatriots.
When I first heard this Split I was stunned. It was immediate and I was overwhelmed. Black metal coming from a deep, non-physical place. When I listened to this I didn’t feel that instant calling from the frost-covered lands of death which black metal so often provokes. It’s dark but the rest is abstract, it’s open to the interpretation and feeling each one gets from the listen. Aforementioned both bands deliver a distinctly experimental, atmospherically evil form of black metal with a little bit of the atmospheric leanings. Both bands every musician did a fantastic job on this Split in a radiant way. This whole studio effort reflects the grand diversity of sound brought together on this new release. Their signature sounds and disparate styles all combined in one bold, enlightened display of unbound creativity Despite the often fast, furious, cacophonous black metal assaults with a lot of segments of slower tempo too where Black Altar & Kirkebrann combines Frozen guitars output, creepy atmospheric passages, noisy, mid-paced black metal arpeggios with cavernous drum thrashes, devilish riffs and those effective, croaking Vocals. The big kicker here is all the choir voices. Indeed, Black Altar and Kirkebrann both bands could have the soundtrack to where you continually get killed by horrific, strange beasts. Controller throwing is optional so, I warn you before entering this journey.
Well, their latest opus opened by Black Altar with a slow burn of long term fright where Black Altar opts for more straightforward occultism, instead of communicating all fear purely in unbridled aggression. They create a standard cold, tremolo-picked chords, raspy screams and raw drums blast beaten away with a snare that clunks. The guitars are very fast, harsh and distorted yet they never sound like an under-produced wall of worthless noise, managing to play raw traditional black metal riffs with grooves, melody, and aggression. Their whole composition and musical style are impeccable also borrow great. Black Altar and Kirkebrann’s heavy black metal is uncompromising, recalling the early No Fashion releases through a lens of expressionist fury. This new Split's whole compositions are an extremely filthy and unsettling piece of sinister euphoria and unearthly ambiance. Everything they strove to accomplish with this new album was unequivocally achieved, and the extra dose of heaviness fleshed out by a punishingly passionate performance keeps this first excerpt fresh even after multiple play-through. After a multiple listen this incantation just blew me away with their ethereal abyss, multi-dimensional, the multi-layered, ominous musical style. Vocals from start to end with no glaringly weak moments found anywhere on this hike through the lightless catacombs of Satan's abode. Their every bit as effective in their Satanic devotion. It'll scramble your trusty scythe to cut through it.
This Split album is filled with a slew of cadence, apocalyptic, ominous, hellish, powerful riffs work. As well bass line up is whopping, intense, strong, rumbling, slithering. Drumming, the percussion line up is bleak, frantic, solid, clattering and powerful. In each track morbidly delicious, macabre, soaring, dark eerie riffs, bass lineups matched in a good manner. The most striking thing you’ll notice about the sound of Black Altar and Kirkebrann is the air of aggression,occult, ritualistic and blasphemous that quite literally drips from the noise they create. This whole materials sound deliver raw emotion and pure energy. “Deus Inversus” endures beauty of black metal and rinse purity of black flame. This Split indulges strong songwriting and brilliant musicianship. vocals occupy the other spot on the podium and even though it isn’t too grating. Vocals decently large voice that does well for their band. Vocals drag on in concordance with the slower parts of the compositions, sometimes recurring to subtle effects that exacerbate the threat in his words that look like they come from the most unbridled facet present in all of us. Vocals howling scream, menacing, immense, deep rasps, a hoarse voice emerged on this Split in a good manner and intertwined perfectly with their anticlimactic, utterly spellbinding, obtuse, bizarrely arrogant, mysterious, fully blistering, aggressive black metal, a distant musical style with lots of evil atmospheric, occult, ritualization accompaniment and embedded perfectly. Overall you will get sinister, gloomy, mysterious ambient from this whole Split. This is another of those monumental releases which have taken me a spell to ponder. I worship this band. They have masterfully trodden the fine line between antiquated grandeur and hollow, cobweb-coated emptiness.
Each song has energy, fluency and draws a savage landscape. Stand out tracks are all of them. Album artwork is macabre, gorgeously hideous, pretty neat, atrocious, grisly. Overall “Deus Inversus" whole split is spectacular, engrossing, significant, rich, spirituality full of evil, Scary shaking of dark vibration. This split sounds so authentic and a truly remarkable sonic journey from beginning to end. The production is impeccable, capable of handling both the massive misanthropic and gargantuan heft. Indeed this Split is such a true hidden gem of this year. The Polish and Norwegian bruisers still possess all the necessary skills and hard-won experience to put younger, newcomer challengers in their place. Both bands (Black Altar and Kirkebrann) has welded the styles together and has created something greater than the sum of its influences. The black metal production makes the riffs come to the mind in-distinctively but perceptible to the anima, simultaneously becoming a memorable experience though never repetitive. It’s always possible to detect secondary melodies that weren’t there the last time and won’t be there the next.
While some bands churn out full lengths every year or two, others tend to stick with short-form releases that give listeners hints of their progression in smaller doses. Split albums are often a great way for these ideas to manifest, and this is the case with the latest split between long-running black metal bands Black Altar and Kirkebrann, Deus Inversus. Both have been quiet in recent years with only a handful of songs seeping out on other splits and EP’s, but on Deus Inversus they unleash polished and razor-sharp material. Despite each group channeling slightly different elements of black metal, the halves complement each other well and make for a cohesive and intense listening experience.
Black Altar kicks things off with two songs and an outro, and while I do wish that they might have contributed one more track considering the three year gap between new material what is on display channels the same type of polish and intensity that the band has become known for. While founder Shadow has employed different musicians over the past two and a half decades, there’s been a consistent approach to the songwriting that weaves melodic elements into the relentless black metal base. “Deus Inversus” begins with a creepy intro that makes it feel like you’re stepping directly into a murky crypt, but that quickly explodes into scorching blast beats. Shadow has a raspy scream that towers above the recording, and the pitch is so distorted on both tracks that you’ll feel like each word is stabbing you in the chest. Stylistically the polish in the recording and the way that the instrumentation twists and turns between faster attacks and mid-tempo sections where the atmosphere festers is reminiscent of the Norwegian and Swedish sounds circa the late 90s and early 2000s. With that being said though, while “Ancient Warlust” and the ambient outro provide enough substance to be worth your attention, “Deus Inversus” is the song that stands out the most for Black Altar’s contribution as the soaring choral vocals and symphonic elements stick with you and make the material sound truly immense and otherworldly. It doesn’t deviate significantly from what I remember of 2008’s Death Fanaticism or 2013’s Suicidal Salvation, but the subtle nuances once again elevate this band above some of their more contemporary peers.
Despite going into this split only knowing Black Altar, Kirkebrann’s side stood out just a bit more and showcased some of the best elements of Norwegian black metal. But no matter which band stands out more for you, the black metal that each one channels serve as a natural complement and make this a cohesive listen that provides ample amounts of darkness and violence. Despite how crowded of a year 2020 has been, leave room for this one on your shelf as it has more staying power than the average split and also hints at even greater things soon to come from both acts. Deus Inversus is available from Odium Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
No Clean Singing
All devoted fans of black metal well know that it encompasses a broad range of variations, even among bands who maintain links to its earliest days. Even the bands who originated the first and second waves did not all follow the same path in the music they made. Truth be told, despite the rigid dictates of some hidebound fans and the debates we could have about when a band has crossed over into territories that don’t merit the name, the variability of black metal is one of its enduring strengths.
What we’re presenting today is proof of that assertion — a split by two abundantly talented groups who are unmistakably black metal bands but who each have their own distinctive approach. Both of them are capable of mounting hostile, diabolical assaults, to be sure, but each of them brings a lot more to the table than blasting fury, and the differences between those other ingredients makes this new album-length split a great one to pick up.
The bands are Black Altar from Poland and Kirkebrann from Norway. Their split is named Deus Inversus, and all the tracks are new and exclusive to this record. It will be released by Odium Records on June 30th, and today you can hear all of it — preceded by our thoughts about what each band has contributed.
Black Altar have been releasing music since 1998, assembling a discography that now includes two full-length albums and an assortment of splits and EPs. For their half of this new split the musicians include Lars Broddesson (Funeral Mist, ex-Marduk), Mauser (ex-Vader), and Alexandros (Macabre Omen), led Black Altar‘s founder Shadow. Mauser was also responsible for Black Altar‘s production. Their tracks consist of two multi-faceted but relentlessly exhilarating songs, and an outro that dramatically changes the mood.
In “Deus Inversus“, which shares the name of the split, hammering blast-beats, thrusting bass, and waves of writhing and gloriously flaring guitar provide the backdrop for scalding shrieks of blood-freezing fury. Darting notes, sweeping melody, and soaring choral voices — together with vicious, warlike riffing — accent the tremendous firebrand intensity of the music, which the band drive to further heights by even more maniacal percussive blasting, ecstatically wild soloing, and fierce vocal proclamations. The riffs continue to morph, phasing between sensations of chilling menace, dark swirling beauty, majestic bombast, and savage violence.
Launched with a more rocking cadence and mysterious and magical arpeggios, “Ancient Warlust” converts to an amalgam of piston-pounding drumwork, boiling guitars, and throat-ripping snarls and screams. The song also channels a feeling of sweeping, panoramic grandeur while also bringing into play head-hooking beats and fanfare chords, as well as feelings of savage, blood-lusting frenzy — all of it marked by possessed vocals that hold nothing back. Like “Deus Inversus“, “Ancient Warlust” is a multifarious and tremendously thrilling track.
Black Altar‘s side of the split closes with an ambient “Outro” track that turns down the intense heat from the two songs that precede it, creating an atmosphere of celestial wonder and the chilling mystery of a boundless, void-like expanse, within which sinister gasping exhalations can be heard.
And with that we’ll leave you to enjoy this split in its entirety. Odium Records will release it on digipack CD and two vinyl LP formats, as well as digitally. The diabolical cover art was created by the very talented Nestor Avalos.
Album Review: Black Altar / Kirkebrann - Deus Inversus
Reviewed by CJ Claesson
Even if you’ve never heard of Black Altar or Kirkebrann (Norwegian for Church Fire) before, these nomes de guerre are anything but deceiving. Bound in blood to the black, these two unique elite entities have joined forces on a ferocious split record, demonstrating the true essence of underground black metal.
I must admit that I am not the biggest fan of split records. Broad statement, I know. I’ve come to find that the two sides usually aren’t equally strong and there’s often a general inconsistency between the acts. However, ‘Deus Inversus’ really challenges my preconceived notions of splits as Poland’s Black Altar and Norway’s Kirkebrann unite in unholy matrimony on this record. Consisting of seven compositions (unevenly) split between the bands you get a dose of malicious black metal representative of the two nations. What really sets this record apart from a lot of new releases of the genre is how digestible, relatable, yet interesting the music is. Without entangling myself in an array of black metal terminology faux pas, it feels modern but with a deep-rooted spirit of the old, cold and grim.
Black Altar is in pole position (no pun intended), which might be due to seniority having been around since 1996, versus Kirkebrann’s disentombment in 2004. Already in the intro you get to experience the hefty bottom end production which permeates Black Altar’s three contributions in the best way possible. The title track ‘Deus Inversus’ unleashes uncompromising blackened metal, reminiscent of ‘Storm of the Light’s Bane’-era Dissection and contemporary Behemoth, complete with virtuoso guitar parts and malevolent choir chanting. Second track ‘Ancient Warlust’ continues on the same path, blending melodic riffs with a vicious wall of sound and knocking it out of the park with a surprisingly catchy chorus. Horns up! The final score ’Outre’ is perhaps nothing you would add by itself to your playlist, but it masterfully ties the two prior songs together perfectly.
‘Deus Inversus’ is a great split to either expand your perceptions of black metal or to indulge in it. The record manages to show off the best qualities of black metal from two genre-defining countries and also highlight the differences which makes them unique and equally interesting. Black Altar and Kirkebrann – individually immense, together invincible!