Crystal Moors / Omendark - _Nabia Orebia_ / _Oroimenaren Sustraiak_
(Draug-Dur Productions, 2007)
by: Quentin Kalis (7 and 6.5 out of 10 respectively)
Sometimes splits are released with two widely divergent bands. This is not one of them; both participants are Spanish bands performing black metal, sharing at least one member (Aernus), folk tendencies and a love of posing in the woods with swords and shields.

Crystal Moors' five tracks were originally recorded in 2005, but were not released before then due to troubles with their former label. If pseudonyms such as Uruksoth and Faramir can be considered as reliable indicators, they are part of the Tolkien metal tradition. Their fairly full sound allows the band to showcase their folk tendencies, most noticeable on the Ulver / October Falls pastoral folk interlude "El SueƱo de Nabia Oreba".

The folk aspects were welded rather clumsily with the metal sections, but are ingenious by comparison to Omendark. Indeed, Omendark could have produced an excellent entrant to neofolk or primal black metal, but by combining the two, they produced a bastard less than the sum of their parts. Their brand of ferocious black metal is not well-suited for combination with folk, and it just sounds silly and amateurish. Omendark are not alone, and albums such as Svarrogh's _Kaukeri_ and Temnozor's debut suffer from the same affliction.

Interestingly, Omendark sing in their native Basque, but it is unclear whether they tap into the well of Basque nationalism or separatism, as epitomised by ETA, or whether they prefer Tolkien.

Both projects are still young, and either may yet evolve into Spain's premier folk metal band. For now, their atavistic vision has been poorly recognised, and the folk and metal sections too incongruous to provide a satisfactory listen.


(article published 3/2/2008)

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