Old Forgotten Lands / Ancient Tundra - _Equinox_
(Hypnotic Dirge Records, 2009)
by: Yulon Zhu (6.5 out of 10)
Hypnotic Dirge Records and EEE Recordings presents the long-thirsted for Old Forgotten Lands / Ancient Tundra split _Equinox_. This release brings together two underground labels and two monumental ambient forces. Both of the independent labels release an eclectic array of artists with EEE Recordings releasing black and unblack metal along with grind, death (even some techno and hip-hop) while HDR holds a ton of depressive black metal and dark experimental / ambient acts sorted within N. Skog's shelves.

Old Forgotten Lands is the first to leave offerings to Mother Nature. "Five Eagles Defied the Wind" builds up from a birthing aura of repeating lines that gets louder and stronger as the end nears. The same, ultra relaxing and basic rhythm repeats in different skins, starting off as clean with a backdrop of bird twitters, becoming higher pitched, wavier, more piercing and somewhat gothic, finally ending with a strained and dying chord. "The Falling Oak, the Resting Stone" continues with, slow, repetitive lines and doesn't deviate that much from the previous track. It doesn't play like floating along the water, drifting and passing new sights, but like being stuck in one part of a small lake. Then, it sinks into a drowning, thick drone, like falling into the water as your surroundings become darker and darker with a hoarse and breathy ending section. The last appearance for Old Forgotten Lands is "Tempestuous Retaliation." OFL leaves you with a great accomplishment as dusty noise infiltrates the classic drone, finishing with √Član O'Neal's augural voiceover.

Next arrives the wintry Ancient Tundra, providing four more tracks on _Equinox_. "Visions of Tomorrow" maintains OFL's themes and hoarser vocals (a very soft scream), this time from N. Skog. The gentle closing piano brings a compelling end to "Visions..." and fitting start to "The Silence Finally Prevails...", a track mostly consisting of otherworldly synthesizers. "The Silence Finally Prevails...", "Wandering Along a Lonely Path" and "Fade" all bring something new to the table and further darkening the mood of _Equinox_. N. Skog use of the synthesizers shows a dichotomy between the first half of the seasons (spring and summer) and the second half (fall and winter) as they play frostily against a background similar to Old Forgotten Lands. This last section of the split encompasses haunting and mysterious melody. "Fade" has the most vocals out of all of the tracks (though still barely any) and also invokes the most emotion.

_Equinox_ provides beauty in simplicity and doesn't claim to be an overbearing and monolithic piece. The communion relaxes to promote creative thought instead of filling the mind with images from lyrics and an overly stuffed song structure, allowing air to flow between every note and transition. Both Old Forgotten Lands and Ancient Tundra are bands to go to for dark ambient music, _Equinox_ being a great example.

(article published 4/11/2009)

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