Spectral Lore / Locust Leaves - _Split_
(Order of Theta, 2012)
by: Dan Lake (8 out of 10)
Before you ever push play on this heady bit of Greek metal obscurity, the split's packaging is arrestingly beautiful. The folded cardboard case, bleached white with black print, exhibits a delicate care that is rarely taken when commercial viability is considered. The cover presents a serene sketch of roses blooming out of a pool of blood drained from a severed head laid in a convincing sleep-like repose. The distant birds in a round-clouded sky are a perfect detail. Inside, you will find a folded lyric sheet, displaying Spectral Lore's "Duty" and Locust Leaves' "Promise" in both English and Greek. Indeed, the promises whispered by the physical art alone are truly enchanting.

The half-hour of music contained on the CD (yes, there's music, too!) delivers a complex journey rich with existential drama. (Stop reading now if you were hoping this was the goriest death-grind since that dream you had about a Tarantino-Romero collaboration on some _Saw vs. Hostel_ hybrid). Spectral Lore invest the 15-minute "Duty" with a sort of martial-yet-melodic black metal that welcomes soaring, romantic leads and spacious moments of unmolested contemplation. The lyrics spin a narrative as dense as the whirling majesty of the music. Locust Leaves (who, according to their cryptic website, may or may not still exist as a band) launch their song "Promise" with a slightly darker, deathier shade, but the results are similarly captivating. There's a greater sense of restlessness with the split CD's second track, until the rippling quiet of the song's midsection takes over. The band's talented singer lifts us away from that shifting darkness four minutes later into a languid doom-like theme that carries the song to its completion.

The music here doesn't ever scream "Look at me!" like a clamorous 7-year-old or, say, Periphery, but the convolutions revealed and unfolding after multiple listens make this split a definite high point in the Greek metal landscape.

12/29/2014 C Drishner 9 Spectral Lore - III
12/29/2012 D Lake 6 Spectral Lore - Sentinel
5/21/2009 P Williams 7.5 Spectral Lore - I
3/22/2006 A Marouchos 3.5 Spectral Lore - Spectral Lore
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