Smohalla / Omega Centauri - _Tellur / Epitome_
(Duplicate Records, 2013)
by: Chaim Drishner (9 out of 10)
Smohalla's grand opus from the year 2011 was a marvelous effort; singular in sound and vision and complex beyond all complexity. A grower that has been growing and swallowing the careful listener, and once explored thoroughly, given enough time to sink and flourish in one's mind, its dark and twisted seed of avant-garde blackness sown in this fertile ground of the human soul, has bloomed with marvelous colors.

Since being acquainted with this southern-French prodigy, I have become an avid aficionado of this young musician's efforts -- one talented devil who goes by the nickname of Flo.

This split features four tracks by Smohalla and three by the British / Belgian / Swedish outfit Omega Centauri. Both bands share a common factor where their vision of a nightmarish, chaotic world is met by a dual mannerism comprised of the aspiration for order and linearity on one hand, and the natural forces of entropy on the other, making everything volatile, hectic and almost random.

The four songs contributed by Smohalla are a natural continuation of the band's aforementioned debut album, _Résilience_: liquid, ethereal tunes construct, consolidate and then de-construct on cue, seemingly on an ad-hoc basis, converging into intelligible, 'traditional' songs only to be dismantled and arranged again, processed via a maelstrom of cacophonous helter skelter rearranging the tunes again on a complete different plane of existence -- as if the very tunes have passed through a wormhole into another dimension, where they have re-emerged, re-arranged and now exist within a parallel universe. Cinematic and surreal, Smohalla's tracks are nothing less than sonic genius in practice.

Smohalla's music is very dramatic, symphonic in essence and astral, incorporating ubiquitous keyboards (that are quintessential to the music) and varying vocal arrangements, where both female sopranos and black metal screeches have room for expression, mostly in a swirling, untamed manner of a howling wind pushing forward storm clouds and unbridled chaos. On the other hand, Smohalla have also incorporated some utterly bewitching electronic moments and piano interludes that stand in stark contrast to the seemingly incoherent cacophony that has been wreaking havoc; a beautiful chaos where traditional black metal aesthetics collide with futuristic, post-modern, post-apocalyptic aural visions.

Even though Omega Centauri overall do posses a more straightforward attitude towards their brand of black metal compared to Smohalla, by no means are they your textbook band, in that they write extremely non-linear atmospheric songs, characterised by a wall of sound, complex rhythms, minuscule, intricate guitar artistry, unorthodox tremolo picking patterns and martial drumming with almost jazz-like qualities (think of a slower, less tight version of Nightbringer combined with The Angelic Process). Long, devastatingly beautiful pieces of high-pitched guitar instrumentals, ritualistic drumming of varying velocities, single-repetition riffs and a sea of searing harmonies of an insurmountable beauty. The only exception is the long instrumental closing track; a hypnotizing, acoustic tranquility a-la Marduk's "Echoes From the Past", the majestic instrumental track on _Those of the Unlight_; a brilliant, if simplistic, ode to nature.

Omega Centauri have showcased via this split that they are among the very best relative newcomers into the underground, carrying a different musical message than the lot, and whose music is the converging point of everything that's so appealing and enticing in this dark realm's art.

This artful, exquisite, thinking-man's piece of dark art is beyond recommended!


(article published 23/8/2013)

1/15/2012 C Drishner 8.5 Smohalla - Résilience
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