Short, evil and utterly remorseless, this nasty split release from Cult of the Horns and Goatvermin is a sadistic trip into the world of blackened thrash from two demonic masters of their art. Cult of the Horns is based in France and is the work of Mephisto. Relatively new, Cult of the Horns first appeared in 2013 and has, to date, released only a demo and this split release. Goatvermin also hail from France but have a longer history, having released three demos and two split EPS. Both bands, however, share an indomitable spirit and the split is characterised by the raw tinny production favoured by some black metal artists and an atmosphere of abject horror and untold bleakness.
Kicking off the proceedings we get Cult of the Horns, whose short intro is the stuff of nightmares. The EP kicks into gear with the searing black metal fall out of ‘Annihilate the fucking mass’ which is short and brutally misanthropic. With the drums relegated to a building somewhere in the vicinity of the recording studio, the emphasis here is firmly on fizzing guitars and vocals torn from the very bowels of hell. It’s pure old school black metal, harking back to Venom and early Celtic Frost and it’s delivered with unwavering conviction and a complete rejection of modern recording techniques. ‘Oppression’ is a longer, darker piece. A doom laden trawl through some shit-stained sewer, it speaks only of the bleakness of existence and the inevitability of some widespread nuclear conflagration at the hands of those in power. It’s a cool track, heavy and grinding, and it highlights the potential that Cult of the Horns have. The final track from Cult of the Horns is ‘soldiers of doom – the nuclear front’, a furious thrash assault that is brutally unhinged. There is a no-holds-barred track and Cult of Horns impress as they slaughter humanity’s hopes with their bloody attack.
Goatvermin have a mere three tracks, but they waste no time launching into a white hot meltdown of blackened riffs. The production is a massive step down from Cult of the Horns and the closest point of comparison, production wise, would be the early darkthrone demos released as the ‘frostland’ tapes. ‘Mille Pretres mille putes mille gosses mille vierges’ is neither pretty nor clear, but, like the ‘frostland tapes’, there’s a certain fascination in discerning the band’s primitive clatter beneath the layers of white noise and static, and undoubtedly there’ll be purist black metal fans out there who will love the sheer rawness of it all. Better is the crushing ‘Atrocious citadel’ which, whilst still sounding like it was recorded in a kettle, has a furious riff that still manages to sear even without the benefit of anything resembling production. Finally we get the furious buzzing of ‘Decimation / holocauste’ which is similarly delivered with a venom that is all the more unnerving for not being clearly identifiable.
A split EP that focuses on black metal at its rawest, this is a niche release indeed and most people will find it entirely repugnant. This is, of course, partially the point and for those who like their black metal to be entirely free of any concessions to commercialism, this is as anti-commercial as it gets, red of claw and furiously independent. For those who like the darkest, sickest music, this split EP is for you. For anyone who prefers concession to melody, steer well clear. This EP deserves either -1 or 666 points, depending upon which side of the fence you sit. Utterly unhinged.