22 Oct 2013

Amnion / Balmog - Grim Repulse of the Southern Lodge [Split] (2013, Filthy Cave Records)

Spain isn't exactly the first country that comes to mind when thinking of black metal. Nevertheless, Spain is the country that both Amnion and Balmog hail from, and on the "Grim Repulse of the Southern Lodge" 7" split from 2013 they showcase the best of what Spain has to offer in terms of black metal. Both bands have over 10 years of experience in the genre, and both bands have as such released a slew of miscellaneous demos, splits and EPs.

With Amnion there are no obvious influences - Their style bears a resemblance to so great an amount of bands that singling out specific elements or influences would be to do them injustice, and it is exactly this that also makes "Semper Mors Erit Dux Tuus", Amnion's side of the split, stand out. You can talk for hours on end about "this little riff", "that small portion", "those blastbeats" and "that bassline", but in actuality the Spanish trio's music is best if taken for what it is: A mishmash of black metal sounds centered around a morbid cacophony made of guitars and a cavernous atmosphere. Though a great portion of the track is of a blastbeat-driven disposition, Amnion still have a nice way with rhythm that is seldomly seen in black metal of this sort. It's not a predominant component in the band's music, but does give it a nice touch and much needed variety.

I'm not going to say that Balmog is the polar opposite or the exact same as Amnion. Though there are similarities given that they both fall under the same categorization, there are at least as many differences. Balmog's songwriting centers more around riffing - which some may argue is a more traditional approach - but also has a more modern sound. The way they arpeggiate through their malicious chords and scales are reminiscent of a few contemporary groups, but Balmog's main strength lies with their ear for melody and the way these a put together over a strong, ponderous rhythm-section. They only occassionally lurch into life with faster tremolo-pieces only to soon fall back into the realms of arpeggiated riffs.

The efforts of both Spanish bands speaks of great musical integrity and a creativity that many current groups and bands lack. There's not much new under the sun about neither Amnion nor Balmog, but their songwriting styles both contrasts and complements each other with their vast differences and many likenesses. If you're expecting the next big thing in progressive, experimental black metal, you need to keep looking. But if you're into varying degrees of traditional black metal with several twists and turns, look no further. 7/10 guitars.

1. Amnion - Semper Mors Erit Dux Tuus
2. Balmog - Putrid Emanations from the Tomb

BALMOG official FaceBook
Filthy Cave Records official site

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