Hell and Amarok - Split
Pesanta Urfolk
4 songs (39:19)
Release year: 2013
Pesanta Urfolk
Reviewed by Charles
I am trying now to pay respects to some of the more interesting releases from last year, before they disappear off into the too-distant past. My focus here is on this split from March, released by Pesanta Urfolk (who are more at home with neofolk and Americana these days) combining the efforts of Amarok and Hell. What?! British NWOBHM act Hell doing a split with super-slow American doomsters Amarok?! That doesn’t make sense! No it doesn’t, but then we’re talking about a different Hell; the Hell who are also super-slow American doomsters. Aha!

This is a gloomy, gloomy, gloomy 40 minutes. Both bands play a very slow and sweaty kind of doom. Hell’s contribution is comprised of three tracks, but the promo I’ve been sent amalgamates them into one- presumably because this is how it’s intended to be on the vinyl release. They play with, at times, an almost bluesy feel in terms of the shape of the riffs, albeit not in terms of atmosphere. Comparisons might be drawn to the abrasive sludge of Eyehategod or Iron Monkey, but with more of a fetish for just playing really slowly. But in fact, the harsh shriek in which the vocals are delivered gives their music a distinctly blackened tinge. The guitar tone is clanking and filthy, buried beneath hissing feedback. Somewhere in the middle of Oblitus we get a horrible highpoint; a primitive groove which sounds basically like one note strummed over and over again (I don't think it is, but the distortion on the sound makes the different chords indistinguishable), accompanied by a miasma of feedback which slowly suffocates it like a catastrophic sewage leak. Towards the end of their side, Hell move towards Xasthurian blackened melody- there’s even a forlorn sounding violin haunting the last couple of minutes of Dolore. All in all, fucking depressing.

This brings us to Amarok (who actually go first in the running order, but whatever). I’ve reviewed them before, and even picked up their debut EP back when I could afford to spend money on such things. On that EP, they had a ‘drier’ sound than Hell- scorched and arid, without quite so much enswamping feedback, and a strong (albeit restrained) sense of bluesy swing. That element is gone here, entirely. Instead, their contribution is a funereal procession of thunderous chords, laden with sad harmonies. It gives way to a quieter section, albeit one where the same tone is maintained, using a piano and strings in unison. Quite a dynamic track, and easily sombre enough to fit with Hell’s offering.

Killing Songs :
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