Label: Blackened Death Records
Blackened Death Records are in a very active period recently, announcing new bands and releases what feels like every week. One of their latest offerings is this split, The Coming Frost, between UK one-man acts Uncanny Reality and Wolfrost. Both take different approaches to black metal, but work well together, with Uncanny Reality presenting two tracks that are obtuse and challenging; whilst Wolfrost’s offerings are more straightforward by comparison, but could hardly be described as simple or crude. Unusually for a split, each band does not have a “side”; instead, each band take turns. It’s an unexpected way for a split to be structured, but it means that both the contrasts and similarities between both bands are highlighted, helping give the split a little something extra it might otherwise lack. Not that it needs the unusual running order to succeed – both bands are perfectly capable of standing on their own merits, as this is a record that showcases both of their morbid charms.
“Dull The Pain” by Uncanny Reality opens, and it doesn’t take long for it conjure the kind of unsettling, other-worldly atmosphere that the likes of Leviathan so excel at. Utterly drenched in bleak atmosphere, and with a gloriously low-fi production, it is an uncompromising listen even for black metal, with haunting leads and melodies playing off of slow, hanging riffs and rhythms. When the vocals enter, they are all but buried in distortion and beneath the music, the words all but unintelligible yet their intent all too clear. It is a prime example of truly dark black metal, aggressive and alienating without being overly primitive, with the background choral vocals toward the end letting in just enough light to stop it being entirely suffocating.
Wolfrost follow with “Echoes Return”, which is hardly an easy listen either. It’s a more human beast than “Dull The Pain”, but still possesses plenty of unsettling movements, and a slight sense of wrongness. The intricate bass-lines hidden beneath the guitars are especially noteworthy, adding an extra element that is often lacking in black metal. The second half almost verges upon technical metal, but still manages to keep a raw and human feeling that is usually anathema to such music, making it especially impressive.
The following track, Uncanny Reality’s “Underlying Disturbance”, is more like dark ambient than anything else in sound, but still has a frost-bitten, necro atmosphere. Sparse, haunting synths and a drumbeat that almost isn’t there form the body of the song, whilst rasped, haunting vocals top things off. It seems strange that a song so full of empty spaces could be so claustrophobic and suffocating, but that is the effect it has.
“De Som Lever Blindt” from Wolfrost closes The Coming Frost; in contrast with “Underlying Disturbance”, its black metal assault is all the more stark and impressive. This contrast really helps emphasise the restless, technical nature of many of the riffs and movements, demonstrating how pairing up such diverse music can be to the benefit of all involved. The slight shift in melody around the 2:30 mark is especially impressive, lending the track an almost emotional edge. Yet throughout, there is no denying the raw, cold nature of Wolfrost’s black metal, and the extra flourishes and elements do not detract from this, but adds character and personality so often lacking in underground black metal.
The Coming Frost may not be your typical split in presentation and style, but that doesn’t stop it being a worthwhile addition to the UK black metal underground, and credit should go to all involved for doing something different with the format. Both Uncanny Reality and Wolfrost are relatively young acts, and it will be exciting to see how they build upon the promise shown here.
The Coming Frost can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp.