Palace Of Worms / Thoabath – Split

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Label: King Of The Monsters Records

As short as it is – with both bands offering a single track each – this split 7″ between US black metal act Palace Of Worms and blackened noise project Thoabath is full of ideas. That’s no surprise, really; Palace Of Worms are one of the most interesting acts within modern USBM, distilling a whole host of influences and styles in to something remarkably cohesive yet with clear, distinct movements and sections. Theobath, meanwhile, is a project of A.C. Way, vocalist for Sutekh Hexen; given that band’s experimental, harsh nature, it is no surprise that Theobath are even more aggressive and abrasive, with elements of death industrial added to their uncompromising, intensely hostile blackened noise.

Palace Of Worms’ offering, “She Who Holds The Fire”, is an epic condensed in to five minutes of raw black metal that manages to possess facets both progressive, and undeniably punk. Restless in its movement, constantly shifting, it is a prime example of how to write black metal that takes the genre in different directions, through methods both subtle and explicit. No one could deny that it is black metal, yet the way sole member Balan toys with the genre, mixing in subtle melodies with strong, powerful riffs and taking the song through a whole host of different moods and emphases, is something heard rarely in this genre, especially whilst still keeping the music grounded in metal. It means that “She Who Holds The Fire” comes across as having more thought and time devoted to it than most bands do an entire album, and the results are plain to see.

Thoabath, meanwhile, have no real subtlety present on their track,”Mirotheas”. Despite being just shy of four minutes long, it feels much, much longer, the walls of noise, shrieks, and harsh industrial rhythms being relentlessly oppressive and suffocating. This is most definitely not music to enjoy (if you even classify such blackened noise as ‘music’ at all – though to be clear, I’m certainly not implying anything negative with this). Rather, it is noise as art and expression, challenging and cathartic. It stands in stark contrast to what Palace Of Worms offer on their side of the 7″, but that serves to aid both bands, making the musical achievements of “She Who Holds The Fire” that bit more explicit, whilst the utterly harsh, abrasive nature of “Mirotheas” is brought to the fore.

My only complaint is the same one that applies to most splits that are so short – it leaves me wanting more. It’s over five years since the last full-length from Palace Of Worms (with only a few splits in the meantime), and the next one can’t come soon enough. Whilst for Thoabath, a longer release would certainly serve their blackened noise better, giving it much longer to hold you in its suffocating grip. Though, if you read between the lines, you can see this for the praise it is. This 7″ in superb.

Split can be ordered on 7″ vinyl via King Of The Monsters Records (116 purple vinyl, 128 black vinyl). It can also be streamed via Bandcamp; “She Who Holds The Fire” can be downloaded via the Palace Of Worms Bandcamp.

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