Review: In Satan’s Honour (Hex Morbidity/Baalberith/Forneus Split)

Posted: February 16, 2014 in Reviews
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Split CDs are not something I’ve ever really got into too. Mostly because I prefer full length records from bands to really gauge their sound and whether I like them or not. I also find that they can sometimes be pretty hard to find commercially, but maybe thats the point. But what split records are really good at is showcasing bands in a short burst, and it is definitely a medium I’m becoming more familiar and more fond of. This three way split from members of the UK black metal underground is, for all intensive purposes, my first proper split review, and I’d like to thank the guy from Hex Morbidity who asked me to review it! (Thanks dude!)

The split starts with three tracks from Baalberith, Satanic black metallers who have been around in some form or another since 1999 (they split up as Black Death then were reformed in 2006 with a new name). ‘Abortion of Religious Futility’ is a solid opener, with waves of mournful riffs and reverb soaked vocals giving a very hellish atmosphere. ‘Quest for Satan’ is decidedly more violent and to the point, although the gurgling howl of ‘SAATAAANN!!’ is maybe a bit much The vocals are  too overproduced for me in this track; too much going on to keep the lyrics clear and it all becomes a bit messy. It has a nice variety of slower sections and all out assault however which keeps it interesting musically. ‘Apparition of Skulls’ is a much slower, more suffocating and dense track. I think its the best of the three Baalberith tracks, because it has a great atmosphere of filth and evil. I’m a sucker for atmosphere in black metal songs, and this is full of it. You can feel the hate on your skin.

Hex Morbidity have a much clearer production set up than Baalberith, and a much more straightforward approach. They play black metal that is more modern and dare I say lacking in atmosphere. Maybe its the production, I don’t know. The vocals are terrific though, Jarod Lawley has a great black metal rasp. The track ‘Unbaptised’ has a catchy central riff, and is definitely the best of their three; short, sharp and brutally effective. ‘Holy Shrines’ is a bit forgettable to be honest, nothing wrong with it but nothing that grabs me. ‘Stench of Lord and Lamb’ is a lumbering exercise in almost blackened doom at the start, which is pretty cool too. It also has a suitably melodic solo, a rarity in black metal sometimes.

Onto Forneus, our final band. And I must say, personally they blow the others out of the water with their vicious blackened death metal assault. ‘Litanies of Hatred’ comes scorching out of the speakers, with a Marduk-esque regard for breathing space. There’s something refreshingly relentless about it, showering blastbeats like meteor hail. ‘Embrace the Covenant’ has an almost dissonant intro before turning into the most headbanging song on the record. The riffing is infectious, and there’s a very Swedish feel to their blackened assault; its much more Marduk and Dissection than Mayhem or Darkthrone. This is a very good thing. Too many bands plunder Norwegian black metal and ignore just over the border. They close the split with the titanic ‘Blood Eagle (The Exile)’, which is a seriously epic slice of black metal. Imagine Primordial without the pagan/Celtic influence, and you’re about there. It is a seriously impressive song, and is worth sitting through the rest of the split to find. A slow paced, melancholic masterpiece that fades out into the whispering sounds of madness.

Overall, the black metal underground in the UK is healthy by the looks of these bands. Forneus is my definite favourite find of the three, but the suffocating atmosphere of Baalberith and the no frills quality of Hex Morbidity add something good too. Seek it out if you can.

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