Review: Torver/Arcane North – From Moonrise to Moonset (Split)

Posted: February 20, 2015 in Reviews
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New Torver material is always exciting news for me. Their filthy, raw black metal assault on last year’s ‘From Beyond the Abyss’ demo was invigorating and yet, oh so short. So their new split, with fellow black metallers Arcane North, should be something that should tickle my lobes just nicely.

Opening with Torver’s contribution first, ‘Moonrise’ is a moody, ambient instrumental piece that sets a sombre and eerie tone. Wolves howl as a swell of orchestration appears, building the atmosphere perfectly. ‘Naked in the Wilderness’ throbs with menace, chanting until a soaring riff and howling rasp appear to shatter the mood. This is very different from the Torver we know from previous work; it is possessed of a grander vision and, while still rather necro in places, shows a grand evolutionary step. The band are not afraid to add some almost hymnal vocal parts, and take reference from any number of atmospheric black metal bands to grow some cool riffs. The harsher segments mesh well, and it feels almost avantgarde in places. ‘Lunar Ritual’ leads with the hoot of an owl and a rasping, raw black metal assault. Torver are on more familiar territory here, and it rips straight to the bone with savage, primal rage. Yet synth melodies are still prevalent, showing that the band are evolving without abandonment of their raison d’etre. Laden with more of the haunting choral effects, and spoken word sections, ‘Lunar Ritual’ is the most ambitious piece Torver have written.

Arcane North’s contributions begin with ‘Invoke the Spirit of the North’, my first experience of the band entirely outside a Darkthrone cover on the recent ‘One Cold Night in Norway’ compilation. But what I hear, I like very much. ‘Invoke the Spirit…’ is eight minutes of fine atmospheric black metal majesty. Continuing this vein, ‘Cold Lonely Moors’ is vast and desolate, yet rich in both melody and atmosphere. There’s a wonderful, hypnotic quality to the icy riffing, but they don’t lack aggression when it is called for. The droning, Tom G Warrior vocal section around the 8 minute mark is also killer. It’s probably my favourite track on this split, although it’s a close call with ‘Lunar Ritual’.

Closing with ‘Moonset’, (unsurprisingly) Arcane North bring us full circle on what may prove to be a watermark for quality black metal splits for 2015. Mixing atmospheric black metal with the raw, and throwing in dark ambient pieces as well, Torver and Arcane North have both set themselves high bars to beat on their following releases.

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