Herfstdood / Hikikomori – Vergeten en Vergaan
(Sneeuwstorm Produkties)

This split CD features two black metal bands in very different styles. Herfstdood hails
from the Netherlands, led by A. (also of Duister Maanlicht) and play an atmospheric
form of black metal mixed with shoegaze, often dubbed “blackgaze.” Hikokomori comes
to us from Texas, also a single-person band featuring Adrian of Lurking Beneath the
Sea, operating in a raw and noisy style of black metal.

Rathether than doing two ‘halves’ of the album as with many split releases, this one
alternates between bands, more or less song for song. This gives the album a sense of
variety, and a refreshing sound for each song, as the two bands have very different
takes on black metal. The tracks are lain out as follows:

Side A
1 Herfstdood – Grijs
2 Hikikomori – A Stairwell Perilous
3 Herfstdood – Obscuur
4 Hikikomori – Simon’s Quest
Side B
5 Herfstdood – Grijs (v2)
6 Hikikomori – Muab’Dib (demo)
7 Herfstdood – Obscuur (v2)

Heftstdood feature 2 different version of 2 songs, for a total of 4 tracks in all. The
material presented here is similar to the more recently-released “Lijdensweg” album,
where soaring melodic leads overlay fast-paced black metal rhythms underneath.
These songs are just as good as—or perhaps slightly stronger than—the full-length
reviewed here at Heaven’s Metal just a few weeks ago.

Hikikomori’s songs are much shorter in length. The American band’s songs range
between one and three minutes long, whereas the Dutch band’s lengths hover around
five to six minutes. I point this out because it reflects the styles that both bands play in.
The longer, sweeping, melodic passages take more time to build, in a way that almost
resembles post-rock (minus the indulgent experimentation), whereas Hikikomori’s tactic
is shorter, brutal, and straight to the point. And by ‘brutal’ here we don’t necessarily
mean heavy or technical, but raw and sloppy. In fact, the second track “Simon’s Quest”
almost has a sludge metal feel to it, with a super-heavy and repetitive riff. The crunch
on this one is very satisfying!

Interestingly, both band’s second songs seem to be the strongest on this release. The
way “Obscuur” combines the melodic guitar passage with the bleakest, shrillest black
metal vocals is equally satisfying. The final track from Hikikomori is the noisiest of all,
reminding me somewhat of Adrian’s other projects, and leaning towards the bestial/war
metal fringe of black metal.

While there’s a plethora of underground black metal out there, this is a release I
wouldn’t hesitate for anyone to shell out a few hard-earned dollars on. Order online via
Rating: 4/5

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