When two bands, both of colossal sound, come together for a split release, its effect can be so resoundingly striking that it’s difficult to put into words. The Flenser’s newest black metal split cassette features two of Kentucky’s finest in ambient and atmospheric BM – Wheels Within Wheels and Merkaba, and the result of this collision on this monstrous 40 minute tape is surreal. Each contributing a 20 minute long track, both bands deliver some stunning epic black metal from start to finish.
Wheels Within Wheels instigate with ‘Your Body, Your Blood’, which opens with a vast trudging instrumental passage reminiscent of Year of No Light until the four minute mark when the music abruptly cuts out and seeps into solemn, ambient realms. Scaling in tension, vocals eventually enter through the haze of noise from the infernal depths, drenched in distortion.
It’s not until past the 11 minute mark that any kind of discernible riff joins the fray, and from their Wheels Within Wheels plunge ‘Your Body, Your Blood’ into a psychedelic, meandering work of atmospheric black metal, playing out until the song’s intense close.
Flip the tape over then and allow the trio of Merkaba to drag you away into their world. Erupting with more typical black metal blasting and haunted howls, their song ‘Lament’ is a cavalcade of bilious aggression and eventual serenity, soaked in a scathing production.
After the hail of fury begins the peter out, Merkaba soon reveal another side to themselves. Descending into heavily ambient passages, the band then swan in and out of harsh aggression and swooning melody; how this band manages to harness so much scope within this one 20 minute song is utterly breath-taking.
By 12 minutes, Merkaba has undressed the entire song to bare, mellow verses, eventually building and building in intensity before blossoming into a beautiful and graceful crescendo where clean guitars and synths cascade through the air, colliding to enchanting effect.
These are two exhilarating sides to one split, taking you through various climes of cosmic and atmospheric BM. It’s out now on The Flenser.