Barshasketh’s development has been one intrinsically linked with the journey of its founder, Krigiest, who began the band as a solo project in his native New Zealand before relocating to Scotland and subsequently expanding the band’s ranks with fulltime members Guillaume Martin and Bryan Hamilton. Throughout this period the band has been growing into and developing its misanthropic, raw and emotional black metal, and after adding fulltime bassist BB in 2013, the transformation from a one-man band into a fully-fledged, powerful force of underground black metal in the UK was complete. After their excellent split with Ireland’s KRAWWL in the end of 2014; their first recording with the final line-up, Barshasketh seemed to be eyeing the band’s horizon by paving the way for future material, and indeed the split under question here with American black metallers Void Ritual represents the closing chapter of Barshasketh’s formative years.
Consisting of a rerecording of Barshasketh’s first ever song, ‘Palingenesis’, which, as the accompanying press release states is “revisited with a new intensity”, and the searing ‘Dominion of Ashes’, Barshasketh’s portion of the split demonstrates the band in its most solidified form yet. Combining venomously spat vocals dripping with angst and depravity with darkly melancholic yet searing melody, the tracks showcase the band viciously tackling their past material with the passion and fury of their present manifestation. Nostalgia and introspection flavour the two tracks, and with the overpowering sense of melody shining through the effectively lo-fi production, Barshasketh’s contribution to the split has the dual benefit of perfectly characterizing their sound and current identity, while complementing the remainder of the recording with its forlorn atmospherics and feeling.
Having formed only in 2014, Void Ritual’s history and development may not be as eventful as that of their split-partners, yet the contribution this relatively unheard of USBM project brings to the release is just as if not more cacophonous, raging, and raw. The one-man project based in Albuquerque, New Mexico released their first demo last year, and has seemingly wasted little time in assembling the three abrasive, forward-thinking tracks featured in this release. From the relentlessly ferocious barrage of ‘Heaven’s Gate’, that explodes into a gurn-inducingly heavy outro, to the rampant wall of noise that is ‘Benevolent Mother’, Void Ritual’s effort here is relentlessly harsh yet inclusive of subtle melodies and evocatively bellowed vocals that add texture and emotional range to the compositions. Particular attention has to be paid to Daniel Jackson’s battering drum onslaught, providing the tracks with an absolutely captivating energy and speed through a relatively stripped down yet impressively marathon display of emphatic blasting.
An excellent release that showcases the sound and ability of two very exciting young black metal bands, this split by Barshasketh/Void Ritual will undoubtedly bring further exposure to each of its contributors. With each band’s existing audience being primarily in their country of residence (this writer can at least attest Barshasketh’s reputation on the UK underground circuit), a release such as this is more than a few proficiently written and released tracks from a couple of up and coming bands, it’s a hallmark of some of the great underground projects emerging and growing on both sides of the Atlantic. An early contender for split of the year, and a recommended listen to anybody who likes their music fast and packed with feeling.