21 Sep 2016

Amnion & Balmog: "Grim Repulse of the Southern Lodge"

Spanish duo in collaboratory split release
In 2013, two Spanish black metal bands - Both with a history exceeding a decade of active music making - got together to create the split Grim Repulse of the Southern Lodge. The bands Amnion from Zaragoza and Balmog from Galicia aren't exactly polar opposites of each other, but at the same time they are quite different. 

Whether or not the duo represent the very best that Spain has to offer in terms of black metal requires a much more in depth knowledge of the country's scene than what I can personally muster. Suffice it to be said, that Amnion and Balmog represent two cunning acts in the black arts.

"Amnion's offering bears the mark of a seasoned band of musicians capable of writing worthwhile material."

Having released an album and a few other releases before Grim Repulse..., Amnion's offering bears the mark of a seasoned band of musicians capable of writing worthwhile material. Their style has no obvious influences and as such Semper Mors Erit Dux Tuus, Amnion's side of the 7", stands out as an amalgamation of several currents.

However, there is no defining moment like "this little riff", "that small portion", "those drum fills" or "that bassline". But then the Spanish trio play off this general robustness to their own advantage, turning it into a strong side. Semper Mors... is a mish mash of black metal sounds centered around a morbid cacophony made of guitars and cavernours atmospheres.

Though the dominant portion of the track is largely driven by speeding blast beats, Amnion have a way of playing around with rhythm that is seldom seen in the genre. This in turn plays off that same wholesomeness that pulls everything into one musical singularity.

"Balmog's songwriting centers more around riffing,"

Elaborating on what was mentioned earlier, Amnion and Balmog have several elements in common; After all they fall under the same categorisation. But there are at least as many differences as there are similarities between the two. Balmog's songwriting centers more around riffing - some may call this a more traditional approach - but the production is also more in tune with modernity.

The way Balmog arpeggiate their way through malicious chords and scales are reminiscent of a few contemporary groups, but the band's main strength lies with their ear for melody and the way these are put together over a strong and ponderous rhythm-section. Only occasionally do they lurch into life with faster tremolo pieces, but only for short bursts before they fall back into the realms of deliberate riffs.

The efforts of both bands speak of great musical integrity and a creativity that many newer bands lack. True, there is not much new under the sun about either group, but their songwriting styles and sound both constrast and complement each other with their vast differences and many likenesses. If you're expecting the next big thing in progressive, experimental black metal, you will have to keep looking. But if you're into varied but concise outlets of traditional black metal with several twists and turns, look no further.


Released in 2013 by Filthy Cave Records


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