In Cauda Venenum + Heir + Spectrale – Split Release


Three bands, seven tracks, one outstanding split release…

Released into the world on 18 August 2016 through Emanations, a division of French Avant-garde Black Metal label Les Acteurs De L’Ombre Productions, and reviewed here by Jason Guest

In Cauda Venenum’s sole track is an interpretation of Angelo Badalamenti’s ‘Laura Palmer’s Theme’ from Twin Peaks. Recorded as a tribute to Catherine E. Coulson who played Margaret Lanterman, the enigmatic Log Lady, it’s an emotional experience. An intriguing choice of music, this version sticking fairly close to the original for the most part, the band’s post-black metal take on this already haunting piece is, at fourteen-and-a-half minutes, a fascinating and ominous journey. Befitting, yes? 7 out of 10

Okay, so to Heir’s brand of post-black metal / sludge from Toulouse next. With ‘Descent’, a gently strummed intro that paints a delicate, almost serene picture is decorated with vocals that are the voice of some gruesome and grizzled beast lurking in some horror movie penumbra. And though the sense of imposing threat that the vocals bring is not entirely convincing, when the sludgy blackened heavens open, the tempo shifts up, the double kick drum comes galloping into the darkness accompanied by haunting trem-picked melodies, murder ensues. At a little over 4-minutes, this is an intense and powerful track.

At eight-and-a-half-minutes and almost ten-minutes respectively, ‘Upon the Masses’ and ‘Sectarism’ takes their time to explore and exploit atmospherics, ambience, density and dirt. When the gates are opened for fire and brimstone to flow, a slew of unremitting post-black sludge riffs urge their unmerry way through a wave of dynamic diversity and intensity. Both accomplished pieces of work, when compared with the shorter ‘Descent’, it’s apparent that Heir’s ability to balance intensity with musicianship and emotion with songwriting, they are more than adept. 7 out of 10

The brainchild of Jeff Grimal (of The Great Old Ones) and Jean-Baptiste Poujol, acoustic experimental duo Spectrale’s three tracks alone make this split release a more-than-worthy purchase. And for all the atmospheric beauty that the layered keyboards and the occasional atmospheric sound bring to the piece, it’s the constantly rolling acoustic guitar that makes these three tracks so enthralling.  8 out of 10

So, where a split usually groups the tracks by the bands, this release alternates between the three of them. An unusual approach yes, but though the bands all have their own sound, they complement each other superbly and give this collection a coherence that albums by one band so easily fall short of. Three accomplished bands, seven accomplished tracks, one outstanding split release. Highly recommended. And check out that artwork!

8 out of 10

Track list:

  1. Spectrale – Sagittarius A
  2. Heir – Descent
  3. In Cauda Venenum – Laura Palmer’s Theme (from Twin Peaks)
  4. Spectrale – Al Ashfar
  5. Heir – Upon the Masses
  6. Spectrale – Crepuscule
  7. Heir – Sectarism

In Cauda Venenum + Heir + Spectrale – Split Release 2016