Review by Jason Guest
This split between France’s Smohalla and Belgium/UK duo Omega Centauri brings together two incredible bands, both capable of producing listening experiences that are as jarring and nightmarishly unsettling as they are innovative.
The four tracks from Smohalla are a fusion of chaotic noise, off beat and irregular patterns, disjointed guitar lines that are unremittingly savage in their neck-breaking agility. Awash in whistling winds, eerie ghost-like whispers and hellishly angelic choruses, the tracks are dense, multi-layered compositions that are as vast as they are heavy. Like their last release, the 2011 full length Resilience, this is controlled and stirring, a myriad of ugly facets emerging from the complex structures. There are elements of prog, jazz, black metal, and classical within the atonal quagmire and each composition resonates in innumerable strata and planes. From the throat-torn vocals to the blastbeat savagery as well as the demonic and the blissful grandeur of these four tracks, to experience this is to subject yourself to something that is unpredictable and consistently rewarding. Magnificent.
Omega Centauri’s three tracks are no less absorbing. With wisps of light swirling between the black metal bruised ambience, their tracks are, in comparison with Smohalla’s offering, raw and repellent. The sharper edged sounds of these three tracks are penetrating, their discordance grating, and their structures hectic and unruly. A sense of decay emerges as ‘Naissance’ and ‘Submission’ evolve and wave on wave of merciless melodies cascade and crash across the two tracks’ ugly façades. Burzum-esque icy chords and tortured vocals emerge against the continually mutating backdrops of these two grand celestial journeys. And with the rainfall and reverberating simple guitar of ‘Desuetude’, Omega Centauri close this split on a mournful yet introspective tone. Remarkable.
Two very different bands with two very different approaches, this split brings together two unique attitudes to what extreme music can and should do. Blurring the bound between genres, styles, sound and music, this is much greater than the sum of its parts. Whether taken as a whole, as two separate bands, or as individual tracks, this split is definitely one of the better pairings and well worth your indulgence.
8 out of 10
Smohalla Track listing:
- Sa Voix Transperce Nos Fronts
- La Main d’Abel
- Ô Déluge
- Les Passagers du Vent
Omega Centauri track listing: