Article by David Rosales.
Splits are usually revealing for reasons the bands do not intend. By allowing their music to be placed alongside that of another band in a way that listening to them one after the other is not only encouraged but, in metal culture, almost mandatory, they make comparisons and judgements based on performance differences inevitable. The aim might be to publish a few tracks more efficiently and getting the music to more people since people who know one of the two bands will listen to the other band out of curiosity. The more zealous metal fans, however, are bound to make harsher judgements of anything that is placed too close to the band they follow.
Now, Nokturnal Mortum is a rock-based, almost-black, folk metal band, whose output quality shows a very low ratio of good to bad music. Some of is tolerable, only a little is worth serious attention (The Voice of Steel), most is inconsequentially trite. All of the material they are presenting in this split falls into the last category, making the generic, people-pleasing meter explode in being maxed out in its capacity to measure laughable, poser garbage. Now, Nokturnal Mortum might have a shot if they had published this material in cooperation with a female-fronted synth-rock pseudo-metal. But by placing this inexcusably worthless nonsense where it can be readily seen beside authentic metal warrior music, they have outed their lack of talent, if not their lack of capacity to channel authentic purpose, if indeed any is to be found.
Graveland‘s output has somewhat oscillated in technique and level of polishness in its music. The exoteric displays and postures have evolved, but the inner intent of the music has remained steady ever since their beginnings. This time around, Fudali has opted to leave considerable room to the ambient side of his arsenal. Even though we could draw an obvious comparison to Lord Wind, the bits of controlled and focused programmed music here sound distinct enough and are kept in the service of a spirit more proper of Graveland. The metal parts have been made a bit thinner to allow some of the space to be filled by a folk instrument. This is unusual for the band and shows a more smooth and easier to digest side to the exoteric Graveland. The voice, percussion, and even the now more discrete guitar phrases, however, still retain a very clear Fudali stamp. The intensity and volume may have been brought to a level that in retrospective seems like the only practical reason to allow it to be placed besides the poser rock that the other band presents here. A more passive, slower advancing Graveland is shown here which nonetheless offers glimpses of a greater potential energy to deliver a slow-building avalanche in their next full album.