Four-way Split Review | Serpents Athirst, Genocide Shrines, Trepanation, Heresiarch | Scorn Coalescence

It has taken me a while to get around to this record but I am excited to finally review it. Scorn Coalescence is a four-way split which is one of the less common release formats you see out there; however, I must say that I am quite fond of this approach. It is a short yet thoroughly enjoyable listen that maintains a feeling of freshness throughout due to each song being presented by a different act but more so, there is a semblance of continuity present as all acts perform a variety of black metal, with some incorporating death metal elements.

This release is relentless and the atmosphere oppressive. The music seems to bear down on you like some looming catastrophe and lingers in the back of your brain like a recurring nightmare that you subconsciously recall without even realising. The split is littered with tremolo picking, blast beats, and the occasional slowdown. Each band features a unique vocal style which helps to set the songs apart even further. The riffs vary from melodic to unsettling chromatic, however, they always assault you at full throttle. Each track features a unique mixing quality and this might be one of my favourite parts of the record. Although the bands all use similar tools in their compositions, the resultant textural sound of each act is unique which is a pleasure to hear in a genre that many non-metal listeners will oft brush off as “all sounding the same”.

Serpents Athirst

The split is kicked off by Serpents Athirst with their track ‘Poisoning the Seven’. Immediately one is thrown right into the tremolo riffing followed by wild blast beats, layered with gut-wrenching shrieked vocals and spluttered outbursts. The riffing has a catchy melody and the mix is bright and aggressive. The piece features a repetitive form, but rather than becoming tiring it gives the music a memorable quality. The music also features a great half-time section towards the end that is a welcome change of pace. In this same section, the drums begin to feel off-kilter while the folksy sounding riff continues to loop. Shortly thereafter an ungodly shriek punctuates the last chord of the song. A fantastic opener for this split. I do however feel I resonate even more with the morbid and ghoulish sounds heard from the tracks that follow.

Genocide Shrines

Track two, presented by Genocide Shrines, is titled All and/or Nothing. This piece features similar blast beats and tremolo picking, however, the riffs start to warp into something slightly more dense and chromatic. The atmosphere of the music begins to grow thicker, almost choking you. This music starts to incorporate some death metal elements we did not hear in the first song. The vocals on this one are much more guttural than the previous fare and the music has a less uplifting quality to it. Whereas the previous track gave off a sense of strength, this one gives off one of despair. And we only venture deeper down from here.

Trepanation

Track three (cryptically titled B/H/T) immediately stands out as it is the slowest of the pieces so far. Trepenation’s offering to this four-way ritual is somewhat death-doomy at first, however, before long the blast beats kick in again. The split seems to grow unhinged as it progresses and this track might be the pinnacle of that deluded episode. The vocals are a big proponent of this sound as they are haunting and ghost-like, contrasted and combined with terrorised human screams. This track is far murkier than any of the previous ones. Although chaotic, the music also has somewhat melodic properties, but this does not draw away from the schizophrenic deluge that pours from the speakers. This is probably my favourite of the split, but to pick sides like that would be almost unfair as no song of this release is of poor quality. I am just a fan of going slightly mad while I listen to music, don’t judge me.

Heresiarch

Heresiarch brings the most death metal elements to the party with their track Dread Prophecy. Although the song does retain a definitive ‘blackened’ sound, it is slower on average than its predecessors. I didn’t think it was possible, but this ditty is the most aggressive of the split—the perfect soundtrack to a fatal brawl at a seedy highway bar. I can hear the blood when I listen to it. This piece might have the most unique composition of the bunch, as it leans on more groovier riffs and culminates in a doomy end-section that ties the split together beautifully.

I have listened to this split close on twenty times now and I have yet to grow tired of it. It is a wonderfully invigorating and cathartic experience and a must-listen for extreme metal fans.

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You can acquire a digital or CD copy of Scorn Coalescence via the Cyclopean Eye Productions’ Bandcamp page. If vinyl is your flavour, then pop on over to the Dark Descent Records’ page and grab a copy here.

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