This release promises to be one of this year’s more abstract splits, with two experimental lo-fi solo projects teaming up to deliver a terrifying sonic journey into the unknown, namely Croatian grind lunatic Zmajevdah and mysterious Russian drone outfit Emotion of Loss.
This is the second Zmajevdah release to be made available through Grindcore Karaoke, and the material here is a far cry from the hyperactive cyber-grind of ‘Zmajevdah v.0’, showcasing a bleak aesthetic that has more in common with black metal than their previous Gridlink worship. ‘Once, Alienation’ kick starts the EP, conjuring up an incredibly harsh whirlwind of strained tremolo riffs and frantic blastbeats. Once you’ve penetrated its icy exterior, there’s a faintly melancholy essence at the heart of this song. The track quickly and steadily escalates into chaos, with the guitars eventually resembling some kind of swirling 16-bit nightmare before a weighty palm-muted chunk breaks the tension, ushering in an utterly bizarre discordant finish. ‘Once, Alienation’ is certainly a very interesting song, but it’s the next track, ‘Disintegration, Today!’ that finds Zmajevdah distancing itself even further from their former sound, with enthralling results. This song has a kind of decaying yet majestic feel to it, somehow sounding simultaneously cold and harsh but also warm and inviting. Its fuzzy, enveloping aura brings to mind US ambient black metal project Wheels Within Wheels, and anyone who’s enjoyed losing themselves inside that band’s hypnotic hymns will feel right at home here.
Emotion of Loss offer up a daunting soundscape full of vast, transcendental sonic depths that act as an obtuse but strangely fitting companion to the harsher material on the other side. Tentative cymbal splashes accompany a weighty, mechanical drone that gradually evolves into a rich tapestry of ethereal synths and dense, trembling bass tones. Eventually, faint tom hits ring out in the distance, slowly coming to the fore out of the deep, engulfing aural mire, before a crackling cacophony of distorted screams croaks its way into your eardrums as the piece builds to its unsettling climax. When the track does come to end, it feels a little abrupt, snapping you out of the strange hypnagogic trance you’re likely to find yourself in. Despite running for around 14 minutes, it feels like this track could have lasted even longer; it would have been supremely satisfying to have that weird concoction of manipulated vocals and droning bass vibrations build even further, until they reached deafeningly intense levels. Even so, this is still a pretty respectable slab of ambient terror, best suited for inducing nightmares after those hazy late-night listening sessions.
Grindcore Karaoke’s tireless dedication to unearthing the harshest, weirdest, nastiest sounds on the net is yet another reason to love this label (as if you needed another!), and this split is well worth checking out if you’ve been digging some of the more esoteric noises Randall has been selecting lately. Whilst this may not be to everyone’s tastes, open-minded black metal enthusiasts and fans of noise and dark ambient will find much to enjoy here. As per usual with Grindcore Karaoke releases, you can download this one for free, but if you want a physical copy of this split you’ll have to act fast – the tape is being released in an ultra-limited number of 24 (!) through Zugzwang Productions, and is available for pre-order now.