Vassafor / Temple Nightside - Call of the Maelstrom (Split LP)
Iron Bonehead Productions
Review by Trevor Proctor
Iron Bonehead has yet again united two of the undergrounds darkest, gnarliest forces to release a split LP which has just seen the light of day. This time New Zealand’s Vassafor combines with Australia’s Temple Nightside to bring us some of the ugliest and heaviest music on the planet on “Call of the Maelstrom.” VK shares duties with both bands, an individual whose extensive roster of previous bands includes Diocletian, Ulcerate and Sinistrous Diabolus. This extremely talented individual plays bass for Temple Nightside and guitar, vocals and bass for Vassafor.
Vassafor has been spoiling us of late with their productivity – their brilliant split LP with Sinistrous Diabolus came out in June last year, followed by their live album, Death Transmission on vinyl last December which came out in a limited quantity of 250. Not content with this recent output Vassafor isn’t a band for resting on its arse and recently embarked on an extensive European tour with Ascension, Bolzer and Dysangelium – taking in a mighty eleven European cities between the 19th of February and 1st March, including their UK debut in London where all four bands shared the bill with the legendary Destroyer 666.
Vassafor’s music is fearsome and smothering blackened death that’s as brutal as it is entrancing, the sort of music that sucks you right in and won’t let go of your or your conscious until it’s over. To Your Grave is Vassafor’s instrumental opener and aside from this it’s straight down to business as Vassafor well and truly put the boot into proceedings with Phoenix of the Maelstrom, adopting quite an up-front approach, choosing to go straight for the jugular. VK’s vocal is most certainly suited to commentating on the world’s destruction as his demonic tone brings even more hostility to this music that’s dark, sinister and dripping with hate.
Throughout this and the remaining two tracks (Crowned in Irradiated Ashes and Tormentum Aeturnum) Vassafor pummel your eardrums with some of the best underground death metal out there at the moment. Cliché maybe, but tough shit - if you don’t like this you don’t like Death Metal. Three releases of such a high standard from a band of this calibre in just over six months highlights their dedication and ability - I make no secret of it, I’m a fan of Vassafor’s music and this is as good as they’ve released so far.
Temple Nightside also had a recent release in the form of a cassette box set, also from Iron Bonehead, that features the Condemnation album along with their demo, Prophecies of Malevolence. Their side features two tracks, the first of which is Knell, a slow burner to start with as Temple Nightside build the pace and tension, hypnotising the listener before aurally knocking their shit in – a nine minute monster this track brings the listener on a destructive, suffocating journey without an opportunity for a single gasp of air.
The Howling Void, As Wolves… is Temple Nightside’s second and final track and it shows even more of their sinister side. Starting with an effect, distant voices and a solitary drumbeat it builds tension and horror for close to two minutes before slowly sucking you in further with its prolonged, yet totally destructive music. We’re close to four minutes in before the track starts to destroy what it’s captured - you and your conscious. As with Knell this is a fantastic track with more than enough hateful atmospherics to captivate the listener during the eight minute trip to the depths of depravity, a perfect closer to a perfect split LP.
The standard of underground metal rising from the catacombs this year continues to astound me – this is a quality release from two of the finest and most important bands the underground has to offer. An essential listen for anyone into vehement death metal, I’d honestly lose hope if you’re into underground music and don’t like this.
Side A (Vassafor)
1 - To your Grave
2 - Phoenix of the Maelstrom
3 - Crowned in Irradiated Ashes
4 - Tormentum Aeturnum
Side B (Temple Nightside)
1 - Knell
2 - The Howling Void, As Wolves……
Call of the Maelstrom is available now from Iron Bonehead Productions.