September 24, 2017

Taphos Nomos + Urðun - R.I.P. Split - Music Review + Full Stream.

Taphos NomosUrðun - R.I.P. Split.

Review by Trevor Proctor.

Blood Harvest Records recently announced the release of a CD version of one of this year’s best split releases which features two of the underground’s most promising new bands, Taphos Nomos and Urðun

Entitled R.I.P., the split was initially released on cassette in March of this year by pioneering U.S. underground label Caligari Records. Caligari’s past roster includes bands such as Howls of Ebb, Skelethal and Uttertomb, and also worthy of note is the fact Caligari Records was the first label to bring us a physical release from Canadian band Ellorsith
A vinyl issue of R.I.P. followed in July which was released by Our Ancient Future, a small independent label based in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania whose only previous 12” release was by Pittsburgh band, Abysme. Such is the standard of music featured on R.I.P. that it will receive this CD release on the 29th of September.
R.I.P., the title of this split release also means Rarely Investigated Phenomena (referring to the Taphos Nomos’ tracks) and Rigorously Intensified Putrefaction, which refers to the Urðun tracks.
The artwork is the creation of Skaðvaldur from Urðun, who has previously created artwork for several bands, including Sinmara and Misþyrming, and R.I.P. was mastered by Loic F, the genius behind N.K.V.D. and Autokrator.

“The idea to do this split arose organically out of a steady correspondence between Urðun’s Skaðvaldur and Taphos Nomos’ Mountain of Doom, sometime late in the summer of 2015, after both bands had released their respective demos. 
From a mutual respect for each other’s bands a pact was born. Each band would write and record new material, exclusive for the split. Not long after, Urðun lost their original drummer, then Canyon Shifter left Taphos Nomos, but neither band lost sight of the Oath. Early 2016, Urðun found their most solid foundation yet in new recruit, Coffin Crusher. While Taphos Nomos were one night visited by a powerful force declaring itself as the guitarist, Torrential Abyss, roused from its deep slumber. With line-ups finally set in stone, Urðun and Taphos Nomos whet their split contributions on the skulls of their supplicants. While Taphos Nomos rained apocalypse stateside, Urðun crushed’n’rolled at festivals in Iceland. So when it came time to record their respective songs, Urðun and Taphos Nomos were equally assured in the deadliness of their material.” 
(Quoted text used with permission from an OAF Rex copy writer who wishes to remain anonymous.)

From Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania Taphos Nomos was formed in 2014 and first came to international attention with their debut release, ‘West of Everything Lies Death,’ which was released independently on digital formats in April 2015. The release immediately gathered the band a lot of attention and it wasn’t long before it received two physical releases; the first a cassette by Caligari Records in June 2015, followed by a CD digipak from Hammerheart Records who also re-issued digital versions of ‘West of Everything Lies Death’ in December 2015. This CD version also featured an extra track, ‘The Cottonwoods Grim,’ which the band had released independently on digital formats in July 2015. 
The next output from Taphos Nomos was the ‘Marsch MMXVI Rehearsal’ EP which, in a similar fashion to ‘The Cottonwoods Grim,’ was also released independently by the band on digital formats in April 2016. The underground waited patiently for new music from Taphos Nomos until March this year when R.I. P. first reared its ugly head via Caligari Records. R.I.P. features three tracks from Taphos Nomos, with rehearsal versions of two of their tracks previously appearing on the ‘Marsch MMXVI Rehearsal’ EP. 

Taphos Nomos’ music is a strong mix of Death Metal with elements of doom and their three track contribution for this split will definitely earn them more fans within the underground. Instantly noticeable is the doom element of their music is not as prominent on R.I.P.  as that featured on the ‘West of Everything Lies Death’ EP which saw frequent and lengthy excursions into doom territory, especially on the extra track from the CD version, ‘The Cottonwoods Grim.’ 
However, they still keep things varied and whilst the doom element plays more of a background role it still helps punctuate the faster and heavier Death Metal sections. Opener, ‘Aboreal Entombment,’ starts with an intro used to set the scene with strained guitar notes, effects and a haunting female vocal in the background before letting loose after just over a minute. This fantastic opening track sets the standard for the rest of the Taphos Nomos tracks with its mid paced Death Metal accentuated with occasional dips into faster sections. Riff wise Taphos Nomos’ music is first class with the riff central to this track, and the others from this release, sticking in your brain whilst begging for at least a nod of the head. Second track, ‘Autocannibalism Beneath the Avalanche,’ also starts with a short intro which dissipates into the slowest music from Taphos Nomos on this split. This time they keep a low to mid pace throughout, keeping the riffs head bangingly slow but without fully dropping to a doom pace, again using these flits between tempos to keep things varied. 
As much as I loved the ‘West of Everything Lies Death’ EP I feel all three tracks from Taphos Nomos on this release are stronger – the elements of doom and weirdness that made the previous EP such a distinctive listen are still present on R,I.P. but they have taken their song writing to a higher level and as such show even more promise than ever before.

Urðun formed in Akureyri, Iceland during 2013 and to date have only had one prior release, the exceptional ‘Horror and Gore’ demo they independently released on digital formats and CD-R in June 2015. Their demo first came to my attention when Signal Rex released it on cassette, also in June 2015. 
The first thing you'll notice about Urðun’s tracks on this split is the production which is slightly muddier in comparison to those from Taphos Nomos yet more enhanced than those on their ‘Horror and Gore’ demo, making for a production balance straddled between crisp and muffled that perfectly suits their style of music. Urðun’s music is festering and gruesome gore laced Death Metal with guttural growls from guitarist and vocalist, Skaðvaldur, adding to the horror. On first listen you would be forgiven for drawing similarities with the certified masters of this style of music, Autopsy, and with the inclusion of an Autopsy cover ‘Charred Remains,’ it’s easy to see where Urðun get some of their influences from. However, this is no Autopsy clone and you could also draw comparisons to more recent additions to the gore-fest such as the U.K.’s exceptionally good Cryptworm, who released their debut s/t demo earlier this year. 

As with Taphos Nomos there are occasional drops in tempo such as the conclusion of opener ‘Tortured to the Grave’ where the pace slows to a crawl but in contrast to Taphos Nomos these drops are more of an exception as Urðun tend to keep a steady mid to high pace throughout. As with Taphos Nomos’ contribution there’s also some exceptional guitar solos to be heard such as that on stand out track, ‘Wrath of the Zombies’ which illustrate a level of musicianship that betrays their relatively short longevity. 
This level of musicianship is blatantly obvious on listening to both Urðun’s releases, you’d never think this is a band only on its second release, they sound like a band that’s been playing together for years and the performances from all members are exceptionally tight - we can only start to imagine what Urðun will be capable of with a few more releases and a bit more experience under their belts. Across their five track contribution Urðun delivers strong, authentic no nonsense Death Metal that will appeal to both fans of music from the late 1980’s/early 1990’s as well as recent fans of proper Death Metal – perfectly summed up by the press release that stated, “Urðun’s expertise is pure, pustulent headbanging death.”

Both Taphos Nomos and Urðun have brought their music and songwriting to a higher level on R.I.P. In both cases their previous releases were nothing short of sublime yet somehow they have both managed to take their musicianship and songwriting to a new and even better standard. Some people refer to this style of Death Metal as old school; I prefer to think of it as ageless, as long as it’s delivered with authentic passion and doesn’t rip anyone off. This is definitely the case for the music by both bands – one of the year’s best splits and one worthy of its multiple presses. 

An essential purchase 9/10.

The full release is now available to stream in its entirety below.

01 - Taphos Nomos - Arboreal Entombment
02 - Taphos Nomos - Autocannibalism Beneath the Avalanche
03 - Taphos Nomos - Lightning Stroke Obliteration (Bolt Catcher)
04 - Urðun - Tortured to the Grave
05 - Urðun - Immense Rot
06 - Urðun - Wrath of the Zombies
07 - Urðun - Grafir & Bein
08 - Urðun - Charred Remains. (Autopsy cover)

R.I.P. by Taphos NomosUrðun will be released on CD by Blood Harvest Records on the 29th of September and can be pre-ordered here, the release is still available on cassette via Blood Harvest Records here.

R.I.P. is still available on vinyl from Our Ancient Future and can be purchased for a mere $7 by following this link.

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