Dismalimerence, Nurez, Olim, The Wolf Garden

The whole idea behind bands releasing splits is, generally, a fairly straightforward business decision. Two or more bands come together to share production and distribution costs, and provide one-another with a platform to get more exposure through all involved parties’ established fanbases. The bands, the fans, everybody wins.

That said, it feels like the potential for some killer creative collaboration is often left on the table. Band A records a few songs, band B records a few songs, put ‘em together, call it a day. Not exactly a creative meeting of the minds. But this four-way international black metal affair from Chicago’s Dismalimerence, Germany’s Nurez, Ontario’s Olim and the UK’s The Wolf Garden, thankfully for us, hasn’t skipped out on the opportunity, and instead delivers on a really neat concept puled off by four young and very talented acts.

Recurrence breaks down into four parts, each representing one of the four seasons. This obviously sets up very well for these progressively-minded acts, giving them a natural basis to build upon. We start with Dismalimerence, a band whose debut LP I reviewed a couple years ago. While not a perfect record, Tome: I left me really excited about their potential, providing listeners with a killer mix of Enslaved-like progression, mixed with some more modern post-black elements, and a knack for concocting some surprisingly heavy breakdowns as well. All elements are once again on full display on the spring-themed “Vernal Musings,” but delivered with a marked improvement and sense of confidence since their debut effort. The song begins with a serene guitar intro, cleverly calling to mind a world waking from a cold slumber. It gradually builds as the ice melts and the cycle of life begins anew, until – like the first crack of thunder from a spring storm, the band explodes into life with a triumphant sort of energy and fury. A gloriously epic guitar melody leads the way as the band continues to build steam right up until a triumphant breakdown about 3:30 in. On the flip side of the epic, the band also shows it’s great ability to tear it all down into more somber, atmospheric passages that contrast so nicely with the harsher side of Dismalimerence’s sound, and in the context of the spring season, can certainly call to mind a picture of melting snow and budding greenery – a sort of serenity in new beginnings. Overall, it’s a really strong track that gets me even more excited about one of America’s most promising young black metal acts.

As we move into “Sommer”, Nurez starts things off with a really infectious acoustic, folky package that conjures images of a lazy summers day, and evolves into something that very much reminds me of the super melodic, sweeping earlier years of My Arms, Your Hearse-era Opeth. The song eventually moves on to a really clever interplay between harsh and clean vocals that sounds straight out of Enslaved’s playbook. It’s an especially cool contrast when layered over the tremolo-picked, blast beat-backed sections that create a pleasantly overwhelming listening experience. The first half of the song is rounded out with more Opeth inspiration with a really pretty guitar solo, before taking on a decidedly darker tone, like a summer storm blowing in from the west to turn the landscape into violence and chaos. There’s a brief eye in the storm where everything calms down quite dramatically, but the guitars still carry an eerie, ominous tone that suggests that the worst is still to come. This proves true, as everything returns with even more aggression than before, capping off with a blasting fury that again calls back those layered clean and harsh vocals one last time. It’s a rich, lush contrast that carries all the potential power and serenity of those summer months beautifully.

On to my favorite season, Olim brings us “An Autumnal Passage,” which starts with yet another clean intro that feels almost like a slow-motion golden shower of falling leav… uh, wait, that didn’t come out right… OK but you get the idea! It elicits a very pretty image of forests in peak foliage and scarves and flannel and all those fall things filling up every white girl’s Instagram. Stylistically, however, we find Olim switching the album’s gears into that more spacious, shoegaze-y, Violet Cold/Mesarthim kind of tone that does suit the fall vibe very nicely. Those dissonant guitars, layered with beautiful piano and keyboard melodies create a sense of immense space and magnitude, to which one could easily picture some epic drone footage of foggy mountains ablaze in a contrast of brilliant reds, yellows and oranges that leave you in a state of awe and wonderment. You can even almost feel that distinct chill in the air that undertones a world beginning its descent to death and decay, a last gasp of beauty before the living world goes into hibernation for winter. The track really hits its stride around the five-and-a-half-minute mark, where Olim really starts to layer in those synth and electronic elements, capping off with a hauntingly beautiful synth melody that feels almost not of this world. Pound for pound, the track matches my love for autumn and accordingly ranks as my favorite of its four tracks.

Rounding out with winter on The Wolf Garden’s “Wintersong,” the track appropriately starts off with a desolate, wind-accented intro that reflects the barren tundra of a northern plain very nicely. But rather than get mired down in a cold, dark abyss – the track seems more a celebration of the year’s harshest season, with a biting undercurrent of guitars that make sure you don’t forget winter’s unforgiving nature, but layered with a really nice melodic lead and synths that speak more to the frost-tinged beauty that persists. But like the rest of the tracks, “Wintersong” takes you on a bit of a journey, taking really playing into the calm stillness of a winter morning, before really opening the taps and hitting you in the face with a blizzard of cutting guitars and furious drums that feels like the worst of a nor’easter’s power and energy. Again (and maybe I’m just manifesting this in my head because of the whole seasonal vibe), the track really embodies the season really well, and appropriately rounds out the record in a fantastic way.

This is easily one of my favorite splits that I’ve heard in a long time. All four bands contributed really well to the overall theme, to the extent that they managed to make something much greater than just a collection of four individual songs. Even the packaging, with some amazing artwork from the wonderful Alessia Brusco (AKA Skogens Rymd, whose work has graced the albums of artists like Mesarthim, Tjaktjadalvve, Ornatorpet and others) goes a long way to pulling it all together and making this an overall fantastic experience. This is an awesome collaboration that makes me excited to see what’s next for all four bands, and I would love to have them come together again on another project. Fantastic stuff.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
May 27th, 2022


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