Black metal is a genre of music that has undergone very little change over the years, with relation to similar genres. It’s also been subject to infighting, internet wars and a lot of back-and-forth over what “true” black metal is. Well, why limit yourself? Why shove yourself into such a narrow dungeon—a corpse-paint-wearing, church-burning genre of poor production quality, depressive lyrics and anonymity? I say this admitting full well that I do love black metal and its roots, but I also like to see genres of music develop with time and take advantage of technology available to them. So it is with much fervor and excitement that I am able to present a brief review of the new split record from Barshasketh and Void Ritual.
First, Void Ritual—where Daniel Jackson, the project’s sole member, lays down three merciless, unrelenting tracks for his side of the split. The first track, “Heaven’s Gate,” immediately pummels your eardrums as Jackson rages painfully and exquisitely about cult suicide. The influences are immediately clear, and fans of OSBM will be reveling in the dimly lit light of Void Ritual. The second track, “Benevolent Mother,” reveals a more refined, ’90s style of straight-ahead blackened death metal. The vocals are once again exquisitely crafted to match the music as Jackson displays his range throughout. Finally, “Temple of the Sun,” reveals a swirling masterpiece that again deals with cultish and occult death. An apt conclusion to the album, the song combines elements of what make the first two tracks so successful and displays them again in brilliant form.
The Void Ritual side is well-edited, well-produced and very well-written. Perhaps there isn’t much else to do in Albuquerque, aside from “make music” and “do peyote,” but it’s clear that Jackson has taken the time and care to match his tracks up to his perfectionist qualities. A very welcome and modern take on old school black metal that fans of Dead in the Manger should be very excited about.
Scotland’s Barshasketh, on the other hand, gives us a slower and more melodic affair. There’s an element of doom that weaves its way throughout. “Dominion of Ashes,” for example, opens with melodic melancholia before a tightly-wound snare drum throws out blast beats to support the vocals and whinnying guitars. This is typical of the Barshasketh sound. In a different way than Void Ritual, Barshasketh are doing their own thing to expand black metal from its chains of teenage self-loathing. The additions of nearly-clean guitars that create an emotional atmosphere simply through their tone reveal a truly refined ability to blend genres. Their songs may be much longer, with both crossing the eight-minute mark, but they will certainly not bore you.
In a not-so-shocking move, the Barshasketh side of the split will not be made available digitally (at least not by band or label). You have to purchase a copy of the cassette to hear their brilliance in full. (To do so, follow the link below and do it quickly as the production will be very limited.) Either way, if you own a cassette deck, or lift them from automobiles parked in your neighborhood, I suggest you grab this one. Both sides provide a unique, and different, take on black metal and its future to come.