WOLOK / ROTTING HEAVEN – The Anatomy of Madness
I was fortunate enough to get my crippled hands on this excellent split album consisting of three songs by the French black metal outfit known as Wolok and three songs by the Russian black metal horde named Rotting Heaven. Musically and lyrically speaking, this album is indeed a foul journey though otherworldly spheres. Dark, twisted, and experimental, but with a compelling atmosphere to it that remains intact from start to finish. Despite the dissonant and creepy riffs, the songs have a memorable quality to them that is quite difficult to put into words or summarize. Perhaps it has to do with the arrangements posing a challenge and yet not too much of a challenge to the listener, which is to say that one can keep listening to this split release over and over again and discover new nuances and subtle details and so on each time, but every composition has a morose vibe to it that instantly grabs a hold of the listener. Maybe that sounds strange, but the fact of the matter is that both ensembles walk that fine line between being accessible and highly challenging, which is a feat in and of itself.
"The Anatomy of Madness" has a certain nihilistic feel to it as well. When listening to "Skull Gnawer" by Wolok and "Coronation of the World’s End (Pt. 2)" by Rotting Heaven, it feels as if one is being dragged down into a bottomless pit where nothingness and utter absence of anything worthwhile reside. The ambient- and industrial-like parts only seem to emphasize and underline that feeling. In that sense, this is some frightening stuff to lose oneself in. Both acts stretch, push, and expand on the essence of black metal, but while Wolok’s sound is hypnotic and trance-like, Rotting Heaven is slightly more aggressive and dynamic. The amazing thing is how compatible these two bands are – A match made in the netherworld for sure.
A lot of sinister and exciting things are happening in the French and Russian extreme metal underground and both Wolok and Rotting Heaven are perfect examples of just how much quality there is to be found in the aforementioned scenes if one looks long and hard enough. Granted, France has spewed out a lot of excellent black metal over the years, but do not kid yourself; Wolok will be an ugly and pleasant surprise to you. The same goes for Rotting Heaven if you have not already come across this superb band before. Support Death Knell Productions and invest in this sickeningly beautiful digipak release. Keep in mind that this fucker is limited to only 200 copies, so act fast if you want one!