Lightning Swords of Death - Valdur - Split
Cult War Records
Blackened Thrash /Melodic Black Metal
8 songs (61'03")
Release year: 2008
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

This split ended up in my lap, because someone whose opinion about extreme metal I really respect wanted me to check it out. Especially the Lightning Swords of Death side, but a week of listening and I am totally hooked throughout.

Formed about seven years ago, in such an unlikely place for dark arts as balmy Los Angeles, California, Lightning Swords of Death kept a pair of its founding members and appears determined to summon and worship chaos in their own brutal, but particularly memorable and evocative, manner.

Invoke the Desolate One is a fine piece of bestial blackened thrash, but my full appreciation of the band’s contribution to the split began with Damnation Pentastrike, where they uncorked a knee-bending magnificent glorification of the Dark Lord, combining their own thrashed out USBM, Watain style blasphemy and, what I can perhaps call, Behemoth moment, especially when the band arrived at the song’s melodic solo. And this is after the first part of the track hacks you to pieces in marching tempo with the riffs to boot.

One of the strongest traits of Lightning Swords of Death is their diversity and unpredictability. Venter of the Black Beast may start almost doomy, sounding in spots like Xasthur albeit with newfound heft and toughness. A minute shift, and we are finding ourselves mesmerized by another traveling tremolo and crushing drums, again caught up in invocation and praising the Black Beast. Do not be fooled by the atmospheric beginning of the epic Paths to Chaos, the face-ripping thrash will end up thundering, before another SunnO))) sidestep. The sonic frequency experimentation is followed by the penultimate crescendo culmination, demonic melody sawing the senses in half, vocals sounding totally hellish. Autarch’s voice appears as if he is covered under a dense veil, being tortured continuously. This ending of Paths to Chaos would have been worth the price of the Lightning Swords of Death side, if not the whole split, alone. In conclusion, everything seems to drown in nightmarish pool of magma you see on SciFi channel documentaries depicting planetary catastrophes.

Valdur not only whisks us to the North of the Bruin Republic, several hundreds of miles away, replacing the ocean hugging city with the remote mountainous terrain of the Inyo National Forest and Yosemite National Park, it is also changing things musically to the great extent as well. Valdur, as opposed to Lightning Swords of Death quirkiness and impulsiveness, plays much more traditional black metal. Traditional, in Valdur’s case, does not mean bad. Rhythmically the Valdur’s side is a lot steadier, blasting prevails, over which frozen melodies flow with a hint of heroic stoicism (Raven God Amongst Us) or melancholic wistfulness (Chant of Battlelust). From more melodic (Raven God Amongst Us) to more buzzsaw (Chant of Battlelust) to complete search for bloody raw red meat (Blodhevn/Vendetta), it is hard for me to imagine Valdur is not influenced by Horna and Gorgoroth first three albums. The acoustic cleanup coupled with some native tribal percussion brings up some early Enslaved, but the distorted part follows suit, still taking on the lament quality mourning fallen warriors of the past with its undeniable pang of melodic sadness.

Different in their approach to black metal, Lightning Swords of Death espousing mystical occult qualities and Valdur offering a more time-honored platter, the split possesses high enough quality on either side to be recommended to many a black metal fan.

Killing Songs :
Damnation Pentastrike, Paths to Chaos, Raven God Amongst Us, Spears Torrent
Alex quoted 82(LSoD),78(V) / 100
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