Officium Triste & Ophis - Immersed (Split) (2012)


What do you get when two masters of doom come together for a four song split EP? No, this isn't a joke. There is no punchline. You get "Immersed," the new split from Holland's Officium Triste and German doom band Ophis. While the concept of a split is often clouded, two new songs by each are better than none, a fact on which we can surely agree. There may not be any revelations to be had here, but for the uninitiated, or those who struggle to find new music, this is the perfect showcase of doom styles, distinct and different. Through their respective pairs of songs, both bands give you a taste of what is to come.

The first two tracks, provided by Officium Triste, carry all the wight of their traditional doom style. The heavy guitars and low end focus of "Repent" is the perfect way to start the offering. Underneath it all, synthesizers mimic the sound of a organ, creating an eerie, almost haunting mood. Through alternating quiet and loud portions, they continue to tear down the mix, then build it back up from nothing. In the softer segments, the keys take the lead, while the rolling double kicks and distorted guitars command the heavier sections. The vocals are deathly in tone, with low roars shaking you to your core. The much longer "Bittersweet Memories" takes its time building to a boil, with spoken words helping along the way. Guitar chords linger and fade long after they are struck, disappearing in time for strings to cry out. What stands out here is the way the band fuses traditional doom with a more melodic, progressive version. The use of strings and keys takes their sound to a different level than their contemporaries. By using both styles, both methods, they keep a track that stands at nearly eleven minutes fresh, with a constant shift back and forth.

Unlike their fellow doomsters, Ophis leave out the melodic approaches, and combine their doom with old school death metal, a result that is clear on "Storm Of Shards." The tempo remains true to the traditional doom paradigm at times, but with far more aggressive drumming along the way. Whereas the previous duo of tracks saw and infusion of spoken word or melodic vocal passages, you will find more death metal inspired grunts and roars here, tinged with black metal influences. The pacing increases over the course of the track, erupting several times into a full on thrash. The guitars try to keep pace with the drums, which are lightning fast and deadly accurate in every swing of the stick. The more ominous "The Mirthless" may very well be the only way you could end this offering. There is something in the way the song is written, the way the guitars pummel you without ever really getting too aggressive, that leaves you feeling battered. Machine gun snares only increase that feeling of battery. The addition of cleaner guitars works wonders for the sound, one that syncs up with modern death/doom. And despite a daunting length, one that might scare away those unfamiliar, there is no filler, no space that could have been removed.

For two powerhouse bands with similar fanbases, a split might seem futile and pointless. But somehow, Officium Triste and Ophis make this feel like more of a joint effort than most splits offer, one that may have you thinking each set of two songs really was half of a whole. Both flex their respective muscles and, through the ears of the other, may in fact expand their reach. And while two songs may only be enough to wet your proverbial whistle, it is a great sign of things to come. With new albums on the horizon for both outfits, "Immersed" is the perfect way to get your feet wet.

8/10

Officium Triste
Official Site - http://www.officiumtriste.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/officiumtristeholland

Ophis
Official Site - http://www.ophisdoom.de/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/ophisdoom