Aylwin & Černá - Split (2013)


The concept of a split might still be foreign to most people; it isn't a new process, but it is far from mainstream. However one may come about - be it by the collected minds of the bands, a label, or just a compilation - there have been some interesting collaborations in the past. But when you see the names of Aylwin and Černá on the same disc, you are getting two of the brightest stars and most talented musicians in the new wave of black metal sub sects. Aylwin, on one hand, stays true to the genre, opting for the rough recording and machine gun drums that have made it a cult favorite for decades. Černá, a one man project that, by our count, has one of the best albums of the year in "Restoring Life," is a example of finesse in the face of brutality, combining the old and new schools of thought. Separately, they are at the top of their respective scenes. Together, you have roughly twenty five minutes of varying and eclectic metal that is sure to be a testament for the future of the genre.

Aylwin's contribution to the split begins with the most subtle of beginnings. Strummed acoustic guitars only last so long before the raw black metal sound pours through your headphones to unsuspecting ears. As harsh as the sound may be, it is also somehow refined, even containing a melody hidden just below the surface. It is organized chaos, with crushing blows coming at every turn. But when the tempo is dialed back, even in short doses, it does wonders for the mood. There is something somber, yet reassuring in the opening to "Always And Forever;" the combination of chords and plucked strings sets the table perfectly for the crying guitar that dominates the latter half. Snares drums snap down in rapid succession, a true black metal tenet. But the soulful guitar solo that launches the final minute is anything but traditional. The minute long interlude, "Pale Watcher," is enchanting in it's own right, a fragile piece of clean guitar work. As it fades, the rumble of distortion returns, with two layers of guitars fighting for space with a massive drum sound on "The Taste Of Lips." Every passage is more intense than the last, bolstered further by the clean vocal presence of Michael Korchonnoff. It seems almost unreal how much his voice impacts the sound, but as the second half comes, it all falls into place. The cleanest of outros, for the most emotional finish.

Needing only one track of his own to be felt, Černá mainman Cody McCoy uses his entire arsenal in his effort. The ease with which he crafts the intro to "Zavis; Lost" is phenomenal, floating through an acoustic piece. But his talents don't end there, as we well know. The crisp mix accentuates all of the flourishes of sound, from the drums to the multiple layers of melodic guitars. The balance between distortion and melody is one that is barely attainable, but rewarding. By using a spoken word portion, this particular one talking about the dangers of addiction, he adds another level of meaning to the track. He uses his creativity to his musical advantage, surrounding himself with more and more depth of sound. The soundscapes created here are incredibly detailed, with seemingly more layers than one could count at any one time. But whether or not you find meaning in the full circle finish is key. The track winds down, returning back to the simple clean guitars for which it came.

If you're out and about, wandering through your favorite record store, and you happen to see a split LP by one of your favorite artists, pick it up. Take a long look at what's there. A b-side? Unreleased? Acoustic? Chances are, it'd be more than worth the money to hear it. Aylwin and Černá are more than capable of putting out discs on their own; Aylwin alone has been a part or the whole of four releases in the last twelve months. But in this format, they can lend each other a helping hand, giving the audiences of one to hear the other. And with the advent of the internet, which occupies most of the word of mouth sect of music sales, that chance is invaluable. They are giving the fans what they want, that being new music, without making them waiting a year, two years, three years for another full length. Four tracks from one, one track from the other, and we have an EP length release that stands up to a lot of the full lengths released this year. And more than anything else, we've had a chance to see the best and brightest of modern blackened metal, toe to toe. Two for the price of one? You can't beat that.

9/10

Aylwin
Bandcamp - http://aylwin.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/aylwinblackmetal

Černá
Bandcamp - http://cernamusic.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/OfficialCernaMusic