Mor & Liholesie - Death Comes From The North (Split) (2013)


Rarely do splits have meaning. They are a showcase, as we've noted before, compilations more than concepts. But this particular disc is different. "This is more than just a split. This is real album just splitted for two sides. All music were written and recorded especially for this release. North and Death. MOR submitted single track consisting of 4 parts (20 minutes) in their predictable “progressive” and melodic style. Two cold ambience by Siberian LIHOLESIE at the other side. No rehearsal, unreleased and other lousy shitty records. All recorded in one studio, at the same sound, that all were looked like it was a concept album as in audio part and as in design!" That could be taken as jargon, or musical rhetoric used to sell a few more digital downloads. But after listening to this offering, all two tracks and six individual parts, it seems clear that it speaks truth. They have a symbiotic relationship; they just fit together in that way. And "Death Comes From The North" is an interesting take on a concept split.

Mor's contribution to the split, the nearly twenty minute epic titled "Kola Kross," is an ambitious as it is epic. The melodic overtones play a starring role throughout the track, due, in part, to their layering in the mix. That mix, for better or worse, lacks a true clarity. This leaves some aspects tuned far more clearly than others. The guitar work is deft and, at times, hypnotic, while the vocals vary anywhere from spoken phrases to aggressive yelling. They lack true identity, something that hinders the track from ever gaining momentum. There are distinct parts here, four in total, that all boast very different sounds. The second chunk, carrying the subtitle "Raven Dark," carries with it a post metal tone. But once again, a lackluster vocal performance, this one bordering on garage rock, brings the entire mix down. When the guitars are allowed to breathe (i.e. sans vocal), they are more than enough to carry the load. The screams and growls, particularly around the ten minute mark, are little more than heavy exhales. The marriage of opposites here, with melodic instrumental and grating vocals, just simply doesn't work. That becomes the main theme of all four subsections, and may be a cry for an all instrumental effort.

Liholesie, on the other hand, does not stray from their stated goal. Dark, ambient sounds cascade through your speakers for fourteen minutes, bordering on majesty, and never quite achieving sheer terror. Bizarrely, this sort of subtle ambient music is free flowing and easily enjoyable. It moves quickly, even with minimal inputs. There is something in the way it is pieced together that keeps it interesting from start to finish. The instrumentation is impressive, incorporating a wide variety of tones and sounds into one crystal clear opus. Both parts of this whole could be used for a myriad of purposes, from march to movie score, and everything in between. The second half, aptly dubbed "Endless Expance of Coldness and Ice," is haunting in nature, and brings a cold chill to your body.

The concept is clear, and the two bands are one collaboration away from a masterpiece. But while one is at the top of their game, the other is struggling for identity. Liholesie have a solid grip on the ambient sideshow effect, providing a moving and rich tapestry of minimalist sounds and noise. It may not be a multi-platinum effort in the making, but it makes sense. Mor, on the other hand, have yet to find their voice. That could be taken metaphorically, but it might also be the best literal representation of their contributions to the split. Despite a fairly impressive musical performance, the lack of a strong vocal presence downgrades their sound considerably, often leaving it sounding as if the vocals were tacked on in haste. But outside of these shortcomings, these two acts share a lot in common. And that is why, more than anything, this split works. The similarities and differences are highlighted throughout, strength next to strength, and weakness next to weakness. They are different chapters of the same book.

7/10

Bandcamp - http://myrkrmusikk.bandcamp.com/
Official Site - http://myrkr.org/