Drear is a three piece from the UK that play a pretty draining form of droning, suicidal black metal not too far from the likes of the Pacific Northwest scene (Leviathan, Xasthur, Draugar), crossed with a band like Forgotten Tomb but with much more of a plodding doom tone. With all the expected trappings; stark production, barren musical landscapes flocked with bleak programming, tortured screams and lengthy, rending songs, the Warring Against the Sun side of this split delivers the goods with wrist opening spades. Their 3 tracks on this split, “Let the Sun Collapse” (12 minutes), “Such Contempt for Humanity” (10 minutes), and “Ancient Bridge” (16 minutes), with its powerful horns and Pantheist like chants, are all minimalist exercises in painful and torturously slow black metal drawn out to test your patience, but will no doubt please fans of depressing, well crafted misanthropy.
Hailing from the black metal hotbed that is the Pacific Northwest, Great American Desert is the brainchild of one man, Justin Christner of black metal outfit Vrolok. He delivers a more traditional take on hypnotic doom/ black metal along the likes of his geographic peers as well as Celestiial and frankly Solipsis is no where near as good as any of his peers let alone the Drear side of this split. The music is barren but in an artificial sort of way as opposed to Drear’s caustic sound scapes and the vocals are just plain terrible and sound like a robot in pain. The songs are shorter thankfully and seem content to feature some sort of atmospheric build than plod along at similar paces. “Dervish Shaitan”, “The Still Lake”, “Death Shall Be My Name” and “Shining Like Dusk Over” (again with monkish chants like Drear’s “Ancient Bridge”) don’t command the same sort of truly menacing melancholy that Drear are able to suck from your soul.
I’m real interested to see how Drear does with American fans considering they match up very well to the best the American black metal scene has to offer, but as far as Great American Desert, they need to leave it to Wrest and co to deliver the top notch blackened American despair.
Written by Erik Thomas