"Nil Sine Deo" is the name of this current split-Release, brought forth by Grom Records, a serbian label dedicated to black metal art. The bands involved in this creation are the italian "Ars Macabra", well known amongst the underground audience and "Cosmic Ekpyrosis", seemingly hailing from Greece which only had one previous Demo named "Eliminate the Traces of Reality". The Promo-Release we used for this review came directly from Grom Records. According to our sources the official playtime of this record is about 36 minutes, the promotional version ticks in at about 25 minutes so the times given in the tracklist differ from the original release! Even with the shorter runtime we could get a good idea of the material, not in full length of course.
In matters of sound and production one cannot really argue about the quality, fanatics of crystal-clear Sounds and warm, cheesy Solos wouldn't mind this release anyways. In spite of this the production is absolutely NOT like someone put one microphone into the bands' rehearsal room and pushed the record button, it just has this "mucky tone" amongst the guitars and overall mastering.
Ars Macabra are presenting Black Metal with a slight old-schoolish touch, their proverbial "unholy grail" is set upon the grimness spreaded through all of their songs on this release. Every vocal appeareance is presented in cawing (or rattling) fashion and corase like sand paper. The hellish six-stringers are extremely distorted except for a few clean passages accentuated with the well known chorus-effects (audible near the end of "Manifestation of the Curse" for example). As expected by the disciples of darker Metal there is a lot of aggressive flailing in the drum-section, the toms have been highlighted either during the recordings or in the aftertouch. Yet the afformentioned don't play a too major role in the overall sound; cymbals, bass- and snare-drum on the whole tend to dominate, presented through blast beats and often used short drumrolls. There is no reason to depreciate this band, even if some voices are calling the word "mediocre" all the time (look up some of the reviews on the internet). Overall, it seems the band feels bound to their style as they are pursuing it for a long time now.
The last three works on this split-release are presented by the already mentioned "Cosmic Ekpyrosis". Nothing much is known about the members of this formation, there are hints that they originate from Athens and London. For some information there are a Myspace and Facebook page, nothing more. Now to the audial impression. In a way the guitars are of course very aggressive but with some limitations. Overall they aren't too "sawing" yet presented with - only a bit - more "tone". Main thing still should be the music, so now to that aspect. With the exception of the introduction the songs tend to be rather dark with a notable emphasis on deeper middle frequencies. Tempo-wise the band decided to include a good deal of transitions from languid to faster playing speeds ("Cosmic Ekpyrosis" - the song and "Eliminate the Traces of Reality" for example). The guitars seem aggressive but modest at the same time, presented in less sharp manner, on the other side enriched with just a pinch more "tone". The vocals have a clear tendency to Death Metal Vox, not entirely growled but not completely screamed as well. All of "Cosmic Ekpyrosis" songs have been written satisfactory, no big surprises but rather classical stylistic devices have been worked into their musical art; the vocal point being variable riffing (centered on power-chords and then changing to a melody which moves into the background again later on). Last but not least the drums: they sound pretty clean and even and don't seem "virtual" or "triggered". Some nice touches have been implemented with small triplets on the bass-drum, usual and commonly used blast beats, short pauses and the occasional drum roll.
01 Ars Macabra – Manifestation of the Curse (03:44)
02 Ars Macabra - L.U.X. (03:46)
03 Ars Macabra - Breed of Cain (03:41)
04 Cosmic Ekpyrosis - Intro (01:00)
05 Cosmic Ekpyrosis - Cosmic Ekpyrosis (03:55)
06 Cosmic Ekpyrosis - Eliminate the Traces of Reality (04:10)
07 Cosmic Ekpyrosis - The Devilish Angel (03:38)
Personally I've enjoey the "Ars Macabra"-part more. Why? It seems to be more varied, the guitars sound a good deal sharp. In my opinion "Manifestation of the Curse" (Ars Macabra) and "The Devilish Angel" (Cosmic Ekpyrosis) constitute the "highlights" of this record. Of course, the own impression is determinant towards the material.