HaatE / Chiral – Where The Mountains Pierce The Nightsky

(Sixsixsix Music, 2014)

This split release by two Italian bands features some of the most genuinely nineties-sounding Atmospheric Blackened music I’ve heard ages.

The first three songs by HaatE are strange ones, featuring some ambient nature sounds (of the forest) but mostly very nineties-sounding “Dark Ambient” music. As a person who was witnessing (and into) the first synth-releases of the early- and mid-nineties coming to the Black Metal underground (in part because of the great label Cold Meat Industry, in part because of the long-nosed troll Mortiis who used play bass for Emperor), I’m getting highly nostalgic feelings from this music.

Before the age of programmed software synths, there were actual keyboards with different sounds to choose from, and in many cases those were the ones synth-artists used to create whole albums, or at least intros and outros and whatnot to Black and Death Metal albums. The music of HaatE has exactly this feeling to it, with the sounds and natural flow of playing sounding straight from the nineties. In this case these songs sound like a multifaceted 30-minute-long intro to a Black Metal album.

The strange part is the adding of Black Metallic soundscapes to the background of the synth-music. Without knowing how these sounds are produced exactly, it however sounds like there is another song with guitars and drums etc. running beneath the main (more audial) layers of the song. Some Blackened vocals are also hear at parts. It’s not often you hear stuff like this! All this weirdness aside, the melodies of the songs are very well composed and played. Sometimes going a bit “medieval”, sometimes Tangerine Dreamlike, all the melodies fit the concept of the album very well.

The fourth and last (20 minute) song by Chiral features synth-sounds and melodies quite similar to the first three songs, although this time the Black Metal part of the music is much more present in the mix. This song sounds also very much like the nineties, from vocals to the guitar- and drum-sounds. Perhaps the guitar-melodies have a bit more progressive feel to them, which should appeal to fans of older Katatonia and Opeth etc. The song shifts from blast-beats to slower beautiful melancholic parts (and back again) naturally, making the long song pass by quite fast. Nicely constructed and arranged definitely.

I’m very glad I got to hear this release, painting melancholic and longing atmospheres of the misty woodlands to my mind’s eye, since it really features the most nostalgic nineties sounding synth- and keyboard-music (not to forget the Metal-parts) I’ve heard in a very long time. A total must for everyone finding more atmosphere in the sounds of this “golden age of Black Metal” than in the modern (more boring?) sounds! They just don’t do stuff like this anymore.

8/10 – Antti Mikonmäki

HaatE (Facebook)

Chiral (Facebook)

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