Distracting cover art notwithstanding, this split offers a potent blend of first and second wave black metal swimming in high gain. Eschewing modern fetishes for tinkering dissonance, both bands largely adhere to traditional black metal harmonies, with Anal Blasphemy coming out slightly ahead in the songwriting sweepstakes. Their three songs are a mix of the crusty soup from which black metal emerged in the early 80s, and the spurt in ambition witnessed towards the turn of the decade. Minimalist in orientation, Anal Blasphemy use repetition as bootstrap, evolving in concentric motion to create songs that feel greater than their individual parts. Confident in switching between tempos and technique without seeming frivolous, this is a glimpse of black metal done well at this late date.
Switzerland’s Forbidden Eye are the more steeped in recognizable Scandinavian convention, opting for a two-pronged strategy alternating between a steady trot and a blast, with somewhat curtailed riffs obeying a strict question-response pattern. Majestic melodies, accessible though not in a bad way, greet the listener after the abrasive vibe gathered from the Anal Blasphemy fare. On the surface, this is a note-perfect approximation of recognizable Scandinavian black metal from the 90s, but Forbidden Eye are yet to grow into treating riffs as suggestive devices only, and not writs in stone that have to be compulsorily reiterated over the course of a song. Those embarking on journeys don’t always have the good fortune of revisiting places and moments past, and Forbidden Eye only stand to realize their potential in the fullest if they take this thought to heart.