The theatrics caked into black metal’s history are often leaned on as a shorthand for the emotional onslaught the genre’s musicality conveys. Emphasizing theatrics over solid fundamentals, however, can shroud black metal’s endearing traits. Bands who adhere to a stricter sect of the form can be trapped in the self-immolating aesthetic as opposed to maximizing the genre's chaotic fundamentals of tremolo-picked serrated guitars and pummeling drums. So it’s worth recognizing an intercontinental split release by two solo acts that highlight the native qualities of the style. World Within Spirit delights by refusing to mince words; Awicha and Galpedar arrive, scorch earth for a searing half an hour, then depart.

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Awicha commands respect by vividly applying the hallmarks of black metal. Aesthetically, the one man Bangkok band, an offshoot of Thai metal outfit Dei Tetra, is a genre fanatic with more than a decade’s worth of solo releases. Satanic lyrics, misanthropy, and corpse paint are all present, but the appeal of World Within Spirit is how Awicha applies the foundations of black metal into a palettable, furious package. Awicha explores multiple rhythms, tempos, and melodies through acrobatic passages in four tightly stuffed outbursts of carnivorous ferocity. His half of World Within Spirit boasts fuller production than one would expect from a solo act who rarely records outside their own home. While his aesthetic hails from an adoration of the macabre imagery rather than adherence to black metal’s infamous secularity - a healthier way to live in all honesty - his decade of experience shines through his fluent songwriting.

That songwriting steers towards execution rather than atmosphere. Each track houses subtle instrumental diversity, like the compact guitar solo and gurgling bass on “Impaling the Flesh of God” and the murky swaths of sustained guitar notes and machine gun drumming rumbling throughout “I Deny Your God!”, to carve a distinct place on the release. On “Cleanse Your Sins With Blood,” varying drum tempos accent the riffs and harmonies, steering clear of full intensity. It’s not until halfway through the track that blast beats vomit forth, propeling “Cleanse Your Sins With Blood” to its thrashing conclusion. World Within Spirit maintains a steady bloodlust in the form of sonic details rather than overt digressions. Awicha never reuses components in the same way twice - a benefit of the split format that gives each track a marked identity. He maximizes the curt runtime to meld a solid patchwork of genre sensibilities. Awicha’s half is acrobatic and dynamic, emphasizing fluid songwriting for shackleless, hassle-free, crushing black metal.

The three tracks Italian project Galpedar supplies establish longer passages more akin to the 1990s wave of Norwegian black metal. The cavernous shrieking vocals hibernate at the back of the mix and ring closer to demonic evocations than Awicha’s hallowed snarls, and Galpedar induces hypnosis with a plodding, weighty pace. While Awicha favours sharper tones, Galpedar summons the phantoms of black metal’s past for a more muscular sound, found in the meaty bass triplets on “Eridan Hordes” and the mighty power chords of “Ablaze My Soul.” Sadly, “Thou Kingdom Shall Die” is inconsequential compared to the rest of Galpedar’s tracks. Thin mixing and a limited runtime paint it as lacking and unfinished, sounding too compact compared to the density of the rest of the half.

Awicha and Galpedar’s split is a concise showcase of the splendor of the genre; Awicha’s dynamic songwriting impresses by itself, and Galpedar is no slouch in regards to his turbulence. The context of World Within Spirit being recorded and co-ordinated from opposite ends of the world heralds an optimism necessary in the global situation. When the world lurches towards a reality more dreadful than the phantoms adorning the World Within Spirit cover, what better way to reassert the vitality of the human soul than slamming out Satanic heresy with someone on the other side of the planet? There’s levity in a project this satisfying flourishing under a tumultuous state of living more harrowing than any corpse-painted bassist could conjure.

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World Within Spirit released January 20th, 2021 via Vintage Cult Records .


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