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If you're going to write black metal, you'd better reach for the stars -- atmosphere should have no ceiling, no roof, and no upper limit. This is the exact definition of "extreme," a category which can encapsulate all of heavy metal from an outside context; from the inside, though, the word reserves itself for music that ascends to higher planes than most. It's not necessarily about making maximum noise, but achieving maximum effect with any given noise. Newly formed black metal entity Vuur & Zijde can do just that: create a headspace so explorably vast that the result can be a bewildering array of sensations, colors, and moods. What makes this band special, though, is that they do this without the typical in-your-face assault that most black metal brings. In fact, the project's debut (as half of a split with the equally enchanting Impavida) showcases an effortless array of black metal talent that feels blossoming rather than explosive. Get a taste with an exclusive stream of the split's opening song "Zonnestorm" below.

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Featuring members of Laster, Nusquama, and Terzij de Horde, this project's pedigree should speak for itself. It was never a question, at least to me, whether Vuur & Zijde's entry into this split would be quality; rather, I wondered how the varying influences would coalesce into something befitting of Impavida's accompaniment. What we get are three sensationally moving black metal epics that melt in your ears and don't overstay their welcome. Clean vocals add significant character to "Zonnestorm," for example, offsetting the blistering dirge of the music's somber yet succulent flavor. But, and as with all great black metal, it's the atmosphere that makes the difference, and here, Vuur & Zijde brand a style all their own.

It's downright soothing to absorb -- this doesn't attack the mind at all -- but offers such eloquence when mentally picked apart. Consider me sold.

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Vuur & Zijde / Impavida releases April 24th via Prophecy Productions. A message from Vuur & Zijde:

The body will not be moved, but the heart can not resist the tug and pull.

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