SUN OF THE SLEEPLESS / NACHTMAHR - I (LUPUS LOUNGE - CD 2004)
I think this actually is one of my favourite black metal split releases that I've ever heard and one, which without a doubt I can recommend to every maniac of cold black metal. I got to know it first when someone recommended it to me years ago and since I really liked Sun of the Sleepless' debut MLP "Poems to the Wretches' Hearts" I decided to give it a try and quickly purchased it. And it was definitely worth searching for this CD and spending some money on it, trust me. If you're into the classic Norsk Black Metal, then this is something for you. Of course neither Sun of the Sleepless or Nachtmahr are Norwegian, both are German bands actually, but their music is so deeply rooted within the classic Norwegian black metal sound that it could be misleading.
Sun of the Sleepless are a great band - or I should say project, as it's just one guy, Ulf Theodor Schwadorf, doing everything. As I already said, I really liked his debut recording, which was released in 1999 and so I was just damn curious whether he's going to be able to reach the same quality and atmosphere here on "I". And well, he did. His part of the split contains six tracks, with two - "Tausend kalte Winter" and "Spring '99" taken from "Tausend kalte Winter" EP 1999. The opening track "A Wolf in Sheep's Skin Clad" isn't maybe so thrilling, although it does bring the cold black metal sounds akin to Darkthrone, Troll's debut EP or Ulver with pretty fast tempo throughout and some cool, sort of distorted vocals. But the best is yet to come and "Romanze zur Nacht", the following song, is exactly what I would expect from this band. Melancholic, sorrowful, melodic and emotional, but still damn dark and black metal - this is amazing song, which takes the credit from Ulver, Katatonia and Burzum and is my favourite part of the split (I really like the German written lyrics, they do fit the black metal style of singing perfectly). Burzum's "Dunkelheit" cover is just awesome, played perfectly, with every detail of the original version, including this killer atmosphere. Really well performed, although it may be somehow annoying to some of you to hear a cover, which sounds almost exactly the same as the original and it would probably be fuckin hard to distinguish both versions from each other.
With track number four ("Neunter November") Sun of the Sleepless changes the style and the atmosphere quite drastically. The traditional Norwegian black metal is putted aside and more experimental music comes in, "Neunter November" being some sort of ambiental song, with some electronic beats, repetitive spoken words, church bells, etc... Well, it is different, but man, I do like it a lot! Meanwhile "Tausend Kalte Winter" is Darkthrone's cover (of "En As I Dype Skogen" from "Transilvanian Hunger") and man, if Burzum cover was almost a carbon copy, this one is very hard to recognize actually, so different it is from the original. The raw black metal of the original is replaced by electronic effects (beginning with almost a triphop beats), ambiental passages and some raw guitar playing in very few parts, with some extremely distorted vocals. It sounds weird (I have Thorns and some experiments from Satyricon in my mind, when listening to it), but the final effect is great; cold atmosphere of it is freezing and possessing and surely this is extremely interesting interpretation of Darkthrone's music. The final track, "Spring '99", begins with unexpected calm, post rock playing, reminding me Katatonia with this depressing mood and remains as such almost all the way through, with only few noisy black metal riffs and distorted vocals thrown within few parts. Really, the song develops in very interesting and impressive way.
After such diverse and sort of experimental part of Sun of the Sleepless, Nachmahr's part of the split is almost boring, as it basically concentrates only on the classic black metal formulas. Luckily this two men project from Bavaria was also able to create and develop a dark, sinister atmosphere and putted out some solid songs. This project also features Ulf Theodor Schwadorf plus Thomas Helm of Empyrium fame and so this isn't a coincidence that those two knew what they're doing and how to play this kind of music. These three tracks (titled "I", "II" and "III") are way more conventional, focusing mainly on the classic riffing, like in "I", which is close to "Transilvanian Hunger” kind of track, with monotonously fast and almost primitive riffing. "II" begins with some calm acoustics and then develops first into Katatonia influenced depressive black / doom to speed up the pace finally into traditional Darkthrone'ish black metal and then mixing all these influences in one pot. I like those cold melodies they play here, these shriek vocals and even this simple drumming. "III" pretty much follows the same path, again with some hints of bands like Katatonia, but also Dornenreich... And well, I can say I do like this part of the split also and so in the end it results in - as I said in the beginning - one of the best split releases ever, with really exciting and interesting music and two killer bands, of which Sun of the Sleepless is extremely recommended. Get it asap, really!
Final rate: 90 / 100