Two one-man projects, each striving to reach some nadir of trashcanned nihilism and bargain-basement ambient doom sensibility — break out the party hats and fill the candy bowl with Xanax! NORTT cough up a couple tracks of one-finger piano lines, guitar that would be apocalyptic if it was recorded worth a shit, and trudging funereal drumbeats, topped with hoarse old-man croaking. It's atmospheric, I guess, in that boombox-in-the-forest way, which is to say that about nineteen people on the entire planet will be anything but annoyed by it. NORTT does get credit for either corpse-painting his entire chest in the booklet photo, or being pale even by Scandinavian standards.
Malefic, the sole artisan behind XASTHUR, looks more like a pouting member of IMMORTAL sentenced to a "time out" by an angry mother, but his music is a little more interesting and immersive. The ten-minute-plus "Blood From the Roots of the Forest" is a depressive take on ultra-primitive early 90's BM with a gloomy ambience that is haunting and bleak, with the barest hints of despondent melody. The closest "big" band to compare them to might be old ENSLAVED; their droning doom dirges latching onto that same permafrost and speaking of dead civilizations long encased in the ice. The hell of it is, XASTHUR is supposedly from the USA, the last place you'd expect to give birth to something this grim and mysterious.
Let pasty shut-ins on message boards debate the semantics – is it "funeral doom," "black doom," "creepy old wizard doom"? Who gives a shit? For most of the world's population, this is one big pile of unlistenable, ashen grave dirt. For the few who can hack it, though, this split contains moments of occasional brilliance, mainly on XASTHUR's side of the crypt. Fog-choked depression drenched in a zombified torpor and cloaked in petulant pretension, destined to become essential to a grimacing few.