Black Altar lineup:
Shadow – Bass/Vocals
Horizon – Guitars
1. BLACK ALTAR – Intro
2. BLACK ALTAR – Tophet
3. BLACK ALTAR – Wings ov Decay
4. BLACK ALTAR – Pentagram Sacrifice (Beastcraft cover)
5. BLACK ALTAR – Outro
6. BLACK ALTAR – Tophet
7. BEASTCRAFT – In the Hour of the Horns
8. BEASTCRAFT – Deathcraft and Necromancy
9. BEASTCRAFT – Blackwinged Messiah
10. BEASTCRAFT – Burnt at His Altar
11. BEASTCRAFT – Resurrection through Desecration and Churchfires
12. BEASTCRAFT – …In Thy Glory
This split between Black Altar (entitled ‘Winds ov Decay’) and Beastcraft (entitled ‘Occult Ceremonial Rites’) is set to be released by Odium Records to celebrate Black Altar’s 21st anniversary. (However, the cover artwork displays XX, which is Roman for 20 and not 21). Although Beastcraft officially ceased to exist in 2013, after Alastor Nefas (Urgehal) was found dead at home, the band has published several releases since. Black Altar hails from Poland but has relocated to the UK, also since. This split release will be made available in three versions: a digipack CD, a gatefold record, and a wood box release limited to 50 copies. The latter contains both a CD and vinyl version and some added rarities. In total, this split contains 12 tracks; each band contributing six hellish creations.
Black Altar’s ‘Winds ov Decay’ starts with a short, but interesting intro followed by the best track of ‘Winds’ called ‘Tophet’. (Hebrew for hell and a place of sacrifice outside Jerusalem). The song seems to set the stage and promises a solid release, though from here things go downhill. ‘Pentagram Sacrifice’, is an exception to the declining standards, but that is a Beastcraft cover. ‘Winds’ ends with a second version of ‘Tophet’, which is neither black metal, nor necessary and contains electro beats and computer drums. I assume this to be a bonus track as it follows the outro.
Beastcraft’s ‘Occult Ceremonial Rites’ opens with a previously unreleased intro entitled ‘In the Hour of the Horns’ and is followed by a collection of previously distributed tracks. Such include one live track, ‘Burnt at his Altar’, and also ‘Deathcraft and Necromancy’, which was released this year on limited edition CD/DVD, through Pulverised Records. The fact that most of these songs have been released several times, show there is very little that I can write about them besides what is already known: They are still the same good hellish black metal tracks – nothing more, nothing less – which I would have given an excellent review to had these been totally new. Since several of these songs have previously only been released on vinyl, these tracks will be interesting for new fans who never got to obtain these publications.
The release leaves me with mixed feelings. Overall, it is disappointment considering the fact that this should mark the 21st celebration of Black Altar. Previous releases by Black Altar are considerably better and I was hoping for a similar feast, but this expectation has not been met. Although Beastcraft’s songs are brilliant, most have been released (several) times, and besides the unreleased intro, add very little of interest for existing fans. This release is mainly a collector’s item for die-hard Black Altar and Beastcraft fans.