In my feeble attempt to catch up on releases I want/was assigned to cover last year I’ve made my way to this split from a pair of New York bands. Released last July this collaboration between Anicon and Belus flew pretty much under the radar. Or mine at least. Which is rather surprising given some of the faces that find themselves within the band’s ranks. Anicon features Nolan Voss (guitar/vocals), Owen Rundquist (vocals/guitar), Alexander DeMaria (bass) and drummer Lev Weinstein (Krallice, Geryon, etc). Belus consists of guitarist/vocalist Matt Mewton (as M.), bassist Jacques Johnson (as J.) and bassist Lesley Wolf of Mortals.
Anicon takes one side with two tracks, “A Crown on Every Head” and “Blood and Stone.” This is some scorching USBM. Rundquist and Voss form a potent tandem whether grounding and pounding or soaring through the clouds, not unlike Krallice. “Crown” finds elevating melodies searching for a place high above the ground. A heartfelt solo bleeds over an almost regal cadence leading to a harrowing rhythm that descends into the thick of battle.
“Blood and Stone” is even better with more prominent bass and a thrash/death styled start. Their windswept nature returns, bringing with it a creepiness and subversive paranoia. Weinstein tirelessly keeps pace with the blazing speed and variety of movements. It feels epic and grand and near the track’s conclusion Rundquist and Voss lock horns and take off with any resolve you may have had left, leaving your face a weepy mess.
Belus counter with two equally devastating tracks. “Amidst Decay” is simply incredible. A slow, foreboding intro builds into a fiery pit of rage and black metal terror. It’s the sort of thing you have to listen to while scowling or it doesn’t make sense. Despite the static-y guitar tone Belus wield incredible might thanks to a thick rhythm section. It’s heavy, full, warm and powerful blackened doom. They move from a slow plod to a scorched earth policy on a dime. All parties impress on this lengthy tome but J is particularly deft at his chosen skill.
“Imprisoned” (that’s what it says on my promo – on bandcamp it’s “Venomous”) brings the gusto with an almost punk beat and a black metal gallop. It’s frantic and evil. As good as M’s fierce rasp is, the instrumental passages rage like a wildfire sparked by an exploding volcano raining fire, all being sucked through a vortex into a tooth-lined black hole. It feels inescapable.
This is an excellent split that really should not have escaped so many ears. No matter who is playing what, both bands are excellent. Non-basement dwelling USBM fans should find nothing to balk at here as Anicon and Belus have crafted well thought-out and executed songs full of power and diversity. Neither band is necessarily breaking new ground but what is obvious is that if and when they decide to put out a full length I’ve no doubt it’ll be fantastic.