Year of release: 2019
Released by: Aeon of Horus
Rating: 7 / 10
People been talking about BONEHAMMER / GOATHORNED split for a while, but few, except for the direct participants, knew in what form it would come out. In the end, the split was released in classic format, which - if you have funds - usually comes as 7"EP. But since it’s almost impossible to work with vinyl in Belarus, the split came out on cassettes - without preliminary announcements, so many people still don’t know about it.
“Eastern Graves” contains two new tracks from each band. BONEHAMMER, as follows from the press release, recorded them in the old lineup, presenting the “dark” side of the split. Visitors of the lastest BONEHAMMER gigs probably noticed that BONEHAMMER music is gradually evolving from primitive goat metal to something more inventive. Songs from split, as I understand it, reflect a transitional stage. They can’t be called complex, they catch your ear immediately, but the dynamics have increased significantly compared to tracks from “Through Blood”. However, the impressions remain mixed. In some places, songs subtly remind me the project PINEBLOODwhere someone from BONEHAMMER participates. And in this case it is bad. Further movement in this direction can lead to the fact that the songs can become melodic, and BONEHAMMER will go too far from its original essence. The main riff from "Fiery Mirror" is particularly worrying. There is a feeling that they didn’t even think about it, just played the first motive that came to mind. The manner of performance masks the rawness of the idea to some extent, but not completely. Summing up, I’ll say that it will be possible to fully comprehend BONEHAMMER material from this split only with the release of a new album. Then it will become clear what these songs are - a jumper on the way to something bigger or an alarming bell. And yet there are no questions about the sound and performance quality. The sound is much more powerful than on “Through Blood”, and the vocals, as usual, are monstrous.
With GOATHORNED, representing the "furious" side of the split, everything is much simpler, although there are changes too. Whereas on “G.G.G.” the music was a solid hellstorm of evil vengeance, now it does not shy away from slow fragments, which makes it similar to ARCHGOAT. A cover of Finns (performed in Belarusian language!) quite convincingly confirms my observations. The vocals became more malicious, which also gives GOATHORNED some advantage. The problem with sound was also resolved: on the first release it was too deaf, and now it's just right. There is nothing more to notice, except perhaps an excellent performance. The material was made by almost full line-up, with the involvement of the session participants (for example, Plague666 from PESTILENTIA was responsible for the drums), and it feels like all the participants really invested something in the process, not just played / sang their parts. Of course, GOATHORNED loses outright to BONEHAMMER in terms of originality, but I probably like their side a bit more - everything is so in place here. Both song texts of GOATHORNED are in Belarusian, and if the trend continues, this will be enough for the band to occupy its niche on our scene. There are shit tons of English-speaking representatives of “Bestial Black Metal” (hate this definition, but there is no better one), but there will be one and only GOATHORNED if they decide to continue using Belarusian language.
The lyrical part of the split is consistent with the press release. It's really a lyrics, with more or less good rhymes. If BONEHAMMER's songs are a bit blurry, without direct appeals to Satan, then GOATHORNED do everything very straightforward - nuns, cunts and darkness! It's great that the label took care to print the lyrics in the insert, as well as provide fairly detailed information about the recording. As you can find out from the same insert, both sides of the split were recorded at Niemaracz Clan's "Pit" as well as partially at Studio 9, and therefore “Eastern Graves” has a rare sound wholeness. By a good tradition, the release is packaged in a slipcase. More details on a video.