This split delivers a bit over twenty minutes of black metal from both the German Prosatanos and the Dutch Smoke. The CD with minimalistic but stylish black-and-white design was released as a pressing of 1000 pieces by the German label Total Death Records. Sadly no lyrics are included.
Prosatanos has been active since 1997, and have made a bunch of split-albums and demos since. This split is their currently newest piece of work, and the first one I've come to hear from them. The music is straight-forward blasting black metal with fast tempos, harsh oldschool soundscape, and harsh and heavily echoed shouts as vocals. The songs keep speeding onwards with their simplistic riffs and retro-thrash-instrumentation (think of the early days of black/thrash) for their time, and although they can certainly boast with their velocity, harshness and chaotic aspects, in the end they leave very little to the listener's mind when they're over.
Prosatanos states that their side of the split was recorded in a few hours at their rehearsal place, and it shows both in good and bad. The songs are authentic and raw, but on the other hand their dusty soundscape lacks dynamics - and the heavily echoed but eventually thin vocals, simply blasting drums and inaudibly pounding bass lines don't help this at all. The vocals being so over-the-top also makes them heavy to listen to; after a few minutes, your ears get worn out to their sound, and thus they lose their effect.
I'm certain that Prosatanos has a lot of eager listeners due to their reckless and extreme playing, but as for me, their music just wore me out and lost its charm. There are a few tasty moments here and there when the vocals are absent and the riffs are at their strongest, but other than that I can only say that the band can do better.
If you're familiar with our site, there's a high chance you've ran into Smoke as well (and if you haven't, click here) since I've reviewed all their tapes released prior to their split . The band plays improvised black metal, and unlike their previous releases that were recorded at their rehearsal place, this one features Smoke's first studio-session. The band has already released a tape after this split, but I haven't yet heard it.
Other than the more professional soundscape, Smoke sounds still just like they used to: messy and chaotic black metal with a guitar, drums, and rather echoed low howls. The change in the soundscape isn't that massive, either; the drums are slightly damp but very organic, and the guitars are slightly crackling and very distorted, a fact hidden by their also slightly muffled sound. The vocals range from low growls in the distance to loud howls wandering over the instruments - and unlike with Prosatanos, are capable of creating a lot of variation and dynamics to the songs.
Initially I was ready to label this split as Smoke's highlight recording, and in some sense it is exactly that; it brings out their core expression in its purest and most honest form, and displays their both fastest and slowest styles. The studio-soundscape makes the slowest moments seem very bare, though, and when there's a most simple riff or an unintentional discord being played, the soundscape brings it out in a way that disturbs the songs' feel. These moments are not that many, but they still make my nerves crackle.
If you liked Smoke before, you'll like this recording as well - and if you don't know the band yet, this is a good place to start. I've been wishing for Smoke to do something new, and a studio-recording with a this suitable soundscape is certainly just that; a fresh change to their concept. It just seems that, at least for now, the rehearsal-style recordings suit their improvised and experimental style better than a studio-one. Even the slightest sloppily played note gets highlighted in these songs, and there's not enough of organic qualities nor extra noises to make up for them.
If you like your black metal fast and messy, pick this up. It's doesn't showcase the best moments from either of the bands but is still good for an occasional listen, and should provide something new and pleasing to those who've already memorised everything from Deiphago.