Black metal is packed with great examples of splits. From 1993’s Emperor / Enslaved classic, Emperor / Hordanes Land to the Finnish fury of the self-titled Horna / Behexen offering in 2006, or even the one-man-metal explosion that was the Leviathan / Xasthur example in 2004… sharing releases has become something of a black metal tradition. Taking this heritage point even further, we then have this gem from Torresian Call and Welldweller to consider, and it’s poignant call to nostalgia in the form of its tape-only physical release echoing the halcyon days of tape-trading (a phenomenon which black metal is doing its damndest to revive in reaction to the streaming world we live in).
But nostalgia aside – itself a fairly pedestrian selling point all things considered – there’s still a lot going on that has to be considered on this split release. Musically speaking (obviously), the two artists are continuing the fine tradition of solo projects in black metal, but with very different results: Australia’s Torresian Call rip us a new one with raw, dirty black metal that doesn’t so much recall the guiding principles of the second wave as it does unashamedly recreate them. The five untitled tracks making up this submission are relentless in their virulence and while this approach still has merit in black metal circles, I personally find the decision to purposefully ‘dumb down’ the production of music questionable. Especially when so many simple, cheap options are available with which to add a layer of polish to even the most rudimentary bedroom production endeavors. What really does stand out, however, is the vocal performance, replete with histrionics that would make legendary frontmen like Kristian ‘Gaahl’ Espedal expect a royalty check.
Then the flip side (literally, given the cassette format) comes out of nowhere with Welldweller’s single contribution, the ten-minute-plus “Witch.” And while the approach this U.S. musician takes is very different to that of Torresian Call, the end result is no less exhausting. And I mean that as a compliment. The high-end, treble-rich and ever-so-slightly dissonant wall of sound generated here is reminiscent of many notable predecessors, but not ones often mentioned or even celebrated: artists like Troll (the mid-‘90s Norwegian variant) or early Limbonic Art can and should be lauded for their efforts and Welldweller is standing on the shoulders of giants like these.
The full album stream speaks louder and with more clarity than my words ever could.
In this way, the Torresian Call / Welldweller split is an interesting match: two different styles within one divergent genre that introduces two relevant and exciting new voices.
Torresian Call / Welldweller Split Tracklisting:
Side A – Torresian Call
Side B – Welldweller
Run Time: 25:23
Record Label: Eternal Death
Release Date: 12 February 2021