A Review of the 'Aarni/Umbra Nihil Split' by Loek of Vampire Magazine

Despite me being a pretty enthusiastic doom addict, I only knew these two bands by name. I read some reviews on the site of our collegues, doom-metal.com, and was therefore eagerly awaiting this split.
And if this proves one thing, then that is that Finland is the country for depressive music! My god, I haven't heard this much misery captured in music since I (finally!) ran into Skepticism's rerelease of 'Stormcrowfleet'.

First band on this split album is Aarni, and reviewing this is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do for Vampire.
After listening over and over again, I'd came up with a list of terms. Out of those terms it seemed, it was impossible to write a review.
This brave lad however tried (and failed miserably).
Aarni's part of the split CD starts with some droning sounds, combined with some sort of guitar effects, sounding as unmelodic as something can possibly sound. Yet, when hearing this in total darkness, combined with the right mood, things did seem to make sense.
Nevertheless, it grabs you to never let go!
A USI (unidentified sounding instrument) welcomes the listener to a world where everything is not certain, where every note played calls up more questions then it answers. Is this doom? Well, considering the speed of the songs, yes. But is speed the only criteria? Because I don't think so. Next question would then be; is this metal, or even music? Well, since they make use of heavy instruments, and people singing; 'yes' to both questions. But, these vocals, are they human? Because I'm really not sure of it! Seems to me more of some pre-human attempts to communicate, the fearsome creatures Lovecraft describes in his story 'The nameless city of the accused'
'Reaching Azathoth' is a bad trip, turned to music. Nauseating, horrifying sounds, that bring the listener to some sort of higher conscience, slowly, yet unavoidable, your soul drifts towards the sixth of the 7 gates, where boundless daemon sultan Azathoth already awaits thee, to make you suffer for all eternity.
In all it's seemingly childish approach, this music is pure evil. Some say Thergothon is Lovecraft put to music. I then hereby state that Aarni is pure horror, turned to funeral doom.
Although the description funeral doom doesn't do any justice to Aarni, since they go beyond any musical boundaries, concerning genre, heaviness, lyrics, vocals, influences (For instance, British sitcom 'The young ones' as Black Sabbath as Edgar allen Poe, as Peter Jackson as Shape of Despair as Lucasarts. Damn! This dude could have been me..)
This is the most intriguing music I've heard for a long, long time. However, this is music for the few.
Since this is more 'minute per beat', instead of 'beat per minute' music, most common metalfans better let this go by, and even doomfans shall, after a superficial listening, label this utter crap, I'm afraid.
I am in doubt here, because I want to recommend this to the entire world, however, that is absolutely of no use. But then again, I don't know to whom I should do so. The open minded? Doom-metal fans? Lovecraft addicts? To all the fans of 'The Young ones', or Star Wars maybe?!?
I just end my story here, since nothing but pure garbage comes from my mind now.
Get this...or not...think for yourself...I dunno...

Second band is Umbra Nihil, and even though they don't sound as unconventional as Aarni, I still have a hard time describing their unique sound.
Try to picture yourself a musical mix of misery, with elements of the raw, pre MDB 'As the flower withers' sound, the cold industrial feeling of the Dolorian's selftitled second album, and the majestic feeling and sheer heaviness of the before mentioned Skepticism. Last song, 'Water in your lungs' could have been a duet between Esoteric and Aarni; weird, sick, twisted and brutal!
Vocal wise there are resemblances with the older MDB work as well, the grunt used is filthy, tortured and perfectly integrated into the overall sound; sometimes it takes a big role in the songs, and sometimes it's hidden in the back, between the other instruments.
My favourite track of the Umbra Nihil part of the split is the first, 'Follow and believe/Fall without relief' where you get a good view on their multi-layered sound; first the 'basic' instruments, then an overall sad atmosphere is added with the implementation of the keyboard, and the song is finished with the grunts. Amazing.
Maybe not as unique as Aarni, but with this single release they've made it into my list of favourite doombands of all-time! Recommending this is -thank god- not as difficult as it was with Aarni, fans of the bands mentioned in the review shouldn't hesitate for one single moment, and BUY!

Both bands recently got signed on Firebox, and you, doom fans should throw yourself a little party, because that means that this split album is quite easy to lay your hands on, and that doom finally seems to crawl out of the forgotten realms in the music business.