Spanish label Memento Mori releases this split album that provides us with the opportunity to test the health of two of the best bands in the European death-doom scene. The first pair of tracks is by Dutch band Officium Triste, exploring the more melodic side of the genre. Since we are dealing with a band formed in the mid-90s, listening to tracks like Repent and Bittersweet Memories, we certainly cannot relegate them to the role of mere epigones, given their musical path, which is almost parallel to that of Saturnus, just to mention a random name. The second of the two tracks, in particular, undoubtedly appears to be the best, thanks to the melancholic and decadent atmospheres that the band led by Pim Blankenstein succeeds in proposing with good taste and great technical skill. It could be argued that nothing has changed since the last full-length, which is now five years old, but in the doom sphere this is not always a defect, on the contrary; it is fair to say, therefore, that the Dutch consolidate their status as a balanced band, reliable and moved by a genuine passion for this musical genre. It is a different story, however, for the younger German band Ophis, who have two excellent albums to their credit, released relatively recently, which show a slow but steady stylistic evolution. Here, the evocative melodies of their companions give way to more massive scores, characterised by granitic riffs and the constant use of rough vocals, with alternating growls and screaming: Storm of Shards sometimes pushes into post-metal territories similarly to what Process Of Guilt did a few months ago, while retaining their death-doom matrix in a more pronounced way than the Portuguese, while The Mirthless presents more canonical but no less claustrophobic slowdowns, without disdaining the inclusion of funereal lead guitar passages. An excellent test, then, only a pity for the different sound of the Ophis tracks compared to those of Officium Triste, an aspect that can be perceived more by being able to make an immediate comparison in the transition from the second to the third track. Drawing conclusions, we are faced with an interesting example of how music of equal value can be produced by tackling a similar genre but with a different approach. All that remains is for the two bands to wait for a new long-distance test in order to receive yet another confirmation of the good impressions provided by this split album.
2012 – Memento Mori 2020 – Archaic Sound
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