If you think just because it’s the end of the year and you’re already swimming in year end lists that there aren’t still records coming out that are really worth investing your time into then you’re just fucking naive. 2020 has been one of the strongest years for exceptional extreme metal in recent memory and I’m here to show you another release that’s near the top of the heap when it comes to shit you need to hear as this fucking fecal tornado of a year winds down; the highly anticipated split between obscure American black mist Valac and Australia’s insanely prolific Kommodus.
Valac has been busy working churning out jet black metal the better part of the last few years that sits comfortably stylistically with similar bands steeped in mystique like Lamp of Murmuur and Dai Ichi, but as “Hollow Cries of Mercy” will show you, Valac has absolutely sharpened their sound. While I’ve enjoyed their previous work the tracks on this split are a massive step up from their earlier material. The riffs no longer seem murky behind a miasma of reverb, instead come at you with maturity and a malignant air. This split takes Valac out of the realm of black metal curiosity into a fucking dark force and I’m very excited to hear where this journey takes the project, which has several more releases in the pipeline.
It wasn’t enough for Kommodus to release what was, for my money, the best album of 2020 (the self titled “Kommodus”) but this prolific monster continues to give birth to twisted creations over and over, each time striking a little bit harder and becoming a little bit more deadly. As anyone who’s had the misfortune to talk to me about music this year knows I’m fairly obsessed with this project, as is a huge chunk of the underground. Think Integrity meets Leviathan with a generous pour of Bestial Warlust and you have an idea of the madness of Kommodus but I can honestly say nothing else out there sounds like this project. “Pyrrhic Victory” is another one in the chamber that wastes not a single second and is indicative of the genius of the overall Kommodus arsenal. Hail Kommodus.
This crucial split will be released and distributed through Appalachian Noise Records, home of Valac’s Leaning Towards Bitter Misery LP. The cassette will be available at noon on (appropriately) Black Friday while the vinyl version has been delayed as COVID-19 continues to be the gift that keeps on giving, but the record should follow sometime winter 2021.