NUCLEAR CHRIST/VRYKOLAKAS: Twisted Idols For Nihilism/The Anatomy Of The Ungodly
Release year: 2022
Label: Vrykoblast Productions
I’ve always had a thing for split albums. When done right – such as both bands contributing a mini-album worth of tracks or reprinting long out-of-print EP’s or such – they offer a lot of bang for the buck. It’s a bit beside the point, but what the heck, it’s my site so I’ll do as I please: some of my all-time favourite splits are the old Satyricon/Enslaved CD, putting together a demo by each band, and the bootleg Morbid/Mayhem split CD, which features Morbid’s December Moon demo, an essential piece of early Scandinavian extreme metal.
But I digress. Let’s get back to this little split.
As far as I can discern, on offer on this split is US death metal act Nuclear Christ’s 2022 demo/tape EP Twisted Idols For Nihilism and four brand new tracks by Singaporean Vrykolakas (whose previous album we reviewed some time ago). Aye, a veritable death metal storm lies ahead…
Starting alphabetically, let’s tackle Nuclear Christ first. Theirs is an old school approach with hints of rotten thrash metal. With boneheaded fervour they attack their material, offering little in terms of technical finesse or subtlety, instead opting for rough-hewn riffage, forcefully pounding drums and gruff vocals.
Nuclear Christ are basically death metal rewound 30+ years and delving deep into the obscure murk to be found beyond the few bigger names of the then-nascent genre. The solos wail with reckless abandon, much like Slayer on steroids, and sometimes it feels a bit like either the drummer or the guitarist is going a bit too fast and things are almost but not quite out of sync.
The sound is a bit unbalanced, with the guitars being too silent in the mix. And, to be honest, Nuclear Christ aren’t the tightest or the most pro sounding bunch around. But there’s that undeniable drive and passion of raw old school death metal, which makes it easy to forgive many shortcomings.
Nuclear Christ may not be poised to take on the big names quite yet, but their brutally venomous death metal barbarism certainly has plenty of appeal.
Where Nuclear Christ have just one release under their belt, Vrykolakas have several albums and almost 30 of experience to their name. The band started out already way back in 1991, but were on hiatus between ’93 and ’99. Since their reformation, they’ve released three full-length albums, along with an assortment of smaller releases. No greenhorns, then.
With considerably more powerful sound and tighter playing than their split-partners, it’s obvious that Vrykolakas have seniority. This sounds tight and way more focused. If you want to find a downside to this, Vrykolakas also sound less barbaric than Nuclear Christ.
Like Nuclear Christ, Vrykolakas also draw their inspiration from the old school. With plenty of mid-tempo sections full of rolling rhythms, the Singaporeans material on this split reminds me even a bit of Bolt Thrower on more than one occasion. The gruff, hoarse vocals remind me a bit of Beelzebubth of the mighty Mystifier – a somewhat perplexing assocation, I admit. But there it is.
With the self-confidence and precision of veterans, Vrykolakas thunder through their part without fumbling. As I remarked in my review of the album And Vrykolakas Bring Chaos And Destruction (linked earlier), originality is not Vrykolakas’ strong suit, but so what. This is thoroughly enjoyable stuff.
The pairing on this split works. Old school death metal is the name of the game for both, but Nuclear Christ and Vrykolakas have sufficiently differing styles to keep things interesting. Both have about similar bodies of material, duration-wise, and though Vrykolakas’ sound is noticeably beefier, the gap in production values isn’t too striking.
Chances are, considering both are pretty underground names, that you won’t be familiar with one or either of these names. If that’s the case, then this split release is definitely good value for money for ya: you get to hear not one, but two good death metal bands.
I mean, I’d buy that for a dollar!
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