Seemingly now-dormant Larval Productions is just a stone's throw down the road from me, but I had no idea about the label until it cranked out that utterly psychedelic bestial brain-blurr from Jyotiá¹£avedÄá¹
ga in 2018. Then I was hooked. I got my hands on everything I could, including this meeting between two of the UK and Dutch black metal underground's more deliberately obscure outfits, issued in a limited run of two hundred. It kills. The fetid glue that seems to pull this split together is that both bands would appear to share a reverence for the low-fi, fucked-up, anti-human aesthetics of Les LÃ©gions Noires scene outta France, and I'm always game for some LLN appreciation. With two songs from each band, The Realm Of Rats And Pestilence spills out of the speakers like a pile of offal and ancient grave dirt.
Sounding freshly unearthed, Adytum is pure raw black metal primitivism, spitting out "Beneath The Ruins" and "Pestilence" in wonderfully harsh and stumbling bursts of lopsided aggression and shrieking hatefulness. I love this band. Simple, back-and-forth punk-style drumming moves at loping tempos while the guitar is throttled into a heap of broken riffs, off-kilter melodies, weird stops and starts - oh man, and it's so bathed in hiss and room ambience that it feels like I'm right there in the crypt (or practice space, or whatever). Borderline "outsider" black metal, played with unabashed degenerate glee, the reverb-cloaked howls spewing visions of death-worship and curses and plagues, everything shifting between that hammering punk-like barbarism and the weirder, off-time chugging riffs and melodies. And then there's that total hard rockin' guitar solo stealing through the night at the end of "Pestilence"? It's legit shit, and hits the same nerve spot for me as do bands like Xeukatre, Vetala, early Black Cilice, and the Legion Blotan at large.
Similarly gonked-out are Darkness Enshrouded The Mist, a Dutch one-man band (I think) that hammers you with a slower, more deliberate strain of black metal, still on the stripped-down and primitive side, with mid-tempo minor-key riffs blended with subtle dissonance, but like their vinyl-mates in Adytum, there are these parts in "A Realm Of Rats" and "Blood & Decay" where the musicality starts to fray at the edges, the riffs coming out slightly awkward, which for me just adds to the clandestine vibe of this stuff. With that first siong, it's nearly as punk-warped as Adytum, rooted in an identifiable early 90's mode; however, that second song makes a hard left into spooksville, "Decay" immediately floating up in a wave of ectoplasmic murk, everything melting at the edges ass this blurry, bleary blackened noise-drone rides out the rest of the EP, barely obscuring the voices of worship that drift beneath the surface - teasing at something almost Moevot-esque as it eases into distant silence...