Rance – Rance31st January 2017
High Spirits – Motivator2nd February 2017
Label: Ksenza / Release Date: 17th March 2016
Call of Ashes II / Stone and Sea is, as the name implies, a Split album between the Black Metal band Sleepwalker (The Call of Ashes II part), a band that I have had a very hard time digging up any information about (although they might be American) and British Fen (the Stone and Sea part). Overall these two bands compliment eachother quie nicely on this split, having made the arrangement of first having three tracks by Sleepwalker, and then proceeding with three tracks from Fen. This is, in my opinion, a wise way to go about the album since, albeit Fen is the more Atmospherical of the two, Sleepwalkers music (on this release at least) is still slower, more dramatic and with a heavier emphasis upon instruments than vocals and lyrics as a whole. This means that Sleepwalker functions as a warm-up of sorts in order to try and draw parallels to a live performance, yet still manages to keep themselves from being outshined. Make no mistake; At no point during my several revisions of Call of Ashes II / Stone and Sea did I get the feeling that one half was better than the other – And that is despite going into the experience somewhat biased (I was already a fan of Fen prior to receiving this release, while I had never even heard of Sleepwalker beforehand). For me, Sleepwalker does an excellent job at setting the mood and overall atmosphere of the album, while still retaining their own sound and presence, even as they build up to hand over the scene to Fen. And Fen, as always, never disappoints. The slow aspect of the Split album is lost as these three take over, and an extra dimension is added through a bigger focus upon the vocal tracks. The exchange between the two halves are noticeable, however not at all unpleasant or forced; As I hinted at earlier, the two bands compliment eachother quite nicely As a whole, Call of Ashes II / Stone and Sea is a very powerful little album, lasting approximately thirty-five rugged and unrelenting minutes, a great example of what the Atmospheric Black Metal genre has to offer when left to its own devices. When I still give Fen a slightly higher score than Sleepwalker, I suppose it is only fair to admit that this is due to me being biased; I am a big fan of Fen, and that unwittingly made me appreciate their half of the Split a bit more. That being said, however, my eyes have definitely been opened up for Sleepwalker, and I will be taking a keen interest in them from this point onwards. Sadly I could not find any of the tracks on YouTube, so no link today. However, you may have more luck than I. The album is recommended for fans of Dawn of a Dark Age, Winterfylleth and Wodensthrone.