When something golden and magnificent drops into your lap, you don’t question whether or not it’s real gold or really as good as it seems, you declare it to everyone that can hear that it’s golden and magnificent. Such is the case with the split album “Ich hatt einen Kameraden” from the bands 1914 and Minenwerfer. I can say without hesitation that this is the split of the year, hands down. Nothing else will reach the majestic awesomeness that this album has reached.
1914 is a band from Ukraine that uses World War One as the backdrop for all their music, from their stage names to the themes of the music itself. In 2015 they released Eschatology of War and I thought I had died and gone to Valhalla when I heard it, I have such a strong interest in WWI that I was shocked I hadn’t heard about this band before. Their side of the album continues where Eschatology of War left off with some new material detailing some of the Carpathian campaign as well as a reproduced version of “Gasmask,” which happened to be my favorite from Eschatology of War. Their side is spectacular, highlighting a unique mixture of black metal, doom metal, and the occasional thrash influence. Their guitar work is harmonious and fluid, the rhythm and the lead guitar working off each other as riffs become melodies while the drums continue to sound like the onward march of doom from the German troops and the gunfire in the trenches. I can’t say enough good things about 1914, the guys in the band are amazing musicians, writers, and all around good people (they know more about US geography than I do about Ukrainian so I have to hand it to them). Their side of the split a stellar clinic of wartime blackened doom.
Someone once told me that splits were the best way to find new bands while not having to really search for them. I think that’s a fairly accurate, if not very lazy, assumption. Case in point: Minenwerfer. They come from the US (don’t be fooled by the German name, which was a type of mortar the Germans used in WWI) and they offset 1914’s style with some straightforward black metal with some death metal influences around the edges. Just as with 1914, the major theme of the music and lyrics of Minenwerfer is WWI and again I feel ashamed that I hadn’t heard of them before now. They are absolutely stellar, being the more abrasive and bombastic (no pun intended) of the two. Their music is smooth despite the utter chaos, the sounds of the guitars bouncing from one side to the other while not really weaving melodies so much as laying down sound that envelopes the listener in the whole WWI feel, the music is cramped (don’t ask me to explain how sound is cramped) and claustrophobic, giving the listener a feeling of being in the trenches. Elements of terror, not horror mind you, weave through the riffs and the thrumming bass to add to the overall atmosphere of the battlefields of 1914 Europe. The vocals only serve to enhance that feeling, melding perfectly with the music.
It’s a strange thing, a hundred years ago these two groups would have been on opposing sides of the great conflict but now they come together honor both sides of the conflict and those that fought it. This is the perfect example of what a split can be, should be. It’s a mirror of musical styles upon a similar theme that play to each of the bands strengths and showcase each bands unique approach to the subject matter.
Listen and support!