Splits can be a funny thing, and for something that should seem so simple, bands and labels find countless ways to screw them up. Good music just isn’t enough. The bands and/or jams really need to complement each other in some way, or provide a vehicle through which to discover a beastly new act, as was the case with Exhumed and Iron Reagan’s recent joint production. The most artistically successful splits are also by far the rarest, going beyond merely crafting quality sides A and B to form an actual, honest-to-goodness album.
Blut Aus Nord and P.H.O.B.O.S. have done just that with Triunity. And to a person who only knows one of those bands (the former), and knows them quite well (no amount of Vindsvalian market saturation is too much for this guy), they have done so in a very curious, fresh, and constantly engaging way.
To a Blut Aus Nord fan, most of what is going on here is instantly recognizable: twisted and entrancing leads, hypnotic and cyclical riffs, and a menacing yet inviting atmosphere. There is, however, one major difference: real, human drums, provided by Gionata “Thorns” Potenti (Acherontas, ex-Glorior Belli, countless others). The result is an strangely humanized version of Blut Aus Nord, and the freshest slab of sound they’ve put out since Sect(s).
The drums create the impression that this was recorded live, and moments such as the nutso heavy stomp in “Hùbris” and proggy machinations in “Némeïnn” add to the vibe that the instruments are actually feeding off of each other. Wickedly cool stuff, and reason enough for any BaN fan to nab this album…but far from the biggest reward.
When the baton is passed to P.H.O.B.O.S., Triunity takes what initially feels like a sudden left turn. “Glowing Phosphorous” begins as a rigid layer cake of programmed drums, half-blackened vocals (almost a whisper at times), eerie ambient noises, and a ton of sci-fi bleeps and bloops. In one way, it’s a chance to take a breath, as relaxing sounds move in and out of the background, creating a fragile sense of safety. But despite a less claustrophobic sound than the BaN half, the corruption is still quite present, and the way in which P.H.O.B.O.S. builds this idea over their three songs is the key to the album’s holistic nature.
Best of all, final track “Ahrimanic Impulse Victory” actually sounds strangely like something Blut Aus Nord might present on a different release, complete with Godfleshian beats, wiry leads, and ghostly vocals.
In truth, I was fully prepared to forget about one half of Triunity in short order, as I have with many splits in the past. Haven’t we all? It’s a natural reaction to the various ways in which these releases so often come up short, not the least of which is having some other band distract you from music you already hold dear. But this is the rare exception. Triunity not only shows off the talents of both Blut Aus Nord and P.H.O.B.O.S. through compelling material, it manages to stand on its own as a rad, surprising whole.