Wowod & Somn - Split

04 Oct 2022 - Knut

Atmospheric Black Metal, Blackgaze, Post Metal, Doom Metal | Church Road Records | Release date: 07 Oct 2022

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The metal-related music scene in St Petersburg is a true melting pot of bands and musicians who know no genre-borders when it comes to creating visionary metal music. When you get your hand on new music from bands like Wowod and Somn you know it will be very good. You do a couple of first listens and your expectations are met. And then you do some further listening and, as always with these bands, it kicks in why it is so outstanding: You notice the hidden structures in the layers, the melodic themes and the minor shifts in tonality that, although it is a vortex of distorted sound, shows that less is also more in this kind of music.

It is always impressive how these bands develop and build the songs, the structures, the layers and shifts in tonality, the abrasive brutality and the fragile emotional beauty that pours out of the music that surely make them a genre of their own. The two bands on this split come from different “sides” of the genre spectrum, with Wowod often (but not always) as a Post-Hardcore band and Somn a Post-Black Metal or Blackgaze band. And when they meet on this split you get a whiff of the creative range of the scene in St Petersburg.

Wowod´s contribution to the split is a three part musical piece called ”Obrechenie”, Russian for “doom”. And Doom it is as it opens with the first part ”Prelude” which is stretching out as a slowly rising Darkwave part. The electronic sounds are glimmering and embrace a sound of deep, soft and heavy droplets. A melodic theme is slowly sneaking around in the sonics and will reappear in the other parts. This foreboding part prepares for the doomy “Part 2” which opens at Funeral Doom pace with bass, drums and deep growling vocals over undecided guitar and distorted electronic sonics.

This elongated heavy doom soundscape is a new side of Wowod that just shows how competent they are at composing heavy dark music. The second part flows into the ”Part 3” of ”Obrechenie” with the same slow tempo among layers of sound. Clear vocals are soaring above the vast and gliding music, the bass guitar begins to push the pace faster and darker sonics rise up behind the vocals with fuzzy guitars in wah-wah mode - the track becoming more Blackgaze than Doom. The vocals are struggling more against the other instruments until the sonics are echoing into silence.

Somn open their part of the split with ”Fracture” and some gleaming echoing guitar aloft sound effects. The rest of the instruments are closing in while slow steadfast drums control the pace. Suddenly the vortex of blast beats and a heavy distorted wall of sound mixed with screaming vocals are raging fast forward, but because this is Somn there is a melodic structure in the turmoil. And they are full of surprises as the middle of the song, although heavy and distorted, changes tempo into a cheerful melody at a pace where your dance foot might begin to wriggle a bit. The bass pushes onwards and the vocals are back over the steadfast pace until the song completely changes. This change leads to a mighty distorted soundscape with a high-pitched tremolo solo guitar. It evolves into a yearning crescendo with small changes in tonality to support the high-flying guitar. It is a beautifully crafted piece of emotionally charged Blackgaze where longing and anger melt into each other welded together by some really impressive drumming.

The song glides into ”Dissolve” - four minutes of liquifying alleviating Darkwave. Soft droplets fall far away in the vast sonics. You might want to put this track on repeat and lean back to take a break from the mayhem that surrounds us.

Somn ends the split with ”Reform” whose opening keep the effects from the previous track floating under the guitars that slowly build to meet the occasional bass. Little by little a sublime melodic theme rises up and creates soul-stirring Blackgaze sounds. The diverse drumming supports the minor changes in tonality and pushes the music to a faster pace until it moves into blast mode and the abrasive vocals are back over the multitude of melodic layers. The signature high pitched guitar climbs up on top of it and then the fast-paced music gives way to elongated electronic sounds. The song lingers for a while before it fades away into the void.

In the “liner notes” on Bandcamp the bands say that this split was made before the atrocities against Ukraine began. But listening to it, it feels like it was made last week. That is what true art does, it dips into the zeitgeist. This album is released in the midst of a chaotic time for all the bandmembers. Let us hope they somehow manage to keep the collective music scene from St Petersburg vivid. And let us cross our fingers that they are all as OK as they can be. With this album they have showed us that the love of music knows no borders and has no enemies.