The most satisfying split releases are those that manage to provide new material from a pair of artists whose styles complement each other well, so Italians Tenebrae in Perpetuum and Washington State's Krohm already have this in common, as both produce huge and resonant walls of slowly moving black metal that rely centrally on the emotions of despair and obscure majesty to mesmerize the audience into a state of loss; loss not for having listened to the audio work, but loss in that the music will summon dire feelings of regret or self punishment for one's perceived failures in life. Debemur Morti is perhaps the perfect label for such sorrow laden convictions, and the both of the artists level out with about 21 minutes of material that is difficult to escape once you have let yourself in the front door.
Tenebrae in Perpetuum are one of my favorite bands on the Italian scene, and I was a major fan of the cavernous, diabolic tones found on their latest opus L'Eterno Maligno Silenzio, which came during a year in which numerous such releases were making their scars upon my spirit. Here, the band offer a trio of Roman numerated tracks that are all around 6-7 minutes in length, with titanic, rasping vocals over stringy, resonant guitars that breed only ghostlike qualities as they writhe across a bottomless ravine of abyssal rhythms. They seem to become more engrossing as they proceed: "I" fires on all confrontational cylinders, a mirror of their recent full length efforts; "II" uses clean, sparse guitars to great effect as the vocals erupt like wells of blood newly prospected from a human host, and then the battering assault begins in earnest. "III" provides a continued storm, and whilst I can't award it for being unique, its dips in and out of clean, creepy tones make for unseasoned but breathtaking transitions.
The US band Krohm is tonally warmer, more complete than their Italian counterparts here. Whereas Tenebrae leaves some element of their sound strictly to the imagination, with a thin if throbbing bass mechanic, Numinas creates a fuller body with the more prominent use of synths, and thick rocking surges that remind of earlier Katatonia meets Agalloch, and a more individual streak to each of his three pieces: the desperate, dreary majesty of "The Black Bridge", the hissing asylum dementia of "Toccato Dalla Desecrazione", and the almost mighty metal transformation of "Sentinel Monolith", which is the single most breathtaking track on this entire split. Despite the slight tonal variations, Numinas is a good match for the Italians, because both provoke a semblance of melancholic riffing which they excel at despite any familiarity it bears with other artists of the depressive black metal scene.
This is a quality split, but it's not for the impatient. The songs are not extremely long, all hovering about the 7 minute mark, but they still take some time to work their witching ways and castrate the remaining hope and soul of the listener. This said, I would not really recommend it to anyone who was not already familiar and morbidly delirious over the bands' prior output, or dense and depressive black metal in the vein of Shining. Krohm comes out slightly head due to the slightly stronger character of his pieces, but the Italians are not far behind, and should quite please fans of Antico Misticismo or L'Eterno Maligno Silenzio.
Verdict: Win [7.5/10]