The Vision of Fading Mankind serves as a showcase for two of the brighter, more promising bands on the French underground, even if their individual sounds don't have a terrible lot in common. Of the two, Temple of Baal are the more experienced, having about 13 years below their belts, three full-lengths and various other splits and demos. On the other hand, this was my first exposure to the group Ritualization, who had one demo that was re-issued through Iron Bonehead on LP, which I sadly missed. This happens pretty often, that I'll probably never have the time to search through the demo reels and cover all full-length albums simultaneously, and through the years I've simply found the latter more rewarding.
Digressions aside, the Temple of Baal contribution to this split is a quartet of tracks that are consistent with their most recent full-length, Lightslaying Rituals, which I have also reviewed. They bring a dense, ominous guitar tone in here which immediately lends itself to a striking, corpulent atmosphere beneath which they alternate rapid tremolo black metal sequences with jaw clenching double bass passages and chugging mute grooves, while the vocals dance between growls and snarls. Nothing subtle about what this band does, they simply bring the fucking clobber straight to the listener's personal space and don't even bother to dust up the ashes, and I'm sure tunes like "When Mankind Falls" and "Slaves to the Beast" are bound to be the roots of numerous lawsuits in the near future, so pit-friendly and punishing they are. One of their songs here, "Heresy Forever Enthroned" is a bit over-inflated at 9:40, but in the band's defense they vary this one up almost enough that you don't notice...
On the other hand, Ritualization have a pummeling old school, brutal death metal aesthetic about them that recalls Floridian legends like Deicide or Malevolent Creation. Rapid flurries of flesh branding mute-streams are glazed with brief, uncouth lead sequences and a vocalist that grunts percussively over the far more involved musical undertow. The production of their three contributions here is admittedly thinner and less fulfilling than those of Temple of Baal, but it works with what they're playing, and I especially liked the hustle and bounce of the bass lines and the mesmerizing, semi-technical evil melodies. What's more, in addition to their own pieces "Ave Dominus" and "The Second Crowning", they've covered "The Devil Speaks in Tongues" from the underrated Peruvian monsters Mortem. The song seems simpler in structure than their originals, but the production helps to breed consistently with the other offerings. And it's a great song...and a tasteful choice.
I don't think I could choose a victor here, and I don't need to. Temple of Baal certainly have the production element down, while Ritualization have more vicious, involved riffing. Each outfit is intense in its own right, and with luck, both evolve into favorable squads that can fill in the absent shoes of countrymen like Gurkkhas and Yyrkoon.
Verdict: Win [7.25/10]