Ezkaton/Solitude.m – Campfire of None [Split] Review

From the dense, dark fog of Eastern Europe rises the unknowable Ezkaton, emerging from their slumber of… has it really only been a year? Alright, then. But this time, they aren’t alone. No, this time they emerge from the mists accompanied by… Solitude.m? Who are they? Hang on. I have some research to do. One second… no, can’t find anything. Solitude.m is about as mysterious as Ezkaton themselves; the only thing I know about them is that they hail from the Ukraine. Aha! And they share a member with… Ezkaton. Got it. Anyway, these ethereal forces are joining together to bring new depressive black metal to cap this autumn season in the form of Campfire of None, a split between two groups of roughly equal mysteriousness. Who are they? Where did they come from? Where are they going? Is the music any good?

You’ll have to settle for one answer out of four, but at least that I can give you straightaway: yes, the music is good on Campfire of None, with Ezkaton fulfilling much of the promise of Sheen of Misery while Solitude.m makes a strong impression on their first release. The melancholy is strong on Campfire of None, owing to Ezkaton‘s slow-but-steady approach to dismay and Solitude.m‘s affinity for weaving subtle symphonic elements between the metal. Both halves of the record focus on anguished shrieking (such that I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the vocalist who’s shared by both projects) atop icy guitars. Ezkaton prefers slow, deliberate riffs, with tremolos, violins, and wind instruments contributing to the woeful atmosphere; by contrast, Solitude.m‘s riffs are heavier and act more as a backdrop, with keys and strings providing most of their woe-worthy factor.

Despite the different styles employed by each act, Campfire of None is a remarkably cohesive record, never faltering in its delivery of chilling gloom and anguish. Even as the production changes slightly, there is a natural flow between the fadeout of “Point of Remorse” and the thunderous opening to “Let Them Believe.” Album opener “Behind the Halo Nomore Lights” sets the tone for the record; mid-paced power chords compete with violins and wails to keep your spirits somber, while the drumming is just upbeat enough to keep the whole from becoming overly miserable. Tracks like “Guilty for Justice” and “The Grace” exhibit the softer side of the Ezkaton sound, tapping in acoustic guitars, female vocals, and wind instruments. On the other side of the record, Solitude.m takes a more aggressive approach with songs like “Post-Apocalyptic Rain,” balancing heavy riffing with affecting symphonic elements throughout.

The main strength of Campfire of None is that neither Ezkaton nor Solitude.m ever stray into “sad-boy” territory, where this type of music risks becoming derivative. Their music avoids weeping guitar trills and sudden instances of clean singing and instead builds an atmosphere that proves one of the record’s best features. That the production — slightly different on each side of the album, but similar enough to maintain cohesion — is mostly dry helps a lot. At times, the guitar sound, especially on the Ezkaton side, reminds me of Arctos in tone and style. Each instrument gets plenty of room to breathe, even on Solitude.m‘s side where the guitars are a bit muddier. The record clocks in at 49 minutes, after five tracks of Ezkaton and three tracks from Solitude.m, a respectable length that allows each band to showcase their strengths and versatility before turning it over to the other side without overstaying their welcome.

I’m a fan of the Campfire of None style of depressive black metal, because it is neither overwhelmingly raw, nor too depressive, nor lacking in nuance. Instead it breathes, it shifts, it adapts, and it showcases a great deal of promise while conveying its writers’ frustrations, sorrows, pains, and fears. For Ezkaton, it’s a continuation of a solid streak in songwriting and performance; for Solitude.m, it’s a promising start in the wonderful world of depressive black metal.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Wolfspell Records
Websites: ezkaton1.bandcamp.com | solitudem.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/ezkaton.band
Releases Worldwide: October 31, 20201

Show 1 footnote

  1.  Solitude.m‘s Bandcamp page has a release date of December 1, with physical copies shipping on November 11th… so a lot of release dates for this one, actually.
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