Illuminated Manuscripts / Reflet Crépesculaire Split (Xenoglossy)

Splits usually offer way for bands to stake out common ground and hype each other up. In this case, however, co-conspirators Illuminated Manuscripts and Reflet Crépesculaire explore totally different sonic environments, connected only by their shared supernatural inclination.

Illuminated Manuscripts open things up with the dissociative black metal (BM) of “El Inmortal”, whose droning Himelvaruwesque ambience and a doomy pace make it sound like the band is recording from a sealed tomb. Lo-fi, but not ‘raw’, the murky production obscures in a way that soothes, as opposed to the razor-sharp trems of Paysage d’Hiver and his disciples. This gloomy churn is reminiscent of Cabinet’s filthy spelunkings, B-movie death metal delights exchanged for a serious, funereal melancholy. When a mournful lead guitar arrives late into the track, it does not ignite with passion, so much as it drifts to another sunless layer of moody contemplation. It is a ghost of a song, self-interred into the occult.

Like Veilburners traditionalist sibling, Reflet Crépusculaire's response is defined by a harsh and delirious guitar tone. On “The God’s Script,” it chugs away with impish cruelty, before shifting gears from mid-paced stomp to urgent gallop and even reckless abandon. The band really shows their knack for tension on the more impressive of the two tracks, "Ulrica", returning the split’s mood to something more fatalistic and eerie. Harsh whispers over rumbling low-ends lead into a forlorn and climactic riff, which limps onward as if straining to find release. 

While they may seem a strange pair at first, these two bands are strong foils – the sullen solemnity of the former allowing the latter's dramatic energy to shine through the mausoleum dust. Through strikingly different approaches, these projects reflect on decay as the unfaltering process of disintegration, while also revealing its potential as asource of new, albeit decrepit vitality.