MMXIV-MMXVI is special not only for featuring exclusive tracks from both bands, but also each band covers the other. ONIRIK are up first, and their four lengthy, side-filling tracks here are the one-man band's first new songs since the critically acclaimed Casket Dream Veneration was co-released in 2015 by ALTARE and IRON BONEHEAD's Necroshrine division. Compared to the foggy, almost-medieval wanderings of that monumental album, here ONIRIK goes down a grimmer route, surging and purposeful but powerfully recorded, proving that second wave-styled black metal is well and alive and truly dead. GRIMFAUG have been silent for a decade now, but arise from the crypt as a perfect pairing for this split. Exploding with righteous resolve, the too-long-MIA duo (who variously feature members of Nightbringer, Striid, Enthroned, Coldborn, and Bestia Arcana among others) spiral through a hysteric, miasma-inducing maelstrom of classic coldness. Together, it's a record that could've easily come out in 1997 as it does 2017: ancient darkness is always breathing, inhaling the the bitter dust of the distant past, and MMXIV-MMXVI is poignant proof.
(Text by Nathan Birk)