This split between California's Minenwerfer and the Ukraine's 1914 is certainly something I wouldn't have expected. Two bands on completely opposite sides of the world making war themed metal, of course in 1914's case, their country has literally become a warzone. So I'd assume that 1914 have actual experience with such a subject by now that it isn't just the product of several WWI books and documentary films. Unfortunately. My thoughts on the war are not very pleasant, but I won't get into them here. In any case, we have two bands that are both worthy of promotion.
The first of course is California's Minenwerfer (Minethrower) and they do produce a style of black metal that I'd describe as raw, dissonant and slightly technical. Though the band mainly use droll tones, there are also some obscure riff compositions that create a sort of slightly progressive sense to the music. They also love to thrash, blast and generally cause a ruckus. It's twenty minutes of extremely dark chaos with some unexpected nods to rock n' roll shredding (Iron Cross) that sound very similar to other acts in the genre. It isn't until “Second Battle Of The Masurian Lakes” that things really start to pick-up for me and I'm suddenly aware of their talent. Considering that members of funeral doomers Lycus are here (Nick Liuzzi plays the guitar in both bands) and Liuzzi's penchance for shredding up a storm during some of these admittedly rather punchy numbers, you're definitely getting everything you could want from a black metal act. It doesn't get much more dark or depressing than this without going into howl territory, and I'm glad that the record never reached that level of stupidity.
The next act we have is of course 1914, who have given us a much different sort of performance this time around. Aside from and intro and an interesting electronic remix, there are only two songs here, “Karpathenschlacht” and “8 × 50 mm. Repetiergewehr M.95.” Yeah, that's a hell of a name for a song and it sounds much more like a loaded weapon – which it is, of course. Fortunately, this one is a good mix of doom, black metal and atmosphere. It tends to stick towards more melodic and somber tones, but this just goes to show the listener that 1914 are more than the basic black metal affair of blasts and tremolo riffs. These unexpected excursions are what will propell the band further into relevance, and by all means; they should be blowing up by now. This is essentially well-crafted work that a great deal of thought was put into, not to mention the soundclips sometimes used in order to create the atmosphere of war. As I said, the electronic remix for “Gas Mask” is interesting and not just something thrown in for filler. Though dubstep is certainly used a bit within the piece, I found it extremely interesting when chiptunes came into play and it began to sound like these gentlemen were soring a classic Nintendo title. I love chiptunes obviously, and the fact that these guys decided to give that a go here is something I found quite inviting,
All in all, both bands have recorded decent efforts on their respective sides and you can't go wrong with a disc like this. I definitely feel that the 1914 side is much stronger than the Minenwerfer, but I would not turn either side away due to just how intriguing they can be in their respective styles. Though the two acts are similar in sound, they are by and large different in style, which you'll notice quite early on. This EP might be hard to come by as far as a physical release is concerned, but you can always pick up a digital copy on Bandcamp.
(8 Tracks, 43:00)