Sleepwalker's Forbidden Records is slowly starting to make a name for itself it seems, mostly on the back of it's owner's project, A Tranylvanian Funeral which accounts for a significant portion of the label's releases. Three of these are split releases similar to Alchemical Manifestations, the latest split - but not latest release; an accolade to be placed on A Transylvanian Funeral's newest full length album Gorgos Goetia - featuring Texans, Plutonian Shore. The two black metal projects fit at home together on the disc rather easily - both are based on the west coast, both are newer projects forming within the past few years and both have done more splits than a porn-star gymnast. Plutonian Shore even managed to do a four way split DVD. These guys love splits.
The disc - this was also released on tape - is pretty cut and dry. I believe this is a professionally pressed CDr as no evidence of replication is present and the disc has a greenish tint to the data surface. The printing is done nicely though I have no idea what the number 2628 stands for in the middle of the cover artwork. I assume it's Sleepwalker's debit card pin number. The disc has the same design on it minus some of the background detail of the cover and I think it looks more cryptic and occult than the cover. Images of the bands reveal that Devastation, Plutonian Shore's drummer (who also plays for the excellent Preteen Deathfuk) has a great sense of smell. His facial expression is of disgust obviously from catching a whiff of unwashed black metal fans at a concert.
Musically neither band is in exceptional in any particular aspect. Plutonian Shore has the best track on the release, "Consecrating The Flesh," a live recording which presents the band in a positive manner in regards to their ability live. "Path to Amenti," is also a live track which exhibit's the band in a far more generic and boring sense. I would have left this off the release if I were them. I guess they felt that only four tracks, three if you exclude their cover of Rotting Christ's "The Fifth Illusion," wouldn't have been enough material. Their six tracks still occupy less time than A Transylvanian Funeral's quartet. The band overall isn't bad. They are competent musicians. Amethyst on keys and "incantations" whatever that means, is a major component of their sound and the band have a definite symphonic slant to their fairly generic black metal assault. They did a great job on their cover of "The Fifth Illusion," though and, unlike the original which is a bit weak in power, their version is full and sounds great. Vocally not as much passion as Necromayhem on the original though and I think the original still has more character going for it.
I would say that A Transylvanian Funeral is more consistent than Plutonian Shore, who experiment a bit more and take some more risks. I thought all four tracks were enjoyable, even if the obvious main influence is Darkthrone's Translvanian Hunger. What I thought Sleepwalker did the best was incorporate audible bass into the mixes of his tracks which really helps to give it a persistent momentum. Clean vocals appear on some tracks which gives A Transylvanian Funeral some uniqueness. The tone color would be best described as a 1930 German propaganda speech and it sounds really bright and textural under the music. "Moonchild," was my favorite of the tracks here because the opening melody is creepy, bitter and more of it's own style. The vocals weren't as interesting as either "The Supreme Rite of Transmutation," or "Night Hags," the previous track which had better rhythmic variety in regard to the lyrics. "Light Cast out," started off being another Darkthrone-esque track but halfway through the song falls away to reveal a section where just the guitar drones on with the bass providing the melody progression which was a highlight of the release.
The Plutonian Shore tracks weren't as much my style as A Transylvanian Funeral's tracks were. I don't know if Plutonian Shore will be able to differentiate themselves from so many other bands in that style whereas A Transylvanian Funeral offered some individually unique moments against the Darkthrone worship tracks to where I can say that I would be interested to hear what Sleepwalker has come up with on their newest album which was just recently release about two weeks ago titled Gorgos Goetia. All four of the tracks on this split are also available on their album so I would say if you want to check out A Transylvanian Funeral, just get their new CD.