Sunday, December 4, 2011

2011 in review - splits

Are you anxious for the top 100 list? Me too, but there's still one more step before we get to that. I could have tacked this one to the EP/demo list, but splits have become so important that I think they warrant a little category of their own. They allow bands to get extra creative and to join forces, be it on a strict split release or on a collaborative effort, and it's a format that usually brings out something that wasn't there before in the sound of the bands involved. Or it's just a place to dump tracks they wouldn't use otherwise, but hey. If it rocks, it rocks.

Here's the 15 splits I enjoyed the most this year, alphabetically ordered.

ABADDON INCARNATE / PHOBIA Split 7"
It's all over in less than 10 minutes, but sweet grindin' Jesus, what a blast. Abbadon Incarnate's five minutes impressed me so much I even did a band of the week post on them when I got this.

AIDAN BAKER / THISQUIETARMY Orange
It's a bit of a spoiler but not much of a surprise - Thisquietarmy's 'Resurgence' will be in my top 100, so Eric Quach manages the feat of getting on all three lists (he was on the EP list as well with Parallel Lines) of 2011. If only I had seen any of his bands live, he might have done the list poker. Yeah, I'll do a shows list as well. I don't sleep much. Anyway, he did it through a bit of time travel, since this disconcerting collaboration between him and the Nadja man dates from 2006. However, this reissue features a lot of new music from those sessions that didn't make it to the original EP, and even if it's understandable why it didn't, as it flows in a rather different direction, it's still wonderfully captivating and able to envelop you in thick, almost palpable atmospheres. There's an obvious chemistry at work between the two men, and the best compliment paid to this collaborative work is that you can't really tell who's doing what and who wrote what in most of the songs.

AUSSITÔT MORT / HEAVEN IN HER ARMS Split 10"
 An obvious pairing, as the two bands have long maintained a partnership that has seen them tour together and everything. Stylistically, they complement each other well too, as the two shoegazing Envy-like tracks from Heaven In Her Arms find a more aggressive, post-hardcore counterpoint in the two Aussitôt Mort songs in the way as if they're two long lost lovers.

COILGUNS / KUNZ Split
 Bit of an oddity, this one - both Coilguns and Kunz are side-projects from The Ocean members. Coilguns feature Louis, Luc and Jona, while Kunz consist of Louis (switching from bass to guitar) and Luc still drumming. The fact that there's a clear difference between the two speaks volumes about the musical creativity of these people. Coilguns offer three tracks of a chaotic brand of groovy mathcore and Kunz, the most exciting of the two, lay down four tracks of surprisingly raw and dirty riff-mangling heaviness. Edgy and boundlessly energetic music.

CLINGING TO THE TREES OF A FOREST FIRE / NESSERIA Split 12"
I'm a huge fan of CTTTOAFF, I've featured them as band of the week when their last full-length came out last year, so this seemed like a perfect excuse to get all brutalized by a few new songs from them, but then I saw Nesseria tearing it up live at the SWR festival and realized their side of the split would be just as great, and their The Secret-ish fury does not disappoint.

DESPISE YOU / AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED On And On And On...
This is particularly exciting because it features the first recorded material from Despise You in over seven years, so it's great to be subjected to their much-missed face-melting powerviolence insanity once again. And as far as insanity goes, there's no one better than Agoraphobic Nosebleed for a fuck buddy (come on, this is grindcore after all, I'm allowed a little vulgarity). With songs in the vein of 'Agorapocalypse' (ie, longer than 20 seconds), they'll mash up any bones that were still left intact after Despise You's frenetic attack.

GNAW THEIR TONGUES / HALO OF THE SUN / THE ARM AND SWORD OF A BASTARD GOD / THE SLAUGHTERED LAMB In Hoc Signo Vinces
If you've read this blog before, you're probably aware of my unhealthy Gnaw Their Tongues obsession, so it's not hard to guess why I got into 'In Hoc Signo Vinces' in the first place. Hell, I have to confess, apart from Halo Of The Sun that I was aware was an Axis Of Perdition side-thing, I didn't even know who all these other people were. So it was with great joy (well, and with great dread and horror too) that I realized they more than held up their own alongside the two tracks of Gnaw Their Tongues' typically scary pieces of abject perversion. Halo Of The Sun deliver their own doomy dark ambient, but it's the putrid remnants of some sort of raped and killed version of death metal from The Arm And Sword Of A Bastard God and The Slaughtered Lamb that most impress here - the 6 minutes of 'GutterMotherCreator' from the former and what feels like three days of 'Hands And Head Not Found' from the latter will regularly show up in your worst nightmares for a long time.

HOODED MENACE / ILSA Split 12"
HOODED MENACE / ASPHYX Split 7"
Anything Hooded Menace releases will always have a place in my lists. Even if it's just Lasse Pyykkö strumming the same note with that tone, I'll be in doom heaven. Or hell, depending on perspective. So two splits released this year means two new great Hooded Menace songs, wonderfully titled 'Catacombs Of The Graceless' and 'Abode Of The Grotesque'. That American crusty doomsters Ilsa and legendary Dutch death metal giants Asphyx contribute to the horror of each release with fittingly grotesque complements is the icing on the rotten cake.

KAIJU / DRUID LORD Split
Powerful death/doomsters Druid Lord from Florida have put out a couple more splits this year (7" stuff with Skeletal Spectre and Wooden Stake), but this one with horror-obsessed Kaiju is clearly the most exciting. A two-disc affair that even sees Kaiju tackling Blue Öyster Cult's 'Godzilla' and Massacre's 'Dawn Of Eternity', it also features my favourite Druid Lord songs from their short career so far - wonderful monstrosities like 'Foul Smell From The Cemetery' and 'Burn In A Pagan Fire' push your face into the damp earth like a zombie wearing combat boots.

LIFEDECEIVER / UTOPIUM Split 7"
Cream of the Portuguese crap! Lifedeceiver, commiting to tape some songs from their incendiary live shows at last, are confrontational, heavy and don't care if you live or die. Utopium, as you've already seen on my EP list, are a prime example of how it's possible to grind it out, Southern Lord style, while still maintaining an edge and a distinct personality - just witness their Siege cover for definitive proof. The joining of the two is a guaranteed kick in the neck.

NADJA / PICASTRO Fool Redeemer
Soon, Nadja will run out of people in the world to collaborate with, but there's still fantastic combinations to be had, if this remarkable record is any indication. Apparently a mere split if you look at the tracklist, but the fact is that both entities had a significant contribution to each other's tracks. So we get Nadja's long piece of brooding droning dirge punctuated by occasional dabs of psych-folk, and Picastro's oddly moving songs being haunted by swashes of fuzzy darkness.

SUN DEVOURED EARTH / VERWÜSTUNG / LOLI VOMITS Split
It starts in America, with Verwüstung antagonizing everyone unlucky to play this foul three-way split with their abrasive black drone, erm, "song" called 'I Hate People'. It's true to its title, people. Then, there's a detour to Latvia as Sun Devoured Earth (whom you are very encouraged to discover the rest of their discography) offer a brief sickly respite with the malaise of their shoegaze hiss, and it's back to America for Loli Vomits to puke all over what's left of your good mood with two filthy funeral punk (yeah, you read that right) abnormalities, the final one being called 'I'm Miserable'. If you have 36 minutes to kill, kill them with extreme prejudice with this record. You'll never get them back.

AS WE DRAW / HEUGLENA / HEXIS Throatruiner 3-way Split
Another three-way split, but this one wouldn't make cemetery maggots sick like the previous one. They'd probably explode in a puddle of white goo with the sheer amount of raging intensity these three bands display. The hellish fury just grows and grows until the bleak, Celeste-ian Hexis reach absolute critical mass with two of the angriest songs you'll hear in 2011.

UNDERSMILE / CARETAKER Split
It's Undersmile, alright? It's getting embarrassing to keep praising them, you should all have purchased the EP 'A Sea Of Dead Snakes' I talked about on the last post and this EP too, as well as flooding their facebook, begging them to get the album done already. On top of it, Caretaker discordantly riff all over the place and make the whole thing even more indispensable.

WINO / SCOTT KELLY Split 7"
If you need a reason for the presence of these two great men playing a new acoustic song each on my list, you're clearly reading the wrong blog. You can listen to both of them here.

1 comment:

  1. This is some great stuff. Fuel Redeemer is my favorite for sure! Cheers.

    ReplyDelete