SPLITting Headache – Buncha Metal

Well, we finally made some sense out of what we want to do with this new special feature of ours, titled, as you can see, SPLITting Headache.  The problem we’ve always had with splits is that you have at least two bands, but sometimes more than that, and how do you go about reviewing that?  Do you average the scores?  Do you weigh the score towards the band who’s better?  Or do you try to do a band vs band feature like we foolishly did for a prize that doesn’t even exist?  Well, we thought, endlessly, and with lots of splits out there, sometimes sadly underrepresented on review sites, we figured, why not give them their due?  This feature here will, from here on out, focus on four different splits, and we’ll try to follow a general theme for each time we publish it.  Since we often promote our special features, it will give said splits more exposure than they normally would have received.  So, today, we figured we’d start it off with a buncha sick metal bro.  We’ve organized these totally based on release date, not in any other order.


Endorphins Lost / Flvx Capacitor – Split 7″

You know who’s annoying?  The bassist from Flvx Capacitor.  Christ, guy’s been jamming up our PMs for weeks now!  Well, we finally gave in, we had to.  But they’re only half of this 7″, also to be considered are Endorphins Lost, from Seattle.  Both of these bands promote the power violence way of life, so already this split is properly genre-balanced.  But, further note, it’s also good to balance the overall quality in presentation.  Power violence we can dig.  The main problem here is Endorphins Lost are recording through a time machine, because this sounds like listening to the majority of Slap A Ham Records releases.  They’re angry, they’re rough, but they’re also somewhat antiquated, especially that ugly, overlaid solo on top of track three.  Groaning pains…  So they’re stuck in time, far behind, and the reason is the presence of Flvx Capacitor.  Aside from their annoyingly ku-vult spelling approach, these guys make one side of this 7″ like lifting a semi-truck after a Hot Wheel.  Time travel reference in this review?  Check.  Further application to second band on split?  Just ask Biff.  Something’s changed, and that something is power, which correct us if we’re wrong, is half of ‘power violence’.  Yep, there it is right there.  So, when the flvxing begins, the bass attack is drastically increased, the levels are clean, but it’s still nicely unrefined.  Their vocals are also more varied and churning, like good power violence attitude requires.  Too much punk and it’s going backwards.  If you’re going Back to the Future make it II, not III.  Rotten to the Core Records Official Facebook  Score: 4 / 5


The Dark Key of Enki

If there’s one band we can never stop sanctifying, it’s Mexico’s Black Hate, one the key acts in suicidal black metal and one of the best.  The Dark Key of Enki is beautifully packaged with embossed artwork and only one track per side.  Enki is actually one of the three most powerful gods in Sumerian mythology, but there appears to be no connection to him and any sort of key myth.  So it opens with Black Hate, who, as usual, can turn the most vibrant of optimists suicidal in about, well, 4:15.  If the tone of these screams and moans doesn’t rip out your heart and trample it, you were never human, not an ounce of feeling within.  “C.O.C.D” (Congregation of Cosmic Depression) reaches down into your stomach, pulls out the bottle of pills you swallowed and makes you choke them back down.  The odd, Gothic piano tremolo in the middle makes for an awesome, depraved touch.  Just a killer track, these guys can do no wrong, they are the right in suicide these days.  So China’s Be Persecuted is an interesting choice for the other half, because, honestly, anyone attempting to balance Black Hate is going to fail, which these guys do.  Chinese black metal is an odd vein that often incorporates the centuries-old poetic mysticism for which the Chinese have always been known.  Sadly what you often find is a superficial, tulle veil draped over a bride neither dead nor rotting, she’s just smoking a cigarette and rather unattractive.  “Living in Dead” is average black metal that almost passes, but that awful, embarrassing, atonal, clean singing at the end is nearly unbearable.  If it weren’t for Black Hate we’d say forget it, but they completely sell this split and persecute Be Persecuted to the point of burning them in a pyre.  Without them this would have easily scored into hades itself.  In fact, consider this score specifically for Black Hate’s side and take a knife to the other so you never hear it again.  Self Mutilation Services Official Facebook  Score: 4.5 / 5


Awe / Vacantfield / End – Moerae

Well here’s a soul killer.  Featuring three almost completely unknown bands that destroy worlds, Moerae, which is Latin plural for “Fates“, is going to be too unholy for any of you Brooklyn Vicey Nation Vegans out there.  Just stay away, please, no one else needs to die in this tragic world.  Actually, those kind of people we can probably do without, so listen away!  Moerae has absolutely no flaws, it’s a perfect split.  All three bands are from Athens, that art, (heavenly God look at that filthy depravity), that theme (each song is titled after a different Fate), even the Goddamned band names have purpose, and thankfully serve as our creative edge for this review.  The LP opens with Awe, and what a fitting opener, because aside from your astonishment, it’s also meaningful, since Clotho is the fate responsible for spinning the thread of your miserable life.  There’s 17 minutes worth of echoing power here, with some inventive vocal approaches, dissonant splendor, dips into ambient pause nothing short of soul-tearing, it leaves you wondering what in God’s name could be next.  Well that would be Vacantfield, and again, how fitting.  After experiencing the expansive, genre-destroying approach of Awe, you should feel as though your soul’s now derelict, but yet there’s still more ground to cover.  Vacantfield is the energy to Awe’s ennui.  The production quality is slightly more darkened, but it’s most certain the blackest of metal.  That tumult of windburn you’re experiencing in that vast emptiness?  The thread that measures your life?  This track, right here.  But it melds quite well with the first, in particular in the way Vacantfield manipulates some of their lyrical delivery.  Can we be astonished further?  Yes, answers End.  If the first 30+ minutes weren’t enough to finalize your demise (sick rhymes are our specialty), “Atropos” will do it.  In fact, as essentially the oldest of the Fates, it is she who decides how one is to die, and this track would be the answer.  It also goes over 16 minutes in length, so End is fitting, they provide the same essence found in the rest of Moerae but manage to slow significant parts down in-between moments of build, softening, giving one last gasp of life, and then fading away.  If you haven’t given the death rattle by the time you’ve finished the LP, you didn’t take the time to listen.  Incredibly symbolic and thoughtful on absolutely every level.  This is an example of a perfect split, right here.  Best split we’ve ever encountered.  III Damnation Productions Official Facebook  Score: 5 / 5


Grausamkeit / Ruho – Split 7″

Finally this obscure thing.  We’ve been chatting with Ruho via email about another matter, and he’s interested in the real deal of black metal.  He runs a zine and distro called Behest out of Finland.  Simply put, the guy knows what he’s doing, and he knows what it means to keep it dark, deep, and obscure.  That’s probably why he wields the most powerful track on this split.  “Contagion” has just the right amount of production to keep it accessible, yet still so coarse that you’re probably not going to see another site touching it for review.  Plus, it looks like the vinyl labels are smeared with real blood, likely from one or both bands, and, you know, that’s scary.  So those other sites, they’ll likely say it leads not to likes, so it shall not be reviewed.  Well, we don’t care about that.  Ruho is absolutely destructive, his chording is so frozen and brittle it leaves icy track-marks along your limbs.  But even at high volume you’ll still feel that quality through those archaic, pounding drums and stoma screams.  Now Grausamkeit would be said to require a true black metal aesthete to get it.  That or it’s just an excuse to sound this ugly.  This guy is so underground he’s basically the only owner of any of his cassettes.  And he’s beyond raw, we’re talking the level of “done in the bathroom”, likely on a hand-held, battery-operated tape recorder.  Unlike some of this other work, though, “Kein N-tkommen” is slightly more tolerable, but still so cruelly raw it tortures its victims past pleasure to just boring the attention out of them.  The vocals are spoken right over top, as though recorded softly without waking the flatmates and the guitars and keyboards are noticeably Germanic in their sound, but the vocals are primarily English, reiterating an endless severing of 666 and unholiness that would bore even the most dedicated of black metal fans.  This seriously takes some mettle to listen to more than once.   One cannot help but think if Grausamkeit would take some time to spend money on higher-levels of production, he’d probably sound rather monstrous.  But with the poor quality to the recording and the frivolous nature of the keyboards, it almost sounds too much like a joke that you have to fool yourself to take seriously.  Word of caution, being totally underground does not mean you need to forgo spending some time, and money, on your sound.  Ruho is the primary reason to own this one, no doubt about it, and he stabilizes the score.  Please note the tracks below are samples of both bands’ work and are not from this particular 7″.  Merchant of Death Official Facebook  Darker Than Black Records Official Facebook  Score: 4.2 / 5


Written by Stanley Stepanic