Splitting Hairs / Hearing Splits (Jul-Dec 2020)


Written by: RaduP, nikarg, musclassia, Troy Killjoy, Starvynth
Published: 21.01.2021


We regularly review full lengths, collaborations, sometimes even live albums. EPs and demos often get love in our Clandestine Cuts series. Heck, we even review a bunch of stuff that isn't metal. But when was the last time you saw a review of a split album? Exactly! We are here to make up for that!

Covering the splits that were released in the second half of 2020. Take a listen to some artists putting out a record together without necessarily collaborating. The annoyance of having two or three Bandcamp streams, often with just one of the sides is worth the effort.

SH/HS 2020 Part 1





Taake / Deathcult - Jaertegn


Coming right of the heels of their other split with Whoredom Rife, Taake now release another split, this time with a band of which Hoest is actually a member: Deathcult, in which he plays the bass. Jaertegn has a different feel from the one that Pakt, or most recent Taake releases have had, in that it brings more of the raw aggression of earlier releases back. Each of the two bands have one original and one cover song, with Taake covering Darkthrone and Deathcult covering Beherit, both of them sticking quite close to the raw and cold sound of the originals. Though Deathcult's "cruel black metal" lives up to that genre description and is definitely the "trvest" of the two, Taake haven't sounded as close to it too in a long time, without compromising the vital melodic energy of their riffing. Putting the two together makes both their common trve nature stick out, but also the opposing ways they go about achieving that sound.

Bandcamp (label full)

by RaduP






Hellenic black metal veterans Kawir and newly formed - but with legendary names in the lineup - Yoth Iria have united their forces to release a split EP featuring one unreleased song from each band. Kawir's "Δείμος Και Φόβος" ("Deimos And Phobos") is a bit diverse in tone and execution, starting as relentless and aggressive pummelling, then progressing to epic and emotionally charged introspection, before ending in the rapid-fire manner it began. Yoth Iria's "The Red Crown Turns Black" (also featured in the debut full-length of the band) is immediately engaging and combines groove with fury, while paying great homage to Iron Maiden, and is one of the best black metal songs I came across in 2020. Both tracks on this EP are guitar-driven, yet very atmospheric, and share a somewhat similar structure while sounding very different from each other. And they are both shrouded in the familiar melodic and irresistible darkness of the Hellenic black metal ethos.

YouTube / Physical

*No digital release at the time of writing.

by nikarg





Conan / Deadsmoke - Doom Sessions Vol. 1


Starting in July 2020, Heavy Psych Sounds Records have introduced a new series of split Eps, the Doom Sessions. Vol. 1 features British doom heavyweights Conan and up-and-coming Italian stoner outfit Deadsmoke, although the contribution from Conan, 17-minute behemoth "Beheaded", was already featured previously on a 2013 split with Bongripper on Holy Roar Records. For what it's worth, as someone who has previously been surprisingly indifferent towards Conan given my propensity towards stoner doom metal, "Beheaded" is a hell of a listening experience, a dense, droning effort that relies on the pounding percussion to drive forward the walls of murky, downtuned guitar sustain. Very much on the drone end of the stoner doom spectrum, it won't be for everyone, but it seems a natural fit with Bongripper, and I am a fan of the vulgar swamp Conan conjures during this track. Deadsmoke's contributions, "Dethrone Concrete" and "Dead Minds Army", are less punishingly droning; at times there are stretches of slow, sustained chords, but the band are able to shift into groovier and/or faster riffs, with "Dethrone Concrete" gradually shifting from its trudging origins towards a stoner rock sound. Deadsmoke's songs, particularly "Dethrone Concrete", are valuable additions to the split, with some nice guitar leads in this track; however, I feel like they are ever so slightly overshadowed by the relentless force of "Beheaded".

Bandcamp (Conan side) / Bandcamp (Deadsmoke side)

by musclassia





1782 / Acid Mammoth - Doom Sessions Vol. 2


Two months after Doom Sessions Vol. 1 came Doom Sessions Vol. 2, this time featuring Greek group Acid Mammoth alongside another Italian band, 1782. Compared to the bleak, sludgy doom featured on Vol. 1, Vol. 2 is lighter, leaning closer to the Electric Wizard school of stoner doom. 1782's songs don't feature much to be surprised by, matching the cheesy horror movie vibes inspired by Electric Wizard and perpetuated in the split's album artwork. The guitar tone, vocal tone and song pacing follow the template to the letter, producing a trio of enjoyable songs, but songs that lack something in memorability given the onslaught of similar artists within a scene that has exploded in the two decades prior to 1782's formation. Acid Mammoth had some success with their other 2020 release, the full-length sophomore record Under Acid Hoof, and their contributions to this split are superior to those from 1782's, between the more ear-catching guitar tone, richer production and stronger songs ("Sleepless Malice" is perhaps the highlight of the split), even if they similarly ape the Electric Wizard template. Out of the two splits released so far, I prefer Vol. 1, but I'm interested to see what else they offer on future outings; Vol. 3, slated for release in late February, will be of a sludgier affair, featuring 16 and Grime.

Bandcamp (1782 side) / Bandcamp (Acid Mammoth side)

by musclassia






I don't know if you noticed, but old school death metal is still pretty popular. A lot of these bands get a lot of underground (or even mainsteam) attention, some of which even before their actual full length debuts. Mortiferum and Hyperdontia are both bands I've heard being mentioned quite a bit outside of Metal Storm, one of them USian and one of them Danish, both of which having released just one full length record. Most importantly, both of them have this filthy sound to them. Mortiferum are more doom-infused than Hyperdontia (hence why their song is two minutes longer), but both bands absolutely crush. There's a reason why this sound is still so popular. Whether the more direct Hyperdontia or the more drawn-out Mortiferum, the atmosphere that both bands create is so vile, that you begin to wonder why doesn't all death metal records sound this slimy, considering the huge staying power of it.

Bandcamp (label full) / Bandcamp (label full) / Bandcamp (Mortiferum side) / Bandcamp (Hyperdontia side)

by RaduP





Brain Corrosion / Ripped To Shreds - Exhumed From Eastern Tombs


Exhumed From Eastern Tombs finds two underground Taiwanese acts, one of them since settled in the USA, that tackle on extremity in fairly similar fashion. Rippled To Shreds is a one-man band, of the same Andrew Lee who you may have seen in Houkago Grind Time, but part of Rippled To Shreds' live Taiwanese lineup (because there seems to be an USian one as well) also features Derek Lin, who does bass and vocals in Brain Corrosion, so there's a direct link between the two. Other than this lineup one, both bands have pretty punky takes on extreme metal, Brain Corrosion seeping in grind and Ripped To Shreds in death metal (hence why Ripped To Shreds have a 4 minute song here), but for this record they cross over deeper and deeper into deathgrind to mold their sound on Brain Corrosion's by covering a bunch of Assück, Gridlink and Asocial songs. The result is a full-throttle energetic mess of Eastern punk brutality.

Bandcamp (label full) / Bandcamp (label full) / Bandcamp (Brain Corrosion side) / Bandcamp (Ripped To Shreds side)

by RaduP





By The Spirits / Fellwarden / Mosaic / Osi And The Jupiter - Songs Of Origin And Spirit


Featuring just under 80 minutes of immersive neofolk soundscapes, this quad-dimensional foray into solitude and contemplation makes its presence felt with an excellent showing of ethereal synths, soulful acoustics, and heartfelt existentialism. The dreamy atmosphere and gentle melodies capture a forlorn sense of knowing, careful to avoid the threatening shadows that lie in wait for those too careless with their mental wanderings. Instead, Songs Of Origin And Spirit focuses on the beauty and purity of nature's inherent mysticism and philosophical inclinations, with each outfit contributing their own unique take on elements of consciousness and the state and reason of being, while resembling a single cohesive unit as if parts of a play broken up into four acts. By The Spirits introduce the audience to their chamber-like resonance and jarring juxtaposition. Fellwarden establish an uplifting tone to entice hope with softer strumming and elongated segments dominated by grandiose instrumentation. Mosaic conjure a darker, more sinister vibe with Germanic spoken word passages and a jagged direction of harshly executed occult-like feelings of general unease in a more stripped down, yet artful approach. This leaves Osi And The Jupiter to close things out with their simultaneously melancholic and inviting late-night campfire gathering of a performance, subdued and tranquil in its simplicity. It's a worthwhile undertaking in its entirety, but each piece of the puzzle is enough to provide something personally rewarding for anyone willing to give themselves over to the little universe in the woods created by these versed poets of self-reflection.

Bandcamp (By The Spirits side) | Bandcamp (Fellwarden side) | Bandcamp (Mosaic side) | Bandcamp (Osi And The Jupiter side)

by Troy Killjoy






Cryptic Shift / Replicant / Inoculation / Astral Tomb - Chasm Of Aeons


Cosmic death metal is a sound that has its origins in the early 90s, but has neatly developed and found a niche up to the current day. Chasm Of Aeons is a four-way split, courtesy of Blood Harvest Records, that reunites four of the more recent of the bunch, three of whom having already one full length under their belt. Out of the bunch you may be most familiar with Cryptic Shift whose debut, Visitations From Enceladus, made quite an impression on me. Though their track, the aptly titled "Cosmic Dreams", is my favorite one here, the other bands aren't that far off with their angular bouncy tech death sound of the more sci-fi kind. Astral Tomb, the only ones with no full length, have a more lo-fi out there take on the whole sound, but otherwise Chasm Of Aeons is 20 minutes of gurgly vocals, poignant bass, intricate riffing, a crew on a spaceship, a few malevolent outer space beings, and the vastness of the cosmos. Sounds like a date.

Bandcamp (label full) / Bandcamp (label full) / Bandcamp (Replicant side) / Bandcamp (Inoculation side) / Bandcamp (Astral Tomb side)

by RaduP





Ixaxaar Nexia / Gorge - Ixaxaar Nexia / Gorge


Viewed from the perspective of the potential target group, this German/Canadian joint effort fulfills exactly the purpose that one should rightfully expect from a meaningful split release: to feature two relatively unknown but up-and-coming bands that make neither completely different nor absolutely identical music. Roughly speaking, the style of both split partners can be labeled as death metal - and this is where the common characteristics end. Germany's Gorge dedicate themselves to a sound that can be best described with just four letters: OSDM. Carnage, (early) Entombed and Autopsy evidently had a strong influence on Gorge's perception of old school death metal done right and no one would ever argue that this set of forerunners isn't an excellent selection. Gorge's contribution is a highly energetic and infectious combination of dominant buzzsaw riffs, stomping rhythms and groove, spiced up with a generous portion of varied drumming and a flawless vocal performance. Ixaxaar Nexia is a Canadian quartet hailing from Toronto and they have pledged their maltreated souls to an oppressive and ultra-intense compound of death and black, occasionally bordering harsh war metal grounds. Almost inevitably, kindred acts like Diocletian, Archgoat and fellow countrymen Antediluvian come to mind as soon as Ixaxaar Nexia unleash their merciless aural assault of pummelling blastbeats, frantic riffing, rattling growls and high-pitched screams in order to penetrate your eardrums.

Bandcamp (label full) / Bandcamp (Gorge full) / Bandcamp (Ixaxaar Nexia side)

by Starvynth





Heresiarch / Antediluvian - Defleshing The Serpent Infinity


What do Heresiarch and Antediluvian have in common other than they they play a very dissonant and gnarly form of blackened death metal? They're both really due for another full length. New Zealand's Heresiarch has just came out with their full length debut, and they do provide most of the meat on this split, but Canada's Antediluvian's last album came out in 2013, and since then they've only released splits where their contributions amounted to one track. This one is a bit of an exception, being two tracks, but the closing one is an ambient one, so not really. Heresiarch do provide an ambient track of their own, so there's definitely some symmetry here, but the bands are at their best at their gnarliest, with Heresiarch on the murky side and Antediluvian on the maddening side. So they provide, but in a small enough dose, with there being more ambient than metal on this split, that it just leaves me aching for more.

Bandcamp (label full) / Bandcamp (Antediluvian side)

by RaduP





Pharmacist / Golem Of Gore - Ambulatory Sonic Suppuration


This split EP of Pharmacist and Golem Of Gore features two different takes on goregrind. Pharmacist from Japan embrace the gory (duh) theme of course but they are a very riff-based band, they incorporate melody in their songs and they take their cues from pre-Heartwork era Carcass, as well as from legendary Czechs Pathologist. If you like Pharmacist's contribution here, make sure you check out their debut full-length Medical Renditions Of Grinding Decomposition, which also came out last year and absolutely rips. Italians Golem Of Gore, on the other hand, focus on chaotic riffs and blastbeats, gurgly vocals, and feature an annoyingly clanging snare sound. Between the two bands, my money definitely goes to Pharmacist's old-school grinding death decomposition because they have better structure in their songs, it seems that they have spent more time and thought towards their music, and they feel less like a gimmick and more like a band.

Bandcamp (label full) / Bandcamp (Pharmacist side) / Bandcamp (Golem Of Gore side)

by nikarg





Until My Funerals Began / In Lacrimaes Et Dolor / Sepultus Est - Ad Cenerem


Three artists, four songs and over 70 minutes of funeral doom (all my write-ups this month are variations on doom, who knew I was such a fan) courtesy of Russian label GS Productions, Ad Cenerem features bands from countries as far-flung as Ukraine, Italy and Peru. Until My Funerals Began write more 'bite-sized' songs, with their two tracks combined not running as long as Sepultus Est's effort, and these more digestible songs also make for some of the easiest listening; yes, the songs are very slow, but (unless I missed some vocals) they're purely instrumental, and the various keyboard and electronic layers throughout add a fair amount of melody alongside an air of grandeur, in contrast to the Monolithe-style riffing (I would say that Monolithe is the established point of reference that most naturally comes to mind when listening to the songs on this split, particularly their earlier funeral doom work). "When Time Will Come", the song supplied by In Lacrimaes Et Dolor, features growls, and whilst there is still a substantial keyboard presence, but guitars arguably take on slightly greater responsibility for shaping the melodic atmosphere of this song compared with on the Until My Funerals Began tracks. "Requiem", almost reaching the 30-minute mark, comes courtesy of Peru's Sepultus Est, and compared with their European brethren, Sepultus Est manage to make the piano, keyboards and electronics even more central to their sound, with substantial stretches of only piano, alongside some quite brash synth sounds during portions of the metal part of the song. The piano pieces at times stray from the slow and melancholic towards a more frenetic and chromatic approach, which are the most distinctive sections of the split, for better or worse. I like all the songs here, but given the similarity in approach across the three groups, I would perhaps rate the efforts by Until My Funerals Began as the picks of the bunch here, partly due to their ability to write this style in a more condensed manner, and partly due to the range of electronics employed and the manner in which they are utilized to create a compelling atmosphere.

Bandcamp (label full) / Bandcamp (In Lacrimaes Et Dolor side)

by musclassia






This is the main event rollercoaster in the amusement park situated all the way near the back where you're forced to stand in line pressed up against other sweaty, dehydrated, beleaguered strangers zoning out as they stare into the distance waiting for their next adrenaline fix. When it's finally your turn to get strapped in and you see that big round "GO" switch light up its forgiving fluorescent green, you make the slow ascent to the top of the world, and then it's over. You don't remember what just happened, but you know you had a good time and you have to do it again. Absurdist and A Million Dead Birds Laughing are here to deliver the same experience, the former (who contribute their first musical output in nearly a decade) focusing more on the -core aspects, old school sounding riffs, and playing around with pace changes, while the latter brings forth an ugly dissonance and punchy production with trigger-happy drums to maintain the stream of aggression flowing straight through to the end. While some grind acts try to implement a sense of melody to keep things somewhat erring on the side of accessible, this collection of cacophony instead expresses the more carnal, mosh-inducing side sometimes forgotten in the midst of the genre's evolution -- ironically something both of these bands have helped with.

Bandcamp (AMDBL full)

by Troy Killjoy





Faal / Fading Bliss - Neither Tide Nor Time


The Netherlands' Faal and Belgium's Fading Bliss join forces on Malpermesita Records' doom split Neither Tide Nor Time, and keeping with doom tradition, this four-track EP contains a full length album's worth of music, running for over 40 minutes. Each group contributes 2 songs; however, one of each band's songs is a cover of a track by the other band. Faal covers "Ocean" from Fading Bliss' 2018 record Journeys In Solitude, whereas Fading Bliss offer their interpretation of "00:00", which featured way back on Faal's 2008 debut record Abhorrence - Salvation. Whilst someone unfamiliar with either band wouldn't naturally assume the different origins of each track, when aware of this background, it makes sense; "Ocean" is far closer to Gothic doom than the almost funeral doom of "About A Tree", particularly due to the female cleans and keyboards. In contrast, the cover of "00:00" and Fading Bliss' original song "The Need To Suffer" are much closer stylistically, both cut from similar Gothic death/doom cloth. This does make "About A Tree" the odd one out here in some ways; however, whilst your enjoyment of that song compared with the other three may depend on your preference/tolerance for Gothic elements in your extreme doom, I find all four songs to be strong efforts, rich in atmosphere and well-paced despite their slow natures.

Bandcamp / Bandcamp (Fading Bliss full)

by musclassia





Wolf Blood / Heavy Temple - Split From The Black Hole


I've been debating with a friend about which genres have been least blended with metal, and considering that everything from blues to soul to electronica to pop to jazz has been blended in some way, the one we felt has been missing is funk. When asking about which metal subgenre would fit best for a blend with funk, there was only one possibility: stoner metal. Taking over funk's already heavy infusions of psych rock, here we have two hard/psych/stoner rock/metal bands covering two Funkadelic songs. Though the irony of keeping up the rock 'n' roll tradition of white people covering black music is not lost on me, this clearly comes from a position of appreciation. Heavy Temple does a better job at keeping some of the funk in "Hit It And Quit It", backing vocals and organs galore, but Wolf Blood's "I Got A Thing, You Got A Thing, Everybody Got A Thing" strips it away to its psych rock origin and channels a whole bunch of fuzz to create a spacey rift.

Bandcamp (Heavy Temple full) / Bandcamp (Wolf Blood side)

by RaduP






Agathocles release a lot of splits, like A LOT. Part of it has to do with the grind culture, since I find a lot of grind bands that also are part of an unreasonably high amount of splits, but nowhere near Agathocles levels, who already released another one this year. I had to ask them about it. Here, they're on a split with the similarly prolific and classic Mixomatosis (just not to the same extent as the former), and newcomers Sachtu, whose debut demo I covered in our Clandestine Cuts series. As expected from grindcore that is on the punk side rather than the metal side, we got quick spurs of noisy madness, just that Agathocles's sides were recorded live as Obscene Extreme 2008, and the other ones have a better quality being studio recordings. Out of what I heard, it makes me more excited for what Sachtu will come up with on their debut full length than to explore Mixomatosis' back catalog.

Bandcamp (label full) / Bandcamp (label full) / Bandcamp (Sachtu side)

by RaduP




Anything we miss? What were some of your favorite splits of the year so far?



 


Comments

Comments: 13   Visited by: 44 users
21.01.2021 - 11:38
Abattoir
Tanks for this guys. Some cool, intriguing releases on the plate.

Faal / Fading Bliss is the first one I have to check.
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21.01.2021 - 14:55
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
This is good well written article, To me to much grind core splits but I give a credit to writers about good job they did , I wish this article has future and maybe monthly as cuts and non metal?
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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22.01.2021 - 20:46
nikarg
Mod
Written by Bad English on 21.01.2021 at 14:55

This is good well written article, To me to much grind core splits but I give a credit to writers about good job they did , I wish this article has future and maybe monthly as cuts and non metal?

The plan is to keep it going but I don't see it becoming a monthly feature.
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22.01.2021 - 20:48
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by nikarg on 22.01.2021 at 20:46

Written by Bad English on 21.01.2021 at 14:55

This is good well written article, To me to much grind core splits but I give a credit to writers about good job they did , I wish this article has future and maybe monthly as cuts and non metal?

The plan is to keep it going but I don't see it becoming a monthly feature.

Nja and non metal is hehe
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
Loading...
22.01.2021 - 21:48
Uxküll
Thanks for this, was unaware of most of these splits until today.
----
"Nullum unquam exstitit magnum igenium sine aliqua dementia [there was never great genius without some madness]."
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23.01.2021 - 08:44
Cynic Metalhead
Nasha Vich Paisa
Written by nikarg on 22.01.2021 at 20:46

Written by Bad English on 21.01.2021 at 14:55

This is good well written article, To me to much grind core splits but I give a credit to writers about good job they did , I wish this article has future and maybe monthly as cuts and non metal?

The plan is to keep it going but I don't see it becoming a monthly feature.


It might become a monthly feature if it pulls a crowd here(which I can see have already started developing).
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23.01.2021 - 14:08
tintinb
I really wish there is an award category for splits.
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23.01.2021 - 14:23
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by tintinb on 23.01.2021 at 14:08

I really wish there is an award category for splits.

A bit late in to consider it for this edition, but maybe for the next one we could do something like this.
----
Jusqu'ici, tout va bien...

2021 goodies
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23.01.2021 - 14:29
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by RaduP on 23.01.2021 at 14:23

Written by tintinb on 23.01.2021 at 14:08

I really wish there is an award category for splits.

A bit late in to consider it for this edition, but maybe for the next one we could do something like this.


In corona days we can shoot forward msa and open on 23th February
----
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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23.01.2021 - 15:07
Karlabos
Weirdo of MS
Written by RaduP on 23.01.2021 at 14:23

Written by tintinb on 23.01.2021 at 14:08

I really wish there is an award category for splits.

A bit late in to consider it for this edition, but maybe for the next one we could do something like this.

I hope there's a non-metal category. Or two. Or three
----
Rose is red, violet is blue. Flag is win, Baba is you.
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23.01.2021 - 15:28
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Karlabos on 23.01.2021 at 15:07

I hope there's a non-metal category. Or two. Or three

Yeah, that will probably never happen. Closest we have are the hard rock, ambient, alternative and hardcore categories which can feature some artists that aren't really metal.

But metal is less than 10% of the music out there and we still a dozen categories for it. You can't just shove the other 90% in one or two or three others.
----
Jusqu'ici, tout va bien...

2021 goodies
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23.01.2021 - 15:44
Karlabos
Weirdo of MS
Written by RaduP on 23.01.2021 at 15:28

Written by Karlabos on 23.01.2021 at 15:07

I hope there's a non-metal category. Or two. Or three

Yeah, that will probably never happen. Closest we have are the hard rock, ambient, alternative and hardcore categories which can feature some artists that aren't really metal.

But metal is less than 10% of the music out there and we still a dozen categories for it. You can't just shove the other 90% in one or two or three others.

Yeah I know.

I just wish there was a site like this for non-metal stuff
----
Rose is red, violet is blue. Flag is win, Baba is you.
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23.01.2021 - 15:46
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Karlabos on 23.01.2021 at 15:44

Yeah I know.

I just wish there was a site like this for non-metal stuff

Like... RYM?
----
Jusqu'ici, tout va bien...

2021 goodies
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