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Splitting Hairs / Hearing Splits (Jan-Jun 2023)


Written by: RaduP, musclassia, nikarg, Starvynth
Published: July 24, 2023
 


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 2021. 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 2022 Part 2
SH/HS 2022 Part 1
SH/HS 2021 Part 2






Fit For An Autopsy / Thy Art Is Murder / Malevolence - The Aggression Sessions


The Aggression Sessions, featuring Fit For An Autopsy, Thy Art Is Murder and Malevolence, comes 7 years after The Depression Sessions, which featured The Acacia Strain in the place of Malevolence. If the intentions of these Nuclear Blast sessions is to cover the 5 stages of grief, then they’re going in the wrong order, as depression definitely is meant to come after anger. The two releases follow the same template; the first 3 tracks are 1 original song from each group, and the latter 3 are 1 cover from each group. As far as the originals go, each group does a decent job of highlighting why they’re such hot properties within the metalcore/deathcore scenes at the present time, although Fit For An Autopsy’s “Hellions” stands out strongest by far for me, comprised of a solid mix of brutality, technicality, groove and sinister atmosphere. Moving onto the covers, FFAA and TYIM do respectable but very straight covers of “Under A Serpent Sun” by At The Gates and Cannibal Corpse’s “Hammer Smashed Face”, respectively; Malevolence mix things up with a heavy-fied rendition of early 2000s pop staple “Left Outside Alone” by Anastasia. While I appreciate them attempting a cover that requires a bit more reworking on the covering band’s end than the other two, I must admit I find the clean singing on this to be rather offputting.

Bandcamp: Fit For An Autopsy (full)

by musclassia






Twisted Tower Dire / Cauldron Born - Knights Of True Metal


Nameless Grave Records has released, for the very first time on vinyl, the cult demos Triumphing True Metal (1997) and Beyond The Shade Gates (1997) by Twisted Tower Dire and Cauldron Born respectively. The split comes with liner notes for each side, a high quality vinyl master, and great new artwork. The music on here is great; it is timeless, and uncompromising heavy metal / U.S. power metal, created in a decade when this kind of sound was largely ignored, but it has now risen again and has regained the respect it deserves. The recordings are far from immaculate -these are demos after all- but they certainly convey the passion and energy of the bands. Twisted Tower Dire's contribution to this split encompasses all the material featuring Janet Rubin on vocals, including the original Triumphing True Metal demo and "Starflight Requiem" from the 1998 Metal Injection compilation. On the other side of this split, you will find the introductory recordings of the project that would later evolve into Cauldron Born, still credited under Howie Bentley's name at the time. These recordings were accomplished with the assistance of session musicians, fulfilling the roles that Howie himself could not. Notably, this compilation stands as the sole Cauldron Born recording featuring Bentley on bass, making it unique.

Bandcamp: Label (full)

by nikarg






Nerver / Chat Pile - Brothers In Christ


The brand of noise rock that is bordering on sludge metal has been around for a while, but it feels like it's getting more attention from the metal side of the spectrum lately, and a lot of it is due to the success of Chat Pile's monolithic God's Country. Having another band match Chat Pile's energy is always a challenge, but Nerver do a pretty good job beyond just sitting at the same genre intersection. Opener "Kick In The Sky" sounds like such a huge and intense slab of noisy bass that the singer gets to scream over, while "The Nerve" gets to up the pace a bit. What Nerver lack in tongue-in-cheek humor, they make up for in intense noise. The two Chat Pile tracks sound like God's Country B-sides, leaning a bit more on the band's post-punk side and staying in more slower paces, with "Cut" feeling a bit better developed than "King", capturing the exasperation that the band is so great at delivering through their music.

Bandcamp: Chat Pile (full) / Label (full)

by RaduP






Endtime / Cosmic Reaper - Doom Sessions Vol. VII


There was a time when I expected these articles to eventually be 90% comprised of Doom Sessions entries; remarkably, after 4 releases in the first half of 2021, the series of splits from Heavy Psych Sounds Records was left on the backburner for a couple of years, until Vol. VII emerged back in January. Featuring Endtime and Cosmic Reaper, this entry falls more towards the stoner doom end of the spectrum that these releases have covered, particularly due to Cosmic Reaper’s three contributions. With hazy vocals, warm fuzzy guitar tones, and Sabbath-style licks, these tracks are very much geared towards those people that have listened to stoner metal for the last 20 years and not yet got bored with straightforward approaches to the style. While offering nothing in terms of originality, the likes of “King Of Kings” are fun genre efforts. Endtime are the more notable of the duo here, however; opening song “Tunnel Of Life” has an intriguing mix of dense doom guitars combined with dramatic synth and choral layers, producing an end result that lies somewhere between ‘occult’ and ‘fantasy’ in terms of sound. “Beyond The Black Void” opts for a more conventional stoner/sludge/doom trudge, eschewing the electronics, but the manic vocal barks offer another dash of intrigue.

Bandcamp: Label (full)

by musclassia






Ggu:ll / Terzij De Horde - Van Grond


One of the most interesting sets of Roadburn 2022 was the one that opened the last day, namely a sort of collaborative set between Terzij De Horde and Ggu:ll, where there were moments when only one of the bands was on stage and moments when both bands were on stage, and I've been wondering whether that would eventually find its way in studio setting. Well, Van Grond seems to be the result of that, with songs done by each band and songs done together, which is a very underrated kind of split album. Though I was hoping the end result would be longer than the 18 minutes is currently has, it is very interesting how the bands play around with their black and doom metal styles in order to find common ground and create a very dynamic blend of the two styles that feels very collaborative even in the songs that are not collaborations per se.

Bandcamp: Terzij De Horde (full) / Ggu:ll (full)

by RaduP






Yashira / Horsewhip


This brief split represents the first activity from Yashira since their MSA-nominated sophomore release Fail To Be in 2020. Fail To Be was visceral savage record, with sludgy bruisers that flirted with post-hardcore and mathcore; their contribution here, “Burial Mound”, features that sludge heft and that mathy complexity merged with one another. The song’s central groove is disorienting in its simultaneous density and off-kilter flow, and the song only becomes progressively more frantic and jagged as it progresses. Horsewhip’s release history up to this point closely resembles that of Yashira (debut album in 2018, sophomore in 2020, this split in 2023), and while “Circadian Rhythm” is more closely tethered to hardcore, there is still some of the fire and complexity of “Burial Mound” present in its DNA. Where Horsewhip deviate from Yashira is in integrating a degree of levity and atmosphere in the song’s second half, cleaning up the guitar tones a tad and letting the drums go to town on the toms. At less than 7 minutes in total, hopefully this split is just a preamble to some more substantial bodies of work from both groups.

Bandcamp: Label (full)

by musclassia






It is customary to have at least one OSDM split in these articles, and this one by Undergang and Spectral Voice is gonna be the one this time. Neither bands are strangers to this feature, but it's Undergang that had the most showings appearing three separate times. Spectral Voice, the less prolific of the two bands, but also the most highly anticipated as far as new material goes, also had a song in one split I already covered, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't most excited about the prospect of a new 13 minute long track by the guys. My patience for Undergang's kind of OSDM is running thin, but they manage to remain entertaining with their gurly vocals. Spectral Voice however really take their time with the monolithic "Craving Final Impasse", something that often feels more in line with funeral doom than mere death doom for half its runtime, standing in start contrast with the more fun side that preceded it.

Bandcamp: Undergang (side) / Label (full)

by RaduP






Abyssal / Ellorsith - Sepulchorporeal / Amore


It’s now been 4 years since an Abyssal release, but for the second edition in a row they have a split to fill the void. Last time out, they were competing with Tchornobog to see who could come up with the most epic, monolithic odyssey of dissonant death metal; on Sepulchorporeal / Amore, their new split with Ellorsith, their writing is slightly more restrained. Abyssal’s contributions are still evil and maddening, but at 6 minutes apiece, their two songs compact all that sinister dissonant energy into more digestible forms. They’ve lost none of their charm, though; “Sepulchorporeal (Ipatiev IV)” in particular impresses in how it evolves from demented origins to an ending that is bordering on triumphant with its twisted sense of melody. Ellorsith’s style is comparable to Abyssal, but the enigmatic group have a slower, doomier aspect to their sound, with less chaos underpinning the oddball and dissonant sounds found with “Elena De Hoyos” and “Carl Von Cosel”.

Bandcamp: Label (full)

by musclassia






Thecodontion / Ceremented


Thecodontion’s dual-bass approach to death metal has already received positive commentary from Radu, both in his review of their debut album and subsequently when covering their split with Vessel Of Iniquity for a previous edition of this article series. This time around, it’s me getting stuck into their prehistoric-themed musical madness, as they join forces with Ceremented. Thecodontion’s primitive sound, in which two basses churn out war metal riffs in tandem with dungeon synth keyboards (a new feature for this release) and old-school rabid death metal vocals, is certainly original, and it’s also quite catchy on tracks such as “Trilobite” and “Hallucigenia”, which feel positively triumphant at times. Ceremented do not feel triumphant; an ominous introduction to their half of the split in the form of “Kontinuum” heralds the arrival of monstruous, cacophonic death metal replete with deep low-end gnarl. Their first couple of ‘proper’ songs go all-out speedwise, but the final track on the record, “Disease.Death.Kontrol (Contravene Of Death's Hand)”, is a grim, churning, doomy affair.

Bandcamp: Thecodontion (full) / Ceremented (full)

by musclassia






Fistula / Religios Observance / Gâinsayër


As if often the case with splits, there's one band out of the ones present that one has more familiarity with. I like splits between bands I'm familiar with, but there is some merit in these ones that can act as a springboard towards discovering more bands. Fistula have been around for more that two decades, and have put out numerous splits as well, and very rarely were those with bands I have heard of beforehand. That's the case here, with the nearly decade old Religious Observance and the very very recent and still in the EP phase Gâinsayër. With three bands and nearly 50 minutes of runtime, this one feels more like an album proper, just one in which the sludge of the three bands is slightly different enough to notice, but gels just well enough that it just feels either slightly groovier or more malevolent, depending on the band.

Bandcamp: Religios Observence (side) / Label (full)

by RaduP






We had plans to include a whole other Gnaw Their Tongues split in this article, with a writeup written by a whole other author, but that turned into an actual main page review. Luckily, we can still have a Gnaw Their Tongues split in this edition, as a month later the project also released a split with Italian sludge band Sator. Being both of pretty much LP length at 40 minutes of runtime and a very odd pairing means that there's a lot going for this split. The bands have common ground in making metal that revels in its atmospheric side, but Gnaw Their Tongues feel pretty transcendental in their approach here, often relinquishing the metal aspect entirely to create choir filled drones that can get noisy but feel more akin to something by Golden Ashes (also a Mories project), Am Himmel, or even The Angelic Process. Meanwhile Sator feel like a slightly groovier atmospheric stoner sludge metal band, something not too dissimilar to High On Fire or Conan, which is something great in its own right, but a very steep contrast when the two sides get put together.

Bandcamp: Gnaw Their Tongues side / Sator side

by RaduP






Crowning / Eyelet


Zegema Beach Records have been pushing out quite a few split releases in the past 6 months; on top of the sonic violence found on the Yashira/Horsewhip split, there’s also been a 4-Way Split of math, hard, and other types of core, and also this effort featuring Crowning and Eyelet. The former don’t stick around, their 2 contributions to the split lasting for a combined 3 minutes; said 3 minutes contain chaotic hardcore with a skramz/emo edge. Eyelet, like the other artists, have roots in some form of -core, but their hardcore is slower and grimmer, exhibiting elements of noise rock and sludge as they serve up a bleaker, more insidious form of aural aggression.

Bandcamp: Label (full)

by musclassia






Sadness (USA) / Abriction


Sadness (USA) (not to be mistaken for the mostly inactive Swiss gothic doom Sadness) is the very active project of one very prolific Damián Antón Ojeda, whose span of projects is far larger than what we currently have featured on Metal Storm. Even if his Trhä project has been getting some rounds, it is still the Sadness (USA) one that is most recognizable, and to prove the prolific point, there have already been five split albums by the band, though two of those released in July thus they don't qualify for this edition. Out of these, it is the one with the equally prolific Abriction that seems to have gotten most attention (as in over a thousand ratings on RYM whereas the other ones didn't even scratch two hundred). That said, this split is pretty massive at 75 minutes, with all of the five tracks exceeding ten minutes. There's a little bit of black metal in the vocals and the riffing, especially but not relegated to Sadness (USA)'s side, with the rest of it being more of an emo shoegaze album that really relies on the emotional weight of the walls of sound, and both bands get very out there with the dynamics of the walls of sound in a way that reminds of something like Have A Nice Life. I came in expecting to prefer the first side, but I ended up liking the last (and biggest) song most.

Bandcamp: Sadness (full)

by RaduP






If you thought Sadness (USA) was really prolific with five splits this year, wait until you hear Damián Antón Ojeda's other band, Trhä (not to be mistaken for Thra), which has a whooping nine splits this year. There was a real danger of this feature turning into "Keeping up with Ojeda's release schedule", so instead I decided to select one split from each of these two projects. There were some tempting ones with Sanguine Wounds and Sëht, but it was pretty obvious that I would pick the one with Μνήμα (read Mnima) simply because of how amazingly edgy Disciples of Excremental Liturgies was. As for this split, this retains the very odious wall of sound production, but keeps things more within the realm of very oppressive black metal. Think distant yet blood curdling shrieks, guitars that sound that blizzards yet still manage to create hypnotic riffs, and drums that feel more anxiety inducing than pummeling. Μνήμα's atmosphere is more cavernous and dense, with the vocal side especially being more on the ominous and almost theatrical side compared to the despair inducing shrieks of Trhä.

Bandcamp: Trhä (full) / Μνήμα (full)

by RaduP






Salqiu / Sjálfsmorð Af GáleysiSPLITting Headache


A split is not a real album, it's just the leftovers that didn't make it onto the last full-length album! - Anyone approaching the joint work of Salqiu and Sjálfsmorð Af Gáleysi with this expectation will be more than pleasantly surprised, because SPLITting Headache is in no way inferior to a full-fledged studio album, and that's not only due to the consistently excellent production. Both bands contribute two songs each, but offer only one of their own tracks plus a composition of the other project on their Bandcamp. The fact that each of the four songs lasts exactly 666 seconds reinforces the impression that these are not just randomly thrown together tracks, but the inseparable parts of a well thought-out synthesis of the arts. Both projects showcase their very own and characteristic interpretation of black metal, but complement each other very well, and that's precisely because of their different approaches. While the Icelandic one-man band Sjálfsmorð Af Gáleysi represents the more dissonant and chaotic side of the death/black metal spectrum, Brazil-based project Salqiu explores the atmospheric realms of avant-garde black metal with unusual instruments and acoustic interludes. However, the contributions of both bands are eerie, haunting and unsettling in equal measure.

Bandcamp: Label (full) / Thunderclap side / Cluster side

by Starvynth






Kaatayra / Pessimista


Caio Lemos has emerged as one of the most interesting musicians out of the metal scene of the past couple of years, with both of the warm jungle black metal of Kaatayra and the more electronica focused Bríi having felt independently visionary before it was revealed that they were both helmed by one person. A more collaborative nature appeared later with the prog black metal of Vauruvã and the synthpop of Rasha (with the bandmate from that project, Raíssa Matos, contributing vocals on this split), so it was a matter of time before a split would happen. Listening to Kaatayra's "Boca que se Engole" is such a weird experience after how serene the last album felt, but hearing that this is a leftover track from 2019-2020 makes more sense, with how muscular the distorted riffing on this feels like comparatively. Pessimista's "Uirá Sai À Procura De Maíra" relies a lot on its concept, of drawing parallels between the book of the same name and how Brazil's society of today still participates in genocide against indigenous people, with the music as intense and despair inducing as a fifteen minute black metal song on this topic could be.

Bandcamp: Kaatayra (full) / Pessimista (full) / Label (full)

by RaduP






Hænesy / Autumn Nostalgie - Awaking Mechanon


From the raw black metal of Shadowrealm Incantations to a more modern interpretation of the genre, Awaking Mechanon sees two blackgaze artists join forces, each contributing a brace of songs filled with blasts, tremolos and ghostly shrieks, but also plenty of delicacy within the guitar textures. Hænesy kick things off with “Through The Storm Of Everlasting Complaints”, which serves as a textbook example of the style, opening with a torrent of melody-tinged aggression before shifting into a serene, melancholic midsection. Autumn Nostalgie’s own contributions are arguably even daintier and oriented towards lighter textures associated with post-rock. I’m slightly more taken with Hænesy’s songs, as I feel there’s a bit more depth and emotion to them, as well as a nice dollop of double bass drumming consistently throughout, but Awaking Mechanon is a solid demonstration of the state of blackgaze in 2023.

Bandcamp: Hænesy (full) / Autumn Nostalgie (full)

by musclassia






Lunar Spells / Order Of Nosferat - Shadowrealm Incantations


It’s quite amazing the extent to which black metal has evolved over the past 3 decades. However, pioneer Euronymous would doubtless be horrified as such desecration of the pure ideals he set out for the genre; if he ever returns as a zombie, perhaps we can give him a copy of Shadowrealm Incantations to convince him that his vision is still alive. This split, featuring Greece’s Lunar Spells and Germany’s Order Of Nosferat, is firmly rooted in the Second Wave lo-fi sound; Order Of Nosferat’s opening contribution, “To The Mountains Of Wallachia”, has icy riffs that are sharp to the senses, and the backing synths are right in the Emperor mould. It’s not a torrent of black metal; Order Of Nosferat’s half of the split is punctuated with dungeon synth interludes such as “Whispers From The Crypt” and “Melodies Echo From The Abandoned Castle”. Lunar Spells have no interest in such detours, relentlessly flying through a trio of raw black metal tracks after a brief organ introduction. Shadowrealm Incantations is a bit too old school for my tastes, but as far as real retro black metal goes, it is a fun listen, so if this is your thing, it’s certainly worth a spin.

Bandcamp: Lunar Spells (full) / Order Of Nosferat only

by musclassia






The Mountain King / Gate To Xibalba


Drone music evokes strong reactions from listeners, in the form of either adoration or disdain. This style requires full immersion and commitment, as the listening experience can be lengthy, and this is the case with this 40-minute, 2-track split. It is common for many to struggle to invest in this type of music, as it doesn’t offer immediate gratification, but persistence is the key for a remarkable payoff. The Mountain King and Gate To Xibalba have approached this split with a mindset of investment and reward, in the sense that both bands here demand a certain level of dedication from the listener. Both tracks develop gradually, with rich layers of textures and tones, slowly but firmly enveloping the listener. The hypnotic repetition, which is a signature of the style, erases the concept of time, with the purpose of becoming lost in the music. This is a chance to embark on a journey into the world of sound and textures with the collaboration of two very talented acts, who meet at the crossroads of drone metal. It is a gateway to a world of contradictions where powerful drone guitars blend seamlessly with ambient noise, while crushing riffs cut through the waves to create moments of deafening silence in space.

Bandcamp: Label (full)

by nikarg






Christian Cosentino / Winterquilt - Portals To Perdition


I was quite impressed by Christian Cosentino’s High Rising Times back in 2022; the Australian crafted a peculiar spin on meloblack with a glorious warmth to the sound layers meshing behind the explosive blasts, along with some odd electronic melodies and motifs. It was certainly imperfect in its execution, but it nonetheless drew one’s attention; Cosentino’s contributions to Portals To Perdition are similarly intriguing in how they mesh blissful soundscapes with deeply embedded ‘black’ metal in a manner that does not resemble blackgaze, but the quasi-dungeon synth electronics are arguably even more pronounced in the mix this time around. Elements of “Oceans Over” bear some resemblance to a more tenacious Midnight Odyssey or fantastical Mesarthim. Cosentino’s companion on this split, Winterquilt, have an extremely contrasting take on music; opening effort “Bring Out Your Dead” is arguably most accurately classified as cybergrind, featuring an onslaught of synthetic blasts, churning growls, gnarly riffs, all of which are capped with chaotic electronica that at one point jumps right into dancefloor techno. Honestly, while I recognize the split as featuring two musicians dabbling with fusions of extreme metal and electronic sounds, their approaches are so starkly different that they don’t really click together here, and while I enjoy some of Cosentino’s contributions, Winterquilt is unquestionably not for me.

Bandcamp: Christian Cosentino side / Label (full)

by musclassia






Nymphrenia / Vanessa Funke - Lonely Suicide


With a name like Lonely Suicide, it probably wouldn’t be surprising to discover that there is some DSBM to be found in this split, although perhaps not as much as you would expect. The two contributing artists are two one-person projects, Nymphrenia and Vanessa Funke; there’s slightly more information available about the German Funke, and she’s also arguably the more intriguing contributor here. Nymphrenia absolutely come from the world of DSBM, with their two songs slow, lengthy trudges through atmospheres shrouded in despair conveyed by the pained vocals. Funke’s music contains some black metal, but it’s closer to meloblack or even blackgaze, moving at a swifter pace and with some brighter tremolo melodies, as well as containing occasional riffs with more of a melodeath slant, such as on “Zeilen Der Einsmakeit” (even if this song overall is arguably closest of all the Funke tracks to Nymphrenia’s DSBM). This is not Funke’s only collaborative release in 2023; only this July, a split with Luroga dropped, although you’ll have to wait until the next edition to read about it.

Bandcamp: Nymphrenia (full) / Vanessa Funke (full)

by musclassia




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





Comments

Comments: 4   Visited by: 34 users
24.07.2023 - 13:26
nikarg
Staff
Yay, splits!
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24.07.2023 - 16:34
musclassia
Staff
I didn't know that the Ggu:ll/Terzij De Horde Roadburn set had been translated into a studio album, definitely queuing that up (and now only really waiting for Full Of Nothing and Hangman's Chair/RLHT albums from Roadburn 2022). Abyssal again cooked up something great this time around, that split is probably the pick of the bunch for me, although Yashira/Horsewhip could have contended if a bit longer
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10.08.2023 - 19:25
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Good music inteting to read, as always.
My winner is
Twisted Tower Dire / Cauldron Born - Knights Of True Metal
----
I stand whit Ukraine and Israel. They have right to defend own citizens.

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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10.08.2023 - 19:41
nikarg
Staff
Written by Bad English on 10.08.2023 at 19:25

My winner is
Twisted Tower Dire / Cauldron Born - Knights Of True Metal

Mine too. What an awesome release.
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