Divide and ConquerWhen I described the concept of a split to my wife, she was flabbergasted. For the kind of music most people are aware of, it doesn't make any kind of sense. The artist always has some kind of deep pockets backing them, so they don't need to band together with another artist to fund some minor release.
With the increasing affordability of studio time and the ease of web-based distribution, the practical, affordability reasons for split releases have all but disappeared. Yet they are a deeply-ingrained part of the extreme music landscape. The fan cross-pollination and creative collaborations are still staples, and, it must be admitted, there's still a sort of underground cred that goes along with it.
Alaric/Atriarch: Alaric/Atriach Split LP (2012)
Alaric is, apparently, a deathrock band. I've heard the term before, but don't know anything about this particular branch of punk music. Their sound is very bass-oriented, with guitars not too far from those of Negative Plane or Occultation. There's also a strong Pink Floyd vibe here, and I'm calling to mind a few things from the soundtrack to The Crow, where this would have fit nicely. The Alaric side of the split begins mostly in the same vibe, but the psychedelic aspect is diminished, replaced by metal. The balance of the split goes into some seriously awesome doom/post-black metal, so the whole thing is a gradual transition that really works well. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
Buy the Alaric/Atriarch split
While Greece and Canada are, I don't know, probably dozens of miles away from each other, the musical stylings of Dephosphorus and Wake couldn't be more alike. Both play furious grinding hardcore of the kind that's palatable to metalheads like me. The only problem with this record (which comes with a download code) is that they were obviously not mixed by the same person, with the Wake side sounding much quieter. Still, it's cool, with the opening track from the Dephosphorus side and closing track from the Wake side being great bookends. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.
(I couldn't find an embed for this album, so check this out instead.)
7 Degrees Records
If a split is kvlt, then a cassette split is uber-kvlt. Or is it? Case in point: Disequilibrium of the Ecliptic Plane, a split between Kallathon and Volahn. To put it as succinctly as possible, neither band would be booed off the stage at a Deafheaven show. They both tend toward high-pitched riffs (which has the nice added effect of making the bass relatively audible) and have some progressive ideas about songwriting. The two bands are quite similar, but Kallathon has longer songs, somewhat slower tempos, and growl/grunt vocals, whereas Volahn is more black metal orthodox in those respects. It's very interesting, and quite good. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.