Friday, May 18, 2012

Metal Briefs: Splitsville

Divide and Conquer

When 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

Dephosphorus/Wake: Dephosphorus/Wake Split 7" (2012)

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

Kallathon/Volahn: Disequilibrium of the Ecliptic Plane (2011)

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.

Crepusculo Negro


  1. I love splits and have done several posts on them. I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. My preference is when two bands of widely disparate styles do a split.

  2. the wake/dephosphorus split is great. dephosphorus continue to get better and better.

    also i can't get some people to understand the concept of a 7-inch. more than a single/less than album.

  3. @ Metallattorney: I've only recently begun to accumulate some splits. It's not something I had done previously. I really, really like the Alaric/Atriarch one because they display a common thread, but then distinguish themselves.

    @ Andrew Childers: It's not exactly the kind of thing I listen to a lot of, and I really went back and forth on whether I would give it a 3 or 3.5. I think I turned my computer back on and went in to edit the post a couple times before I published, and then almost changed it again after publication. It is good, but that production thing makes it tough for me, and, like I said, not my normal thing.

    Would it be fair to say a 7" is just a vinyl-specific name for an EP?

  4. when i say ep, people just look at me blankly.

  5. You need to seek out Christian Death's Only Theatre of Pain... pretty much death rock ground zero. The Alaric I've heard had a pretty strong Killing Joke vibe as well.

    I believe 7" refers to the size of the vinyl as opposed to a 12" or 10" moreso than the length. Some grindcore bands could probably squeeze a whole album's worth of material onto a 7" whereas the average death or black metal band might get 2 - 4 songs on there at the most, so I suppose it's all relative though. That said, plenty of EPs have been released on 12"s or 10"s, so I tend to think of 7"s more as singles.

  6. I've already got another deathrock review coming down the pike, but it wouldn't hurt to find the roots of the genre.

    Yeah, 7" is the size I would think (I don't want to sound like I actually know anything about it, because I don't) but I would think it's usually equivalent to an EP. It's all in whatever you want to call it, though. The line between single and EP, or EP and LP, is not well-delineated.

  7. I have a few 7" records from the very early 90s (including prime Anthrax, Slayer and Nirvana) and they were always singles, one song each side and played at 45rpm and they were indeed 7 inches in diameter.

    12" were usually 33rpm for albums and 45rpm for singles and EPs.

    I still have a Sonic Youth 10" blue vinyl single somewhere.