Sentient Ruin, Trill Kommand, Shove Records and The Path Less Traveled Records have pooled their resources together to bring together this whopping 7″ featuring tracks from Oakland, California’s Augurs and Deathgrave. This four track split packs a wallop, with Deathgrave serving three helpings of gritty powerviolence with the sludgy, blackened moodiness of Augurs offering the arguable main course. Clocking in at nine minutes, these tracks are busy within that span, offering diverse meditations of sonic discomfort, with each outfit’s offering no less vicious than the other.
Augurs offers the lone track “From Maggots to Fly,” a four-minute lethal dose of jarring panic that escalates into a sinister case of euphoria. The drums are the most pummeling, with the snare’s thunderous gallop swallowing the swarm-like guitars. The pace is break-neck for the track’s first half, while it is punctuated by stabbing melodies, the vocals signaling the anguish induced. For much of “From Maggots to Fly” the vocals are shrill, as if spewed by an Orcish opera singer, hissing and gurgling as the track descends from chaos into bleak pondering. The bass covers the track like a foreboding storm cloud, its coal-like hail hammering over the nail-biting guitars. The riffs are rife with desperation as they crawl through the weighty sludge, the vocals issuing a collective distaste before fading into a wall of white haze.
Deathgrave‘s first track, “Brutal,” moves in the opposite direction of “From Maggots to Fly,” with its opening bass-heavy and brooding while its center is filled to the brim with choking powerviolence. The track’s ending bass lines tip toe on leaden shoes, endowed with a devilishly sneaky tone. The nicely titled “Hugged in Half” does just that, with its D-beat and grindcore anatomy slowly coming together like a pair of rusted scissors, although this also makes the track the split’s one repetitive moment. Though it does not match the abridged sucker punch of “From Maggots to Fly” and “Brutal,” the Deathgrave’s last contribution, “Inquisitive Apathy,” is still caustic breath of fresh air. The drums are teeth-rattling, while the rasping guitars repeatedly strike until the whole mouth is wet bone. The vocals throughout Deathgrave’s half morph from slithering hisses on “Brutal” to a crushed-larynx hardcore-like shout on “Hugged in Half.” The two styles make the tracks uneven, if not sounding as if they were from different artists entirely. The third tracks succeeds in fusing these styles together, though much of this can be owed to the tangible unpleasantness of the guitars.
While Augurs offers the split’s most consistent, towering piece, Deathgrave’s success lies in the bloody-grinned honesty of their tracks, with each endowed with its own identity, no matter how they may clash when the whole collection is considered.