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Apocalyptic Blues

CVLT NATION’S Top Six Splits of 2012


Right now, I feel like I have the power to look inside of the darkest emotion and discover the truth about what keeps my mind balanced. I’m blasting the new split between PLANKS // LENTIC WATERS that will be out sometime this June via three different labels: Apocaplexy Records & React With Protest (Europe) and IFB Records (US). What’s extra stellar about this record is that both even though both bands are different, their sound goes so well together. This split has imprisoned my being behind a majestic wall of half urban, half amazing melody that washes over me in waves. The Planks’ side consists of three compositions that are an unreal storm of fragile strength and a sense of urgency that is tempered with rage. Their songwriting is beyond fantastic – maybe this why I have this split on repeat! When you hear “It Fell To The Snakes,” you realize how far this band has come. The melodic riptides in that song will pull you under and drown you in radness, with just a little bit of epic sadness flowing through it. Lentic Waters know how weave together cinematic atmospheric soundscapes with majestic aggro outbursts in a way that will get your attention. Again, I’m pretty blown away by how good these humans are at writing songs, because with each listen you will hear something new. The thing about Lentic Waters is it’s not just about what is happening in your ears, it’s also about how their songs touch your spirit. They have a way of speaking about the human condition with the tones they play with their instruments. As a body of work, this PLANKS // LENTIC WATERS split is fucking stellar, and a record that will age well in your collection. So you really know what you are in store for, check out a preview of this record below.

5.FALSE/Barghest Split Review

Both bands made heads turn last year with vinyl releases from Wisconsin-based Gilead Media, and the label is wasting no time nurturing their talents with this highly-anticipated split. While the groups have had short careers and a limited number of shows under their bullet belts, they write music with the confidence and fury of musicians who have been working together for decades.

Only the third track FALSE have ever recorded, “Heavy as a Church Tower” is a monstrous, hate-filled work that churns its way through sensible insanity and features some of the best drumming in black metal today. Vocalist Rachel’s haunting shrieks swirl effortlessly through the madness, each breath more powerful than the last. With their lengthiest offering to date, it’s clear they understand the complexities of long-form tracks and know how to keep the listener’s attention from waning. The band’s relentless, high-speed passages never grow tiresome as the guitars cycle through vicious melodies that either explode and dissipate in an instant, or grow and contort into multi-dimensional beasts. Like their 2011 EP, the keyboards add much with little without straying into symphonic territory. The track is both hauntingly familiar and uniquely original.

Hailing from Baton Rouge, Barghest is everything FALSE is not. The band sticks to a different spectrum of black metal, with their two tracks worshipping influences from the low-fi and underground scenes. They play straightforward, raw grimness that sounds like it was ripped screaming from the bayou, still dripping with soggy filth. Gutteral vocals occasionally make their appearance to add to the overall terror of the band’s ugly sound and the muddy production only adds to their intrigue, forcing you to listen intently for every twisted note and rotten fill. Never-ending tremolo buzzings entangle you in their desiccated grip and don’t let go until you’re gasping for a breath. This is dirt worship in the best possible way.

Split by Barghest/False

4.JK Flesh / Prurient Split – “Worship Is The Cleansing Of Imagination” Review

This record is vile. This record sounds like crushed teeth. The texture of the sounds on this record are the same as sex dripping latex. This record pulverizes with the intensity of a collapsing steel column. This record is fucking fantastic. WORSHIP IS THE CLEANSING OF IMAGINATION, the split between JK Flesh and Prurient is the new and final Hydra Head release. JK Flesh is the new solo project (but haven’t they all been solo projects?) of Justin Broadrick, the enterprising mastermind behind Godflesh and Jesu, as if you didn’t already know that. JK Flesh is far more beat driven, drawing on Berlin and Detroit house and bearing more similarity to DJ Sprinkles then Techno Animal. Still keeping it steeped in prismatic mystery, the guitar lurks around each corner and never really bears down on you, yet you’re always aware of it’s existence.

Prurient is the main entity of Dominick Fernow, the iconically prolific noise/metal/synth/techno/you-name-it artist who as of recently has been focusing more and more of his attention on his new 9/11-drenched conspiracy project Vatican Shadow. But leave it to Dominick to break from one style and completely plunge back into form on a dime. Anyone looking for the sequel to Bermuda Drain should look elsewhere, as this has more similarities to Oxidation or Colonialist Nature And Misanthropy. The noise leaks and squeals in a pure onslaught of absolute brutalism electronic composition.

Opening track “Fear Of Fear” pounds like a million tank rounds. An NHK Dance Classics style beat belies the cruelty of the guitar as it lunges for your ear drum with repeated penetration. It opens with a distant and near martial drum beat that soon molds and melts into a completely industrial pattern, like Coil at their most danciest. Justin Broadrick’s long distorted roars puncture the landscape of tonal abuse, all the while locking step with bass death prodding you forward. It breaks from it’s primal stance to open in to pure dance mode for a mere second before resuming the onslaught of abusive beats.  As soon as the pattern starts again you are aware of what you’re in for.

Track 2,  the aptly titled “Deceiver” opens with a freezing cold synth line, fitting for an ancient cathedral and the sound of slicing cymbals before bursting into a spastic Techno fit, with a menacing guitar line garroting the synth the whole way through, this could easily fill a dance floor before clearing desolate all in about 5 minutes.

                                                                                        JK FLESH

It’s “Obedient Automaton” that truly shines on this side though. The final of the three JK Flesh contributions, Obedient Automaton spreads and unfurls like a time lapse of a rotting deer. It begins in sub-space, a motorik bass rhythm moves restlessly from speaker to speaker, while feedback and the sound of metal on metal storms down the hall. A brutish bass octave acts as the falling flag to herald all sound outward. The song is as cinematic as it is menacing. It moves forward, and mows down whatever stands in its way, bones crushing under the squealing Power Electronic pistons before a incomprehensible and buried vocal sample breaks the morass and offers a bit of fleeting clarity before the final howl of crushing feedback sucks back into the abyss and ends this tour of terror.



Prurient begins his sonic assault in a slow calculated advance. This is recognizable Prurient, but not to say unsurprising. Prurient has partially made a name for himself in the power electronics scene for not so much relying on crushing feedback and distortion, but ambience. The threat of silence, the threat of quietness. It’s more predatory then assaulting and Chosen Books, his first contribution is proof positive of that. It gurgles from the circle, with a low lying synth meditatively sweeping across a soundscape of broken glass and buzz saws. A repeated sound sample that bends into obscurity chanting “Chosen…we are all” as it continues to collapse more and more into cacophony. By the end of the 5 minute blitz the track is mangled beyond recognition.

Entering The Water begins with a sound like a fly trapped in a jar along with a throbbing conga (that makes it sound more light than it is). These two sounds are the only stalwarts of the whole track as it builds in to a more and more frenzied state with distant high pitched noises that flutter in and out. It seems like a jungle excursion to get you to the temple buried deep in obscurity, the closing track.

 I Understand You is the last track on the last Hydra Head release, presumably forever. For years Hydra Head has been the vanguard of extreme music and this final piece, this requiem for the extreme bridges the generational gap.  I Understand You is a beautiful and terrifying insurrection of this dichotomy. The synth line is soothing and nebulous, allowing you to drift amongst the stars, or through ancient halls, but beneath that, rumbling low before rising well into the stratos is the power electronics component, screaming into your ear, reminding you of all the pain inflicted on this earth, a unifier and purifier. The feedback and squeals never quite reach fever pitch, nor does the disconnected maudlin synth line ever resolve, and that seems to be the point. The drifting end of all things.  There is something truly morose here, not just in aesthete or the obvious nature of the genre, but something nostalgic. It’s almost as if Dominick created this song to be the last song on the last album released by such an influential label and in truth, it’s a glorious send off. There is not a moment amiss here. Regardless of your genre leanings, there will be something here for you, which is a testament in it of itself to Hydra Head. Catalogue number HYH-236-1 is the violent, dramatic, taxing, brilliant and golden final transmission of Hydra Head Records. I wouldn’t recommend it, I would demand it.

3.Review of Alaric/Atriarch split on 20 Buck Spin by Oliver Sheppard

Alaric-Atriarch SplitThe release of the 5-song, split 12″ between Alaric and Atriarch on May 15, 2012 marks an interesting turn-of-the-page in what we may well be able to call the second deathrock revival. (I put the dates of the first revival at a debatable 1998 until about 2004, from the establishment of Release the Bats in Los Angeles until the over-saturation of cartoony “deathrocker as alt-model” imagery that followed the dissolution of great bands like the Subtonix and Phantom Limbs, and which came part and parcel with the lamentable rise of comic book bands like the Cruxshadows and AFI — both bands whose music was and is embarrassing.) The Atriarch-Alaric split contains 5 songs total, and label 20 Buck Spin has made two of those songs available on Youtube. (See below). The Atriarch-Alaric split 12″ split is highly recommended.

Alaric are a product of the Bay Area through and through: the band’s pedigree includes members from bands like Noothgrush, Dead and Gone, and fellow dark punkers Cross Stitched Eyes (who also have an LP coming out soon on Alternative Tentacles). Alaric’s bassist played in a band with Dave Ed of Neurosis (The Enemies). These ingredients do all come through, somehow — mainly in the dark and funereal overtones of Alaric’s sound on their three songs here, buoyed by the excellent, stomping, and dirge-like drumming of Jason Willer. Willer’s work on the skins is part tribal war dance, part funeral march.

Alaric’s Myspace page notes the band was formed in 2008 to “thoroughly investigate the textures, energies and vibrations of dark, guitar-driven music influenced by the Post-Punk and Death Rock that [the band members] loved so much,” and indeed the band’s Facebook page cites the influence of bands like Rudimentary Peni, Christian Death, Killing Joke, and Part 1. Although you can detect these influences in the mix, Alaric really are putting their own, unique stamp onto things. The music is mournful and gloomy, even downtempo at times (as in the third track, “Weep”), but is nonetheless compelling; the grooves are heavy and stomping, but are mediated by melancholic — even, at times, simply beautiful — melodies, especially in the second Alaric track, “So Far Down.” Lachrymal tones are wrung from the guitar, sometimes hinting at a spectral Eva O. (Superheroines) influence; these tones are wrought forth by way of a relentless application of flanger effects, and a soupy, inky, murky black atmosphere is created. One experiences an immersion in watery black textures as if drawn welcomingly into a drowning, slowly swirling, abyss. Alaric are a powerful unit and these 3 songs form a unique bookend to last year’s highly recommended self-titled LP, also on 20 Buck Spin, as here the band slow things down just a notch and introduce a new level of introspective complexity into their work. Dark, dark, dark. Dark, and nuanced. And damned good!

Atriarch, on the flip side, also bring some elements to the table that show an evolution in their sound. When you look at the band’s Myspace page, they classify themselves as a “Gothic / Metal / Punk” band and their Facebook page cites Christian Death and, appropriately, The Swans. In fact, the Atriarch track “Oblivion” (see below) has a a very clear Christian Death influence, and one can easily imagine the band playing in a lineup with Christian Death and Red Wedding in the heyday of the early 80s deathrock scene of Hollywood. Yes! There is an off-kilter, sort of deranged, vibe emanating from the two Atriarch tracks; just when the songs hook you in with the eerie atmospherics they explode into a kind of contemptuous, sneering shock attack, and then retreat quickly backwards into more spooky, theatrical territory. Atriarch are good at playing off the dynamics of this change-up, and as with the Alaric side of the LP, the Ariarch songs show the band developing a more sophisticated and nuanced style.

As with the new LP by Texas band Pinkish Black, which I reviewed earlier, there is an overriding Swans influence at play that cannot be denied. Instead of the glam and campy theatrics of bands like Specimen and Alien Sex Fiend, the take on deathrock that is peddled by Alaric, Atriarch, and Pinkish Black is more of the sort of gloom-heavy, art-damaged, off-kilter sort of dark noise that was made by bands like the early Swans, Part 1, and Rozz Williams’ heavier outings. The percussion on both the Atriarch and Alaric tracks is thunderous and pounding, but it proceeds at a stately, funereal pace. The type of “deathrock” played by Alaric, Atriarch, and Pinkish Black is a new development in the scheme of things. It eschews the cartoon horror rock of bands like Blitzkid or the Horror Pops — which, unfortunately to some, is what deathrock came to mean after about 2005 — and instead takes the term “deathrock” at its face value: rock that really is deathly. In line with that, this is a deliciously harrowing and somber release. It is deathly, melancholy music. It is a welcome sign to see bands explore this sonic territory, and to do it with influences like Neurosis or The Swans hovering so prominently in the background.

2.KATA SARKA & BODDICKER Review + Stream

KATA SARKA once again prove that they can’t be fucked with, because the music they create is on a whole different level of sonic filth! They have a new split with BODDICKER that will be coming out via 18 is 9, and you will be able to lay your hands on it starting Thursday when the Boddicker tour kicks off. Actually, this tape might get split of the year on CVLT Nation, it’s that fucking diseased and ugly. KATA SARKA, fronted by Adam Walker, sounds like zombies high on death gas creating the sickest music our doomed planet has ever heard. The way this band writes is full-on blackened anger that rips away all the lies that society has ever taught us, to reveal the true torment. KATA SARKA’s riffs will dissect your reality with pure speed, and then attack you with serial killer melody that pours out of their insane imagination. I don’t care if you believe me or not, when you hear “Mired In Spleen” wrap around your throat, then you will recognize the greatness of this band! The best way to describe the 5 songs on the KATA SARKA side of the split is to say it’s like having a swarm of locusts invade your body and never leave until they become your forgotten soul.

split w/ Boddicker by Kata Sarka

Then there is the BODDICKER side, that is just a fucking giant stomp of rawness on your skull. Damn, this band’s music does not let up at all, it just gets heavier with every passing second. Imagine if the NAILS gave birth to a whole new kind of demonic groovy rage, that’s only the beginning of how rad this band sounds! BODDICKER’s tunes are fast, urgent, satanic warrior screams that can only be understood by those who have ears to hear! Like KATA SARKA this band are awesome songwriters that know how to punch you in the grill with a healthy dose of rancid melody. This spilt will never fucking bore me – every time I hear it, I just get more excited! This is why there is a very good chance that this split will be on our list at the end of the year. All fellow bloggers out there: spread the word about these two bands. To all of the labels out there: get with it and sign KATA SARKA & BODDICKER fast. Be on the look out for a LITTLE SISTER & KATA SARKA split that’s in the works. Also make sure to check out both of these bands on the upcoming Blackened Everything Mixtape that’s in the pipeline. CVLT Nation salutes everyone involved in creating this killer split…now spread the virus!!!…DOWNLOAD FROM BANDCAMP!!!

split with Kata Sarka by Boddicker

I think it no joke that the Bay Area produces among the best American black metal out there. Deafheaven and Bosse-de-Nage are shining examples of this. The former plays a thoughtful, atmospheric blend of black metal and shoegaze, flavored with powerviolence and hardcore. The latter spins the genre on its head, infusing uncommon craftsmanship for a sound unlike any other.

1.Bay Area Black: Deafheaven/Bosse-de-Nage Split Review

This split is one of the best I’ve ever heard and that’s not just because I’m very partial to Deafheaven’s music. Both tracks refuse to be boring, instead entrancing the user with grandiose passages that are as gentle as they are violent. This is the music fans who have not heard prior material are won with, such ear-catching beauties one cannot help but just gawk wide-eyed at their majestic darkness. Now on to the songs.

Deafheaven has yet to do something that dismays, even with their first new track since “Roads to Judah” being a Mogwai cover. The thing is though is that Mogwai is already great and Deafheaven takes “Punk Rock” and “Cody” and melds them into a seamless, deliriously beautiful ten minutes. Deafheaven’s take on “Cody” opens poignantly, taking its time with tenderness. Once they really kick in it is nothing short of triumphant. Delicate riffs spin in and around each other, rooted by the unyielding tempo behind the kit. The guitars and bass push their strings to the limit, channeling all manner of elegance and fury. At 7:20 the melody surges to a celestial crescendo, a moment that might be one of favorites ever put forth by Deafheaven. Lesage lurks in the background, howling, screeching his heart out like a lamented specter, cementing “Punk Rock/Cody’s” ghostly spell. Following a brief respite, Deafheaven rises up in a blast beaten mania accompanied by a flurry of dreamy chords and forlorn screeches.

Bosse-de-Nage’s track, “A Mimesis of Purpose,” is “holy shit” worthy. With an opening reminiscent of “Like Gods of the Sun” era My Dying Bride, Bosse-de-Nage melds wispy violins with a militant beat that is all but abruptly decapitated with a swell of icy riffs and agonizing screams. “Mimesis” piqued my interest with its primal drumwork that one would think clashed with the song’s generally esoteric sound. Instead we are blessed with a sound of savage intelligence. Bosse-de-Nage consistently push the envelope on this song, refusing to maintain itself while never succumbing to outright chaos. Instead light and heavy embrace each other amid a hellish whirlwind, where choruses of scream and voice call out like lost souls denied salvation. “Mimesis” reeks of a life without purpose that continues its search for meaning in the face of overwhelming cruelty and underwhelming love.

All material by Deafheaven and Bosse-de-Nage is addictive and should be listened to endlessly, especially this masterstroke. No jokes. This amazing split can be ordered HERE. This is music to lose yourself in, please do so.

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