Collaborative works can either be a complete misfire or work against all odds, despite the stylistic differences between the artists (see last year’s Scott Walker and Sunn O))) effort, Soused). Here we have Finland’s Haapoja and Greece’s Dephosphorus together on what the promo touts as a collaboration, both in function and title. Truthfully, the joint effort ends after each band’s first track, which only goes so far as to swap vocalists, whose razor-like growls are none too discernible from each other. On this split, each band comes to the table with teeth bared, ready to heap on nine servings of vibrant thrash, death and grind, in no particular order, either. Haapoja’s half is flecked with radiant melodies that waiver in their urgency, neither sticking around long enough for one to bask in their shine or fleeting to the point of being elusive. “We See With Teeth” and “Minä Olen Herra” play like B-sides to an Oathbreaker record, namely 2013’s Eros|Anteros, meaning that Haapoja’s forays into hardcore-aligned black/death hybrids are executed better by the former. “Pakon Sanelema” is sturdier, wreaking havoc with heaving crescendos of death metal amid the schizoid tap dance of their two prior tracks. “Kaikki Murhasta” sinks those bared teeth deep into the grooves, letting the carnivorous flow of the riffs break into individual streams before converging into a mighty blood flow. All pieces come together best here, with Haapoja’s final track shedding the niceties of their guitars in favor of brutal forwardness.
The split gains much needed breathing room when Dephosphorus chimes in on the fifth track, ripping the album wide open with its icy contemplation. “An Eerie Transmission,” while not glacial in its pace, takes time to dwell on the upbeat yet grim tone of its first minute, before breaking away into sinister territories, with the anguishing vocals carrying high over the murk that the song sinks into. That same murk overflows into “Abstraction Maze” which quickly finds a refreshing abruptness reminiscent of The Red in the Sky is Ours-era At the Gates, before dissipating into clunky, metallic hardcore. “Extract the Soul” is, at first, a cacophony, with the vocals reaching headache-inducing levels, reducing the instrumentation to an undertow that manages to transform into a riptide that transmutes the headache into a headbang. Despite being sporadically disjointed, Collaboration serves as solid proving ground for both Haapoja and Dephosphorus that is worth every second it voraciously consumes. Available February 12th from Handshake Inc. on 180-gram vinyl, this split is worth a listen. Both bands discographies are available in full on their respective Bandcamps.