Another Church of Fuck split release and another double-dose of raw, unfiltered aggression. Esoteric Youth and Caïna have teamed up for a supremely blackened affair that fans of the heavier end of the metal spectrum will be immensely satisfied with.
Those horrible Mancunian bastards return with more fire in their belly than ever before. Esoteric Youth continue their trend of sounding ever more horrendous and foreboding with their blackest material to date.
The band’s sound is still rooted in hardcore and that of the Entombed variety, but the tremolo picking that was scattered throughout their ‘The Burden of Living’ EP is used liberally on Kvarblivelse and definitely highlights a more concerted effort to meld their existing sound with black metal.
Förlåt backs off the tremolo picking for a slower-paced arrangement that makes use of the other key element of Esoteric Youth’s sound. The stark, reverb-heavy guitar leads return and add to the already dense and bleak atmosphere that the band have created. Esoteric Youth have definitely found their comfort zone and have created a sound that is so them that you’d accuse any other band employing similar tactics as rip-off merchants.
These two tracks are also given an extra boost by the wonderful production work. Recording and mixing was tackled by Joe No Studio (AKA the house of hardcore) and mastering was handled by Brad Boatright who’s worked with the mighty Nails. This is probably the brightest Esoteric Youth have sounded to date but there’s just the right amount of filth in that guitar tone to make the mix polished but disgusting at the same time.
This is an incredibly dark and intense offering from Esoteric Youth that just goes to show that these boys haven’t even begun to hit their stride yet.
One-man black metal machine Caïna returns with more new material following his Church of Fuck comeback ‘Earth Inferno’. Caïna’s black metal leanings are relentless yet atmospheric examples of the genre and opener We Sleep progresses from unbridled wrath to a much more delicate and textured composition.
Apocrypha takes the ferocity of We Sleep’s opening and sticks with it for a full 2 and a half minutes. This song also features guest vocals from Esoteric Youth’s Dom Moss as well as Church of Fuck head honcho and Cold Fell vocalist Laurence Taylor. While it’s fun to hear Caïna tackle something that’s just plain heavy, it lacks the impact of the wonderfully atmospheric opener. Caïna is definitely at his best when he takes his songs to interesting places that are built from varying soundscapes.
What really hurts Caïna’s side of the release is the man’s insistence of doing everything himself. Caïna is clearly a talented guitarist and songwriter but the programmed drums*, weak production and dodgy vocal mix aren’t doing him any favours. The vocals in particular have a habit of spiking which makes for an unpleasant listening experience with headphones on.
Caïna’s side of this split showcases an extremely talented musician making thoughtful, progressive black metal that is extremely well structured. It’s just a bit of a shame that the dirty, slap-dash nature of the production cheapens the experience to a degree.
*Caïna has since clarified that these recordings do not actually contain programmed drums.