Tag Archives: split

Review: Underdark and Antre’s Split 7″

Underdark

It’s been a good few years since Underdark graced us with their debut EP Mourning Cloak and it’s extremely exciting to see new music from them. The Smell of Autumn is an incredible follow up full of extremely tight and passionate black metal. Thanks to it being black metal, we get loads of intense, tremolo-picked riffs and blast beats that maintain a level of intensity that makes this an amazingly engaging song. It flows in a wonderfully natural way, with an unsettling introduction that soon expands to reveal a whole host of nasty, blood-curdling secrets.

Despite being six and half minutes long, they go by in a flash thanks to the strength of Underdark’s song writing. Here’s a song bursting with so many ideas that it’s quite frankly unbelievable that they’ve crammed them all into a single song. Underdark haven’t lost any of their initial spark and it’ll be fascinating to see where they go from here.

10/10

Antre

Antre are an extremely fresh face in UK black metal. Hand of Fire marks their second release after last year’s two track demo and it certainly makes an impact. This a far more punishing effort than Underdark’s side of the split and its near five minute run time almost exclusively displays a penchant for playing as fast as possible. Hand of Fire is a track stuffed with tremolo-picking and blast beats and despite its focus on visceral speed, it manages to create an incredibly dark and disparate atmosphere.

We do get a slight shift into a slower tempo for the middle eight, but it isn’t long before we’re back to being beaten into submission by an intensity that’s difficult to argue with. Antre don’t show as much nuance as Underdark, but I get the feeling that was never the intention with Hand of Fire. If you like your black metal relentless and uncompromising then Antre certainly deliver with Hand of Fire.

8/10

Underdark and Antre’s Split 7″ is out now and available to buy direct from Underdark and Antre’s respect Bandcamp pages.

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Year End: The 5 Best Splits of 2016

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5) Temple Steps/Wreck

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A massive, lurching doom behemoth from Lincoln’s Temple Steps and Germany’s Wreck, this split highlights two young talents who are making a captivating low-tempo racket. While Temple Steps prefer the long form, almost funeral doom approach to song structures, Wreck have a real sludgy guitar tone and some really creative riffs that make their tracks a little more interesting. The production is a little rough round the edges, but it’ll be fascinating to watch both bands grow on their next releases.

4) God Mother/Artemis

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Sweden’s God Mother teamed up with Basingstoke’s Artemis for their final release (another great band taken by the onslaught of 2016) and it’s a bittersweet effort as Artemis put forward 2 of their best songs. Both bands fit into the same metallic hardcore mold with extremely progressive song structures that focus on speed and aggression. Fans of hardcore are serviced well by this 7”.

3) Szyslak/Misgivings

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This double-dose of pop punk from the two fresh faces of Brighton’s Szyslak and Portsmouth’s Misgivings offers up 4 tracks of no-nonsense, hooky punk-rock for fans of Gnarwolves. It’s great to hear more pop punk cropping up with a little more bite than the usual sugary, hyper-polished efforts by a lot of the big name bands like Blink-182 and Green Day so if you enjoy massive sing-a-long choruses but like your punk with a bit of dirt then you can do no wrong with this split.

2) Harrowed/Art of Burning Water

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“Harrowed are still an exciting hardcore band and these tracks are by no means bad, they’re just not up to the band’s usual standard. Fingers crossed Harrowed have another belter of a long-player in the works because it’s about time we saw something more substantial from the band. It’s weird to think that Into Inferno is around 3 years old now.”

“Thankfully, despite all these elements coming into play, they manage to fuse in a way that makes Art of Burning Water’s music sound utterly ferocious. Let Me Let You Finish is the perfect example of all these musical styles coming together harmoniously and it’s a terrifying and scattershot explosion of disgusting metal that demands your attention. Please start paying attention to what Art of Burning Water are doing because a band like this shouldn’t be so criminally overlooked.”

Click here to read the full review.

1) Gurt/Trippy Wicked – Guppy

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Seeing as how Gurt and Trippy Wicked now share a drummer, it made perfect sense for the sludge metallers to team up for a split and the result is nothing short of excellent. Gurt are on form once again with their special blend of sludge and hardcore that makes for a suitably unpredictable yet surprisingly memorable couple of songs, but it’s Trippy Wicked that really shine. Their first new material in 3 years, this is easily the best the band has sounded. There’s real depth to their bluesy sound now and the production finally makes them sound as massive as they do live. Let’s not forget the wonderfully daft cover of T. Rex’s Children of the Revolution which sees members from both bands team up to create a truly “revolting” version of the rock classic.


Review: Harrowed and Art of Burning Water’s Split 7″

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HARROWED

Harrowed’s take on dark, metallic hardcore is one of the best in the UK and their debut album Into Inferno is a vicious and dangerous sounding record that takes all the best bits from the genre and plays them really well. However, on the two tracks they offer on this split, the elements are all still there but Harrowed don’t sound as volatile. This is Harrowed doing what Harrowed do and that’s fine because Harrowed make great hardcore, but they’re missing the edge that made Into Inferno so utterly sumptuous.

This is mainly due to the production style which is a little rawer than the band’s debut. Into Inferno certainly wasn’t a bright, shiny album when it came to production, but the guitar sounded deadly. It had a real bite that’s sadly missing on these tracks and it just means that they’re missing a special something that would make them stand out better, especially now that dark hardcore is such an overpopulated genre.

Harrowed are still an exciting hardcore band and these tracks are by no means bad, they’re just not up to the band’s usual standard. Fingers crossed Harrowed have another belter of a long-player in the works because it’s about time we saw something more substantial from the band. It’s weird to think that Into Inferno is around 3 years old now.

7/10

ART OF BURNING WATER

Art of Burning Water are one of those bands that have been slogging their way through the toilet circuit for what feels like forever and never really been given their dues. Their music is very difficult to categorise as it draws in so many different influences from the heavy music spectrum, but it’s mainly a form hardcore punk that’s sprinkled with elements of black metal and grindcore. Vocals are always high-pitched and raspy giving their music that nasty, brooding vibe that black metal does so well and the loose, short bursts of almost free-form song-writing definitely lend themselves heavily to hardcore and grind.

Thankfully, despite all these elements coming into play, they manage to fuse in a way that makes Art of Burning Water’s music sound utterly ferocious. Let Me Let You Finish is the perfect example of all these musical styles coming together harmoniously and it’s a terrifying and scattershot explosion of disgusting metal that demands your attention. Please start paying attention to what Art of Burning Water are doing because a band like this shouldn’t be so criminally overlooked.

8/10

Harrowed and Art of Burning Water’s split 7″ is out now and available to buy from Secret Law Records.


Year End: The Best 5 Splits of 2015

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5) Nomadic Rituals/Tome

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“This 14 minute behemoth entitled The Great Dying begins with a gentle, low-end rumble and then unleashes a horrendous, down-tuned chord that could shake a building to its foundation.”

“Clocking in at 11 minutes, Tome deal in a similar, funeral-doom-esque march but their riffs are more memorable in comparison to Nomadic Rituals who use their guitars to build atmosphere.”

Click here to read the full review.

4) Yards/Astrid Lindgren/Rites/We Are Dust

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This is an extremely diverse offering of various punk subgenres. Smithsfoodgroup and LTD Records managed to band together UK hardcore punk mob Yards, Polish screamo merchants Astrid Lindgren, Netherlands emo outfit Rites and German metallic hardcore bruisers We Are Dust for this hugely eclectic but shouty offering. Special mention has to be given to Yards who manage to sound more furious than ever.

Full review coming soon.

3) Oi Polloi/Grand Collapse

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What we have here is a double-dose of lairy punk from oiky punk stalwarts Oi Polloi and Scumscene favourites Grand Collapse. While Oi Polloi get straight to the point and generally put together songs that have more memorable hooks (e.g. GCHQFU), Grand Collapse continue to tear a seriously aggressive streak through the UK underground punk scene and songs like Turn Coat are an absolutely vicious riff attack.

Full review coming soon.

2) Samoans/Freeze the Atlantic

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“This split from Samoans and Freeze the Atlantic is a great bit of fun that showcases both bands at the very top of their game. Fans of heavy rock music are given an incredibly diverse display of alt rock, post rock and post hardcore that manages to meld together in a strangely cohesive package.”

Click here to read the full review.

1) Irk/Wren

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What an absolutely electric offering this split is. Irk continue to blow us away with their groove-laden blend of tech metal and noise rock. There is simply nothing as satisfyingly unique as Irk and you have to make sure you’re exposed to their music right away. London doomsters Wren also put together a hearty selection of doom anthems that encapsulate the bleak feeling of loneliness. This is extremely dark and brooding metal that is perfectly executed. This is an essential split for fans of heavy music.

Full review coming soon.

Notable Mentions
Bastions/Burning Bright – Swan Songs
Employed to Serve/A Ghost Orchestra


Review: Samoans’ and Freeze the Atlantic’s Split EP

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Samoans and Freeze the Atlantic have seen fit to produce a split EP to accompany their October tour. Both bands have produced a new song and a cover of one of each other’s songs in the BYO Split Series mould.

SAMOANS

Samoans have a wonderfully diverse offering on this split. Opener Wrong Cops sees the band exploring alt rock territories with comparisons to Transmit Disrupt-era Hell is for Heroes coming to mind. It’s a wonderfully dreamy bit of rock music that’s big on noodly guitar work and it’s drenched in Daniel Barnett’s soaring vocal melodies.

Then we approach Samoans cover which is something pretty special indeed. A take on Freeze the Atlantic’s Stompbox, Samoans strip the song back to its bones and concentrate on that wonderful riff that kicks the whole thing into gear. Instead of being the high-paced rocker that it took in its original form, Samoans’ version of Stompbox slows the riff down and amps up the distortion to give the whole thing a Deftones vibe that reminds us of Minerva. Stompbox now plods along with an Earth-shattering groove that Samoans are so fond of incorporating.

This is extremely strong stuff from Samoans that further cements their more considered post rock approach that the band implemented on their previous record. Samoans deal in large-scale, floaty melodies that are punctuated with dirty great walls of distortion and it’s still an absolute joy to listen to.

8/10

FREEZE THE ATLANTIC

Freeze the Atlantic have had a pretty rocky start to their career and they’re already on their third vocalist. While we were previously left a bit hollow by Liv Puente’s performance on their previous self-titled record, Puente has hit his stride on new song The Floor is Made of Lava. This is a far moodier and more musically interesting offering from the band that doesn’t follow the standard hard rock structures they’ve previously explored. This is more like a post hardcore song and it reminds us of bands like Radio Alcatraz. This is creatively a big step up for Freeze the Atlantic and we completely welcome it.

Now we approach Freeze the Atlantic’s cover. What’s interesting with this song is they actually opt to make Samoans’ I Am Your Density more approachable by changing the structure to something that flows more like a traditional rock song. This is quite a nice trade-off between the two bands that showcases exactly what they both do so well. Freeze the Atlantic do a fantastic job of making this their own and see fit to add a massive riff that will get the crowds jumping.

Freeze the Atlantic have definitely improved dramatically as song-writers and thanks to a stronger vocal performance from Puente it feels like all the pieces have finally fallen into the right places. I personally cannot wait to see what the band deliver on their next long-player.

9/10

This split from Samoans and Freeze the Atlantic is a great bit of fun that showcases both bands at the very top of their game. Fans of heavy rock music are given an incredibly diverse display of alt rock, post rock and post hardcore that manages to meld together in a strangely cohesive package.

Samoans and Freeze the Atlantic’s split EP is out now and can be bought directly from either band.


Review: Karma to Burn and Sons of Alpha Centauri’s Split 7″

American desert rockers Karma to Burn have joined forces with Kent prog rockers Sons of Alpha Centauri and the result is a double dose of instrumental rock that’s big on groove and not much else.

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Karma to Burn’s contribution is a spacey, 4 minute track called Six that hammers home a pretty satisfying groove but does little else to hold your attention. The track ends up playing out like a very long album opener which would be fine if the band had a stronger track to follow it up but they don’t as each band on this split only contributes a single track.

4 minutes, one riff; that’s all you’re getting. Fingers crossed Sons of Alpha Centauri have a little more to offer because this is an inconsequential opening on a 7” that costs seven of your British pounds.

5/10

SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI
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Sons of Alpha Centauri thankfully put forward a song that has a little more meat on its bones. Their contribution is a song called 66 (get it? Six66? GROAN) and the song is a somewhat proggier affair than Karma to Burn’s effort. The off kilter guitar work brings back memories of classic earthtone9 which is certainly a compliment compared to Karma to Burn who brought on feelings of boredom.

Unfortunately while this composition actually bothers to move and progress into different riffs, the band’s sound really needs something else. The instrumentation just isn’t interesting enough to hold your attention without any vocals and this is where Sons of Alpha Centauri fall down. Sons of Alpha Centauri are making the sort of alternative rock that bands like Tool have been so successful with, but while bands like that include all the elements needed to flesh out their sound, Sons of Alpha Centauri don’t feel like they have enough in their repertoire to hold your attention.

6/10

Instrumental rock is a difficult genre to deal in because as both bands on this split have proven, missing an element as important as a vocalist can end up making your music sound sparse and uneventful in the process. Both Karma to Burn and Sons of Alpha Centauri need to spend more time making their music move in interesting and engrossing ways if they are to continue as instrumental acts.

Karma to Burn and Sons of Alpha Centauri’s 7” split is out now and available to buy from H42 Records and direct from Sons of Alpha Centauri.


Review: Nomadic Rituals/Tome Split

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NOMADIC RITUALS

Those Irish doomsters Nomadic Rituals have finally returned after a lengthy silence since the release of their Holy Giants mini-album and the band are on similarly nihilistic form. This 14 minute behemoth entitled The Great Dying begins with a gentle, low-end rumble and then unleashes a horrendous, down-tuned chord that could shake a building to its foundation.

Nomadic Rituals may err on the slower-side of the doom spectrum (well, slow for doom) but their heavy use of reverb and disgusting tones means their music is almost suffocating in its density. This is not a listening experience for the faint-hearted and it trudges along like you’re making your way through marshland on foot.

This is not to say that Nomadic Rituals have put together a boring song by any means, but The Great Dying is more of an atmospheric experience than one full of catchy melodies and choruses. The thick, sludgy guitar riffs are wonderfully meaty and when the tempo steps up a notch around the 9 minute mark, the band punctuate an absolutely bleak experience with some devastating heaviness.

Nomadic Rituals have returned with a doom epic that showcases exactly what the band are about. This is an extremely testing yet rewarding experience that fans of doom will be stupid to miss.

8/10

TOME

Tome’s contribution to this split is another mammoth doom track with the name of Bone Divinations. Clocking in at 11 minutes, Tome deal in a similar, funeral-doom-esque march but their riffs are more memorable in comparison to Nomadic Rituals who use their guitars to build atmosphere. You can actually bang your head to the dirge-like groove that features in the first 4 minutes of the song and while the band have a similarly reverb-heavy sound, the melodies are the big draw.

Sadly the band’s riffs don’t change as frequently and as a result the song actually feels longer than The Great Dying. There are no tempo changes and the same riff that opens the track features for a greater amount of time. This means that Tome have a more difficult time justifying the length of their song. It often feels long for the sake of being long.

That’s not to say this is by any means a terrible inclusion. Tome have a similarly filthy, low-end tone that feels like it could crush you to death and the atmosphere is just as oppressive. The band have certainly nailed their sound, it’s just their song writing is a bit repetitive.

Tome show great promise and once again fans of doom metal will find plenty to love, but if the band were tighten up their song writing and spend less time getting to the point then they could be onto something truly special.

7/10


Review: Rolo Tomassi/Stockades Split

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We’re bending the rules a bit by reviewing a split record featuring Australian screamo band Stockades, but this split also features Sheffield mathcore luminaries Rolo Tomassi and it was released via UK label Tangled Talk Records so shut up; it totally counts.

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Rolo Tomassi went through a slight stylistic shift on their last album Astraea which can only be down to the change of guitarist and bassist. When Joe Nicholson and Joseph Thorpe left the band, the band also lost their jazzier elements and the multiple changes in time signature weren’t nearly as prevalent on Astraea.

This hasn’t changed on Rolo Tomassi’s Adrasteia. New guitarist Chris Cayford and bassist Nathan Fairweather still favour a more metallic mathcore sound akin to that of The Dillinger Escape Plan and the addition of new drummer Tom Pitts also leads to a more frantic and double-bass-heavy performance.

The big change is that Adrasteia features a considerably larger amount of memorable riffs and melodies which was something that was lacking on Astraea. This is a precision attack on the aural sense and despite the technicality there is an obvious improvement in song-writing.

There’s also brilliant use of the quiet/loud dynamic. The song begins with a technically proficient mathcore opening before the song takes a breather in its middle eight to lure you into a gentle yet eerie keyboard-lead section. The song is then bookended by an almighty beast of a riff that is bound to ignite some serious mosh pits.

Rolo Tomassi might be losing their more unpredictable and progressive elements, but songs like Adrasteia prove the band are still an engaging mathcore band even when they’re playing things a little more straight forward. Adrasteia is also notable for being one of the heaviest songs the band has produced so far and that’s fine by me.

8/10

STOCKADES

Melbourne’s Stockades offer a very different listening experience. The band are just as much of a fan of the quiet/loud dynamic as Rolo Tomassi but their brighter, jangly guitar tone is more reminiscent of bands like Maths.

The more delicate opening of Unfix leads the listener into a false sense of security before the song speeds up for a blistering screamo section. It’s a glorious cacophony of abrasive noise that leads to an early crescendo before the song dials it back for another shift in tone.

After an almost relaxing section of glittery guitar worship, it’s back to another mammoth chord-driven section that is bizarrely euphoric in its loudness. It’s moments like these that remind us of bands like Self Defence Family and Goodtime Boys which is no bad thing by any stretch of the imagination.

Stockades offer up a lovely little progressive screamo anthem and it beautifully flows through its various riffs and melodies with ease. It’s still early days for these boys but it would appear they’ve already nailed and extremely accomplished sound that I’ll be paying some serious attention to from here on.

9/10

Rolo Tomassi and Stockades’ split is available to purchase on 7″ vinyl from Tangled Talk Records now.


Review: War Wolf/Crossburner Split

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Two UK hardcore behemoths collide on this split EP from War Wolf and Crossburner. While both bands have a sound that is rooted in hardcore, each offer a very different experience that warrants closer inspection.

WAR WOLF

War Wolf are a band who deal in a more mid-paced and careful battering of the senses. Their style of hardcore takes elements from sludge metal creating slower, more punishing riffs and their songs are generally built around some serious groove.

Each of the bands three songs is built around this stylistic choice and guitarist Oliver absolutely steals the show with his consistent yet down-tuned riff worship. This was a stellar decision by the band as the aggressive nature of the vocals delivered by bassist and vocalist Paul means that the riffs become the most important part of the band’s music and Oliver completely delivers on melody.

Highlights come in the form of The Worm which beats you around the head with its pounding rhythm delivered by drummer Ant and its marriage with Oliver’s riffs create an irresistible head-banging anthem. When War Wolf pump out songs like these, you’re reminded why they’re so enjoyable to listen to.

The only down-side to War Wolf’s side of the EP is that if you’re familiar with the band then they don’t really offer anything new. War Wolf have found their hook and it looks like they’ll be sticking with it for the foreseeable future. There’s nothing wrong with it but after an EP, album and now 2 splits it might become a bit stale for fans of the band. Thankfully, the band’s sound is so damn enjoyable that it’s not too much of an issue.

8/10

CROSSBURNER

Crossburner play things a little faster than War Wolf. Crossburner’s sound takes cues from black metal to create a sound that is absolutely visceral in nature. Crossburner employ blast-beats and tremolo-picking for an extremely dark and oppressive sound. When it’s joined by the Entombed-esque riffs from guitarist Matt it creates a wonderful cacophony of thrashy, blackened noise.

The band even find time to add elements from doom metal into songs like Rotten Book which features a slower tempo in its breakdown. Crossburner have loaded these songs with a considerable amount of variety and they’re quite progressive in nature; rarely revisiting a riff in the space of a single song.

The trouble is the band are definitely better off when they do revisit melodies. The highlight of the Crossburner side of the EP definitely comes in the form of Pray to Me which returns to its tremolo-picked riff and is far more memorable because of it.

The band often get a little too progressive for their own good and this has the unfortunate effect of not presenting the listener with riffs that last long enough for them to stick with you. Crossburner’s songs need more defining features because the unfortunate side effect of their progressive nature is that all three songs feel like they blend into one.

Regardless, Crossburner have all the right elements to create some seriously engaging and outrageously heavy hardcore, they just need to spend a little more time driving home their most memorable riffs.

7/10

War Wolf and Crossburner have delivered an EP that will satisfy hardcore fans the world over. This is a seriously strong collection of tunes that deserve your attention despite some small grievances with over-familiarity in War Wolf’s case and not enough time being spent driving home the strong melodies in Crossburner’s arsenal. If you’re a fan of the genre you’re still in for an absolute treat.

War Wolf and Crossburner’s split EP can be downloaded from Headless Guru Records now. Consider throwing them some money if you care about music. Also available on limited edition cassette.


Review: Oblivionized and Razoreater’s This is S.O.A.N.

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A split UK underground metal release? Recorded live!? You better believe it. Oblivionized and Razoreater have teamed up for a double dose of chaos that was recorded during a gig at Stuck on a Name Studios in Nottingham. The advantages of recording this in an actual studio means that even though this has the energy and rawness that comes with a live recording, it’s mixed and mastered to a professional level meaning this is one of the best sounding underground live recordings released for quite some time.

OBLIVIONIZED

Things kick off with Oblivionized who are one of the most difficult bands to categorise. The band play a mixture of mathcore, grindcore and death metal that is full of technicality and balanced with some absolutely crushing riffs from guitarist Sammy Urwin.

The band are on top form in this recording. The frantic and utterly mental drum work from Will Merlin is on full display and despite his aggressive playing style, Merlin manages to hit every one of his drum patterns with pin-point precision. This man is an absolute beast behind the kit.

What makes Oblivionized so satisfying to listen to is how they balance their bonkers technicality with moments of pure riff worship. Urwin will often drop into a thunderous groove that demands everyone in the room bang their heads and it’s captured perfectly on this recording.

The down-tuned nature of the guitar work also suits the mix as it contrasts with the drumming and vocals making each element of the band’s sound stick out in the mix. This is extremely important in a live recording as it’s very easy for these elements to meld into one unlistenable mess when every musician is giving it their all.

Oblivionized are one of the most exciting live bands in the UK and their sound is fascinatingly unique and devastating at the same time. Despite having to re-start You’re Spineless due to guitar issues, the band don’t put a foot wrong in this entire recording and it’s a beautifully visceral listening experience.

9/10

RAZOREATER

Razoreater deal with a different sort of mayhem; the band make metallic hardcore in a similar vein to Converge, Nails and Weekend Nachos which means that these boys have a thrashier and more direct playing style.

Like Oblivionized, Razoreater have a live show that will grab you by the balls and then run across the street while still clutching them. Razoreater’s music rarely slows down and the pace is exhaustingly fast. You can expect blast-beats aplenty on this recording.

Sadly the mix doesn’t work as well for Razoreater’s recording. This is down to the buzzsaw guitar tone clashing with the crash-heavy drum work. Because of the similarity of the two sounds it means it can be hard to hear the melody in Razoreater’s riffs. It’s not completely lost but sometimes you really have to pay attention to hear what’s going on in the guitar department. This is quite apparent on Razoreater’s cover of Slipknot’s Eeyore.

Regardless of mix, Razoreater’s performance is still utterly electric and it’s frankly amazing how they manage to keep up this level of intensity for their entire set. This is an exhausting experience that will keep the craziest mosh ninjas incredibly satisfied.

8/10

Oblivionized and Razoreater are champions of the UK underground music scene and this recording showcases exactly what’s so great about going to a dirty club show and getting your mosh on. This release is also accompanied by a live video recording of both band’s sets which is essential viewing if you’ve ever cared about the long lost art of the concert film. If you pre-order the split on cassette from Witch Hunter Records you also get a bonus Let it Die set which was also recorded at Stuck on a Name and like the Razoreater performance, it’s an utterly devastating streak of hardcore.

Order Oblivionized and Razoreater’s This is S.O.A.N. on limited edition cassette from Witch Hunter Records.