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This tape is one of my favorite releases in Bone Awl's (fairly lengthy) discography. This pairs Bone Awl's stripped-down black metal with sonic disturbances from The Rita, a well known and respected harsh noise act from Canada. This is more a collaborative effort than a split; each noise piece segues nicely into each Bone Awl track and then back into noise once more. The songs themselves are half-obscured by a wall of hiss and hum, which perfectly suits the messy and raw variety of black metal that Bone Awl have mastered. The overall effect of listening is disturbing and claustrophobic.
I'm not going to review The Rita's contributions in depth, as this is not the place, but suffice to say that if you take pleasure in pain and discomfort, you may find something worthwhile in their harsh noise sounds...
While Ildjarn is (rightfully) the band most commonly cited as an influence on Bone Awl's music, Germany's black metal tyrants Absurd have played their part as well, and that is nowehere more obvious than on songs like "With My Hands" and "I Feel Tension". The drums are simple, influenced by Oi!, RAC and hardcore punk, the riffs are repetitive and hypnotic, and the lyrics are blunt and brutish. Noisy, sloppy, and violent, the sound is closer to the early Absurd demos than to anything else. Unlike many bands playing in this raw style, however, Bone Awl are no mere tribute act to those who came before. They have that special something that is missing from most bands these days: they write actual, memorable songs, not just happenstance collections of riffs. These are songs that get under your skin and stay in your head for weeks afterward, popping up at the most inopportune times and places.
This is not a release I'd recommend for the casual black metal listener, or even the casual Bone Awl fan. If you're a dedicated listener of both black metal and noise, or if you consider yourself a Bone Awl die hard, then you'd be hard-pressed to find a better release.
If you are a fan of things that are pleasant, avoid this. If you are a fan of black metal, avoid this. If you are a fan of any sort of recording that could be considered music, avoid this. This split between black metal/punk band Bone Awl and noise project The Rita is for fans of massive headaches only and is the black sheep of Bone Awl's otherwise respectable discography.
Before you go on thinking that this is one of those reviews where the reviewer simply doesn't get it or shouldn't be reviewing it because they don't like the genre of music in the first place, let me set you straight. I love black metal. I like a fair bit of punk. I love Bone Awl. I love noise music as well, whether it be the abrasive electrified post-rock of Fuck Buttons, the cacophonous drug-addled rampages of Lightning Bolt or the devastating experimentation of Merzbow. The problem is that this release contains almost nothing of what makes noise an interesting genre: aggression, a serious investigation of ugly sounds, or the juxtaposition of harsh noise elements with more traditional musical elements of rhythm, melody and harmony.
The artists alternate tracks on this split but that hardly makes a difference because one sound and one sound only dominates the duration of the record: harsh, fairly low-frequency white noise with a slight rhythmic modulation that's barely perceptible. There are only two things that occur on this record that are any different from this: every once in a while some feedback will spike through the wall of noise and, if you listen very closely, the Bone Awl tracks sound like there might be actual Bone Awl songs hidden under the murk. The whole thing seems like it might have been some sort of ambient tracks alternated with Bone Awl songs, then had that put on one track of a 4-track tape, then had the other three tracks filled with recordings of the inside of a jet engine, including all of the clipping that would result as these tracks are maxed out in volume.
I can really only recommend this to noise enthusiasts who feel the need to have a complete collection of every noise recording ever produced, regardless of quality. It would also make an extremely effective alarm clock. This gets a 2% for the few dynamic elements it does possess.