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Although obviously an incredibly odd choice of two bands to put on a split, I could sort of see why Coffins and XXX Maniak were paired. Coffins represents the more serious side of the split, contributing their own slab of crushing death/doom metal (contrary to the belief of some, this is not "stoner/Sabbath worship" featuring "bluesy riffage"). It's simplistic, it's raw, and it is brutal. XXX Maniak put out twenty tracks of their own brand of goregrind, fast and crunchy.
First, the Coffins side. Coffins is now quite well known in the death/doom (be that death, doom, or death/doom) community for being incredibly prodigious in a short period of time, yet for having every release be one of quality. This split reflects that, showing that they are willing to put work into a split with a practical joke band. Anyway, this split will fit nicely into the collection of any interested Coffins fan. The guitar is just as low, distorted and brutal on this. The riffs are a nice collection of passages from both death and death/doom origins, the drums are plodding and occasionally a bit hypnotic, and the growls are low, brutal, and disgusting.
Since first reading about the antics of XXX Maniak, I had been a bit reluctant to show any kind of support towards them. They had played porn inspired grindcore before whatever partnership the two members had dissolved completely into a series of forum posted explanations and accusations ("You were never really in the band!", "You were a crystal meth addict!", "We only did it for money and hated the fans!"...ugh.). In the end, I caved because of Coffins, and here we are.
The first thing those unfamiliar with the band or the genre of goregrind (as I was, prior to this) will notice is that it's simple music. The tempo is fast, the songs are microscopically short, and the overall sound is sort of polished. Everything has a very programmed, artificial sound to it. If actually played rather than synthesized, I wouldn't be surprised if the guitar was recorded using a Line 6 practice amp and a Digitech Death Metal pedal. Drums were obviously programmed as well. Vocals are a combination of angry screams/yells and more angry screams/yells. Lyrics are sometimes as simple as repeating the title in the varies forms of yelling. The samples/titles are a joke. Samples include the courtroom sentencing of a rapist, newscasts of rapist news, interviews with rape victims...yeah, they like rape. We get it.
In the end, it's obvious which side is more favorably viewed. Coffins manages to do far less, yet still gets a rawer, much more evil sound to their music. XXX Maniak is fun for a quick listen now and then, but I see no reason to listen past the first few tracks.
As it's well known if you've read my reviews, I'm a HUGE fan of XXX Maniak. Their splits sometimes disappoint, me, though. Fortunately, this was not the case with the Cracks of Doom split.
I'll start with Coffins. They're an interesting doom metal band, one of the stoner/Sabbath worship type, from Japan. I wouldn't have picked this as the match for XXX Maniak. Perhaps it was an attempt at a "Night and Day" approach, with opposites playing to enhance each side. It doesn't seem to have been particularly sucessful, the album just seems to speed up right away at a confusing moment.
As for the music... It's pretty standard fare as far as stoner doom goes, with the bluesy riffage and slow drumming. The production is a little weak, though, which robs Coffins of the necessary heaviness. The guitar is a little too thin, lacking the fat overdrive sound necessary, and the drums sound just a shade sterile. There's not much to say, as it's only two tracks. I don't often see stoner doom bands do splits, and the lack of development makes the split seem abrupt and inappropriate. At the very least, we answered that quandry.. no more stoner splits. Now, onto the XXX Maniak side.
The departure of old vocalist Sidote has caused an interesting shift in the attitude, atmosphere, and overall musicality of XXX Maniak. What seems to have previously been a band more for atmosphere or strange humor is replaced with a more serious grindcore band. I've never really seen a joke band get serious while maintaining their style, so this is new territory.. and I must say, XXX Maniak do it quite well.
The vocals are the most noticeable change. Sidote's typical gutturals and screeches are almost entirely gone. There is a good deal of experimentation in vocal styles. Some of the tracks seem to have taken a strange rapid thrash shout vaguely reminiscent of rapping. Other tracks, such as "Sweet Relief in the Mausoleum" and "Smoking Sumerian Debris" have a more harsh, evil sounding guttural than previous releases. The new vocals are a welcome change, as they sound truly demonic compared to the typical contrived guttural Sidote used to provide (I like his voice, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't sound quite like this new fellow). Also present are bizzare squeals, such as on "Sandbox Sniffer", and even a few anarcho punk shouts on "Stabilize Her." The vocal change adds a unique element, and is certain a welcome improvement.
The instrumentation is about the same: very fake, very metal distorted guitar and a very basic programmed drum kit. There is a slight improvement in production, perhaps in part due to the change in drumming style. Compared to the near constant assault of blasts in some XXX Maniak releases, the drumming is more legitimate, following the more conventional song structures. You'll hear plenty of blasts, but there are also D-Beats, slow breakdown drumming, and so on. As a result, the guitar riffs are more clear and impressive, and the songs play more like songs and less like blasts of chaos and rape.
Though the bands do not make sense together, they are both solid bands worth checking out, and this is a split you can't afford to miss. HIGHLY recommended.