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What we have here is some extremely fucked up dirty sludge. Dystopia and Grief, two notable names in the sludge scene, produce some truly filthy sounds here. Slow burning, these songs seep their way into your head, filling your mind with dark thoughts. This is the first Dystopia release to be put out on Life Is Abuse records, which (if my memory doesn't escape me) is run by a member of the band. When this was first released it came with a razor blade, which apparently had Dystopia's name screened on it.
Greif begin this split, providing us with two songs: "Lifeless" and "Fucked Upstairs." These songs are extremely slow, featuring very repetitive riffing. The vocals meet halfway between a death growl and a black metal rasp. These tracks are truly misanthropic; they feel like the musical equivalent of being trapped in an insane asylum. While I'm on that subject, they include a sample of an obviously mentally ill man claim he is both Jesus and Mohammed, which adds to the messed up hopeless vibe.
Dystopia have two versions of "Sleep". This one appeared on the Human = Garbage compilation, which is generally considered Dystopia's first album. While the other version is the better one, this is still great. This version is much rawer, and a bit sludgier. The main drawback to this version is that the clean vocals aren't as convincing. Its not that they're bad - its just that their better in the other version. In the latter version they create an almost ritualistic mood.
While Dystopia is mostly known for being raw, abrasive and angry, this song shows their atmospheric side. There is a sizeable section with clean guitar tone where arpeggios are played. Over that includes a rare moment - clean singing in a Dystopia song. It actually works very well, the low subtle vocals add a very erie atmosphere to the song. This section perfectly balances out the raw sludgy crust punk. The riffing in this song also deserves mention. During the beginning we get a memorable epic riff. The riffing for most of the song is more than just a few power chords - they almost seem like the raw sludgy version of an exotic melody.
All in all, this is a very enjoyable release. Dystopia's side is definitely more involved, but it is undeniable that Grief do what they do well. This a perfect example of raw sludge done well. This is for people who like their metal slow. While Dystopia's is a bit less slow than Grief''s songs, they aren't exactly playing fast, especially for metal. This is not a happy affair - but I guess thats pretty obvious seeing as this comes with a razor blade.
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