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As the headline suggests, this is a good record, a very good one even in parts. However, if you are not a real fan of either band or if you are not interested in owning as many doom records as possible, you do not really need to bother, there are better albums to find.
Asunder were the main reason for me to get a hold of this split-release, I got all their stuff so far, and I will probably get all their future stuff as well. While I am rather into the Saint Vitus, Sleep and EyeHateGod influenced styles of Doom Metal, which of course does not per se exclude certain deathy doom bands, Asunder manage to deliver something that should make them interesting to any fan of slow and heavy metal. First off, they are pretty unique! Maybe their sound isn't that much, but their songwriting and many riffs/melodies are. Using "Funeral Doom" as a description for their music would be like calling Death an Old School Death Metal band...in a way it fits, but it is so much more! Unlike the very simplistic music of bands such as Thergothon or Skepticism, Asunder's songs contain many many different riffs, melodies and breaks, they develop over a long period and something new happens all the time. Yes, indeed they can be pretty hard to follow! I never counted, but it seems like the songs include as many different parts as minutes. And this is the kinda difficult point about their music - while it's very moody and makes you want to drift away, it also demands you to listen carefully, otherwise you don't really get what's going on and it all seems not catchy enough. However, when you listen you will find many memorable melodies and cool riffs.
Asunder definitely is a great band, and anyone to whom a mix of the first Cathedral and slowed down Grave played in a very complex way seems interesting, should give them a listen. However, and that's why I say this record might be essential for fans but not for others, this is not their strongest release. Of course it got some great parts, but if you are not familiar with this band, you should first check out their albums. The Clarion Call would probably be the best option to begin with, while the follow-up As Works Come Undone is their most complex release and even more difficult to get into.
Now on the other site of the LP - for those of you who still know what vinyl is - we got Graves At Sea. Many things I said about Asunder could be turned around here. I didn't really care about Graves At Sea that much before. I had heard their 7" on Southern Lord and also some of their demo stuff and wasn't impressed a lot. It just sounded like another American Extreme Doom band, very much like Burning With with a bit of EyeHateGod thrown in, pretty unoriginal and not even very good for what it was. You can find many sludgy bands that are more interesting if you care to make the effort of searching. However, it seemed that many people didn't care and it was so easy to get this Southern Lord stuff, so after only a very short period of time you had a new band that was pretty popular in the underground and I didn't agree. To me they did not seem special or good enough to deserve it, and they weren't even around for a long time so that at least you could title them a cult band.
But with the release in discussion in mind, I had to change my view! Sure, there has been no originality added to these two songs here, it's still the same kinda Burning Witch with EyeHateGod kinda Sludgedoom, BUT: this time it's done very well! The production is just like it needs to be and especially the first song got some killer riffs and is very memorable. Yes, even extreme music can - and should - be kinda catchy!
So this release could have been the turning point in Graves At Sea's development, but they broke up already, which is a pity. There is a new band around, but I only heard some parts of their release and it seemed to go back to where Graves At Sea where before this split-LP. Concluding, I have to say something pretty similar as about Asunder - if you are a fan or if you already got all the Burning Witch, EyeHateGod, Winter, Grief, Iron Monkey, Spancer, Warhorse, etc. stuff and you still haven't got enough, just like me, you might want to get a hold of this. Otherwise you should maybe first check out the aforementioned bands.
While I appreciate and enjoy both these bands very much I found this split to be kind of disappointing and unessential. Something about it leaves me unfulfilled when listening. After seeing Graves At Sea live I must say that their recorded output pales in comparison to their live show. For those of you who have never heard them it’s extreme droning stoner/doom metal from Arizona not unlike Burning Witch. These sunburned potheads contribute two slow burning tracks that sound about exactly the same as any of the songs that can be found on their debut EP entitled “Documents Of Grief.”
Asunder are a mournful-sounding type of US funeral doom band. While I enjoyed "A Clarion Call" a lot it wouldn’t be right to say the 20 minute track they provide for this split is taking a step backward, but it does not seem to be taking any progressions forward for the band. Not the most enjoyable or memorable 20 minute track I’ve heard. Overall I find this split to float in a grey area of musical relevance, and not in the way either of these bands probably intended. Check out "A Clarion Call” and “Documents of Grief” prior to this.