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The split albums will always be a constant (And ritualistic tradition) within the DIY bands and the ones who once belonged to it. this case is not the exception, we got the powerful ones who put the "-core" suffix in metalcore, on the other hand we got the creators of one of the most brutal genres ever been created: grindcore.
The clash of two generations will always be a succes, different sounds joined in this old tradition, sure to think that this kind of rituals make everything possible, even combine two legends in their respectives genres in one place, also serving to introduce the old ones to the new things that are going now, and viceversa.
Converge side is a direct slap in the face, with the chaotic sounds and fury that make them one of the top bands within the community, the cacophony and chaos that melt in order thanks to the mathematic speed and precision in every note that they play, following the rule to do this in no more than a minute and keep smashing the chords, beating the drums and screaming like no tomorrow to come, all of this things are packed in the first track "No Ligh Escapes".
"Wolverine Blues" is the cover that people needed, with collaborations of Aaron Turner and legends of melodeath scene like Tomas Lindberg. Revitalizing a theme from the old time Death 'N' Roll to the new sound, but keeping the essence of the original one, Converge does a good effort to pay tribute to the long lived and mythical band from Sweden: Entombed.
Napalm Death's side is traditional Grindcore at his best, with the first track "Will By Mouth" they only remark us what we know since the beggining: Their mastership on the chaotic chords, the brutallity of the constant beat of the drums and the growls of an old spirit with such greatness that even at his age is at his best, making us think that time will come and he'll be no longer growl in that manner and he's giving everything to trascend in every aspect, and he has done it since "Harmony Corruption"
"No Impediment to Triumph (Bhopal)" The closing track of this split marks a difference with the previos one: this track is more accesible, keeping the brutallity and their characteristic rage, giving some moments of relaxation and even a sticky riff, making us think that the band never undid their punkish past and remembering us were do they came, which is their past, a past that will always be with them even if we don't see it clear: Their DIY constant.
Napalm Death are no strangers to hardcore split seven-inches, having shared wax previously with S.O.B., Electro Hippies, Nasum, & Coalesce. I admit indifference to their latest full-length (Utilitarian) being of the minority opinion that it is one of N.D.'s weakest albums. As for cohorts Converge, they came to hardcore popularity around the time I was leaving the scene. I've investigated their discography somewhat but nothing they've released has struck me as particularly exciting. We'll see how this seven-inch shakes out.
Converge open up with fifty-seconds of pulsating hardcore. "No Light Escapes" is a violent pulpy mash of driving beats and coalescing guitar mayhem that unfortunately doesn't come together. The opening terror is sweet, especially with the underlying leads, but the half-time surf-rock interlude just fails as an idea. The finish comes out of nowhere. Jacob Bannon's vocals are ordinary, unequal to the menace hinted at in his music. As for their cover of "Wolverine Blues," it's pale. Not as burly or heavy or threatening or loose-limbed as the original. They tighten up the riff too much. The drums don't swing as hard. It's like they took a needle, stuck it into the original, and sterilized it. As for the cavalcade of guest vocalists, they're a distraction at best. Not one of them touches LGP's visciously unhinged snarl.
The Napalm side, suffice to say, is better. But I still don't dig it. "Will By Mouth" has a very familiar riff. Can't quite pinpoint it but I know Napalm's used it somewhere before. This self-cannibalization has become a problem for them recently. Otherwise the blasting, shrieking ninety-second march of this tune is acceptable if generally uninspired. There's no sense of having not heard this before. "No Impediment to Triumph (Bhopal)" is better. I dig the crusty off-time riffs, the scattered drum patterns, and general noise-rock atmosphere. Way more unique and interesting, it held my attention repeatedly. Once they start thrashing away with the double-bass, you feel refreshed and excited. A good track that's hurt by mitigating factors. The first one is Barney's voice: tight, airless, lacking power, it has aged poorly. Compare this painful constriction to the deep, throaty, powerful roars of Order Of The Leech to hear the damage a decade can do. Another problem is the production. I realize they're going for a lo-fi, old-school four track demo-ish sound but this attempt has rendered them paper thin, almost brittle. Between this split and their last two records, I feel like Napalm has passed their resurgent second prime.
"Will By Mouth"/"No Impediment to Triumph (Bhopal):" 66%
"No Light Escapes"/"Wolverine Blues (Entombed cover):" 49%
Total: 57.5% (rounded up)
This has got to be one of the year’s most highly anticipated split releases (if I need to introduce either of these two heavyweights to you, then you’re reading the wrong site), especially after Converge’s stunning split with fastcore champions Dropdead last year and Napalm’s triumphant return to form (aside from one or two slightly clumsy moments) with ‘Utilitarian’. These two bands may be firing on all cylinders at the moment, but does this release live up to the hype?
Converge waste no time at all in obliterating the listener’s senses with the furious ‘No Light Escapes’, a song that will be familiar to anyone who’s caught them live recently. It’s a powerful blast of the kind of chaotic hardcore that only Converge can really pull off, with a fist pumping middle section and a finish that swaggers like Keith Richards hopped up on speedballs and bath salts, all in the space of 50 seconds. In short, it’s totally fucking awesome! Before you’ve had a chance to catch your breath, the band race on, into their star-studded and much-hyped rendition of 'Wolverine Blues'. Given the amount of contemporary hardcore bands taking inspiration from the mighty Entombed at the moment, the fact that Converge have assembled Thomas Lindberg (At The Gates), Aaron Turner (Isis), Kevin Baker (All Pigs Must Die) and Brian Izzi (Trap Them) to cover the Swedish legends seems like a fitting and wholly appropriate tribute. It’s a pretty faithful cover, but Converge nevertheless manage to put their own stamp on this classic song, riding its meaty grooves with confidence and style. If you’re able to resist the urge to bang your head until your brain cells cry out for mercy, you can also have some fun playing ‘Spot The Vocalist’, with each guest musician taking turns to spit out the lyrics. There’s a real nice atmosphere here, like that time you invited all your mates round to cover a bunch of death metal classics in your garage. Fun vibes, and top riffs – always a recipe for success!
Any thoughts that Napalm Death may struggle to compete with this fine display are quickly annihilated, as the band fire into action with ‘Will By Mouth’, one of the most grinding tunes they’ve belted out in years. The song speeds ahead with a breakneck intensity and a genuine sense of righteous indignation, before concluding with a grotty punk-infused ending that would have Extreme Noise Terror fuming with jealousy. ‘No Impediment To Triumph (Bhopal)’ finds the band playing around with those industrial sounding, Godflesh-esque chord progressions they’ve been using sporadically for the last couple of years, but skewering them with bleak, angular twitches of aggression. The song twists and turns through quite a few turbulent different sections, and is probably one of the more successful of their recent melodic experiments, combining their well-documented Swans obsession with the same unbridled fury that initially made their name. Napalm’s contribution is nothing radically different from the material on their last few albums, but only the most hardened cynic would dismiss this as ‘Napalm-by-numbers’ – the band sound fresh, energised and gleefully destructive, with Barney’s vocals especially standing out as sounding particularly vicious, almost straining with sheer venom in places. My only slight gripe is that Shane’s thunderous bass doesn’t ring through quite as clearly as it has done on previous outings, but you’ll probably be grinding along too hard to notice.
So, to answer my initial question – yes, this absolutely does live up the hype. It may be short, but this is a textbook example of the phrase “all killer, no filler”, with both bands stepping up their game and delivering the goods in abundance. If you’re a fan of either of these bands, you’re probably already cranking this right now, but if not, then you certainly don’t want to miss out on this, a potent reminder of just how good both these acts really are.
Originally written for http://www.grindtodeath.com