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A discomfortable night out - 75%

gasmask_colostomy, December 7th, 2017

One of my first experiences of getting properly drunk came about when I was invited to a party at which I didn’t know many of the people very well: I had already consumed a couple of cans when a guy I sort of knew (who I played rugby with, which should have been an indication) took a bottle of Southern Comfort, poured it into a mixing jug like one uses for cooking, splashed in about two thirds lemonade, and then sat me down on a chair with the jug and a straw. It’s not really important what happened during the rest of the night (I walked home talking to myself), but a hell of a lot of good music has used puns related to the beverage that fucked me up that night and all of the next morning. I’m a fan of Eyehategod’s Southern Discomfort and now you can count me in for Northern Discomfort, this split by two bands from Hartlepool and Liverpool in England, who have both sadly broken up as of writing this. The name is explained pretty clearly by the grim urban cover that they opt for, showing an alley that is unfortunate enough to boast three corpses, plus another candidate if the woman being threatened at knifepoint doesn’t exchange some commodity for her life. I don’t remember hearing that either city was quite that uncomfortable, though the death metal on display here is a good fit for the image.

Neuroma’s entrance to this two-way takes some beating, Bart Simpson curdling our ears with his soundbite of, “I think I see a dingo eating your baby,” which probably wasn’t a popular move much earlier than 2009 (when this was recorded), though it has become more acceptable in the extreme metal scene since then to have a cartoon character introduce your songs. Similar clips of amusement are to be found at the beginning of ‘Purple Reign’ (possibly a pervert PE teacher) and the end of ‘Malignant Vagrancy’, which perhaps trivialises the homeless problem with a clip of someone shrieking, “I don’t have any change!” The music is a bit more serious, fat modern death with a slight technical bent blasting out of the spaces between the samples, replete with a few piggy growls and some skillful soloing. The major draw is surely the riffs though, which benefit from a fat production and some slamming grooves, though said grooves remain more of an Obituary product than Whitechapel.

Dawn of Chaos show up to the party when I’m already thoroughly discomforted, then proceed to do more damage than their fellow northerners. I’m not going to pretend that I prefer the likes of ‘Worms’ and ‘Death’s Masterpiece’ to ‘Dingoes Ate My Baby’, but there is something nastier about the grimier production and lower, throatier of Paul Hartburn’s vocals. The output here is of slightly more traditional death metal, closer to genre bigwigs such as Deicide and their Floridian brethren, though there is also some modern technicality thrown into the changing rhythms, plus a few more pig squeals and a glimmer of cartoon life in ‘Worms’ that is too quick to identify as one character or another. It’s not a death metal guest anyway, that’s for sure.

The pairing of these two outfits makes sense on more than purely geographical considerations, the bands forging similar paths through the UK underground and chasing similar aesthetics during their active years. On this split, the higher production values and more instantly gratifying approach of Neuroma gets my nod, though more staunch death metallers may prefer the more brutal bombardment of Dawn of Chaos. Whichever your tastes lie with, one thing’s for sure - it’s grim up north.