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Fist in the Face of Barry Gibb - 70%

Cat III, November 15th, 2018

Sabbat start this split off strong, with “Baby, Disco Is Fuck”, the best use of “fuck” in a song title since Autopsy's “Burnt to a Fuck” two years prior. Admittedly there was already a song titled “Disco Is Fuck” (sans “Baby,”) from 1985, made by Metal Sword, a band you haven't heard of and neither had I until I checked if there were other versions of this song. Being die-hards of the highest order, it's possible Sabbat were making reference to that song, but this isn't a cover. This is actually a reworking of their track “Panic in the Head”. Being that this was over a decade after writing that song, you might expect this to be better produced, but no, it's raw as hell. It's a mite better than previous versions which isn't saying much considering those were demo, rehearsal and live recordings. You can make out the song which is a punkier affair than their usual blackened metal. Identifying the bass guitar and snare drum will take focus and possibly multiple listens. Everything is gauzed in hiss and the higher sounds are especially harsh. Good times will be had.

The next two bands are Scandinavian thrashers. Sweden's Gehennah use vocals typical of the Teutonic and Brazilian scenes with production to match, but have the riffing and attitude of one of the less serious American bands. They're all about partying, having fun and, on this song, massacring disco dancers (which really is a subset of having fun). There's a cool solo before the vocals kick in and the production is a step up. Better mixing makes the bass and snare more audible, though it's still far from polished. Going into this, Infernö were the only band I was unaware of. These Norwegians hold their own, starting off with relatively complex (for this split) leads, followed by some heavy and pounding thrash. As a pleasant surprise, Hazardous Pussy Desecrator's vocals dodge the obvious influences, opting for a screech that reminds me of Sabina Classen from Holy Moses (based on what I listened to of their Downtown Hades LP on YouTube, this similarity is less apparent on a proper studio recording).

Bestial Warlust make an odd choice to close this split. As one of the progenitors of war metal, their objectives and aesthetics differ from the other bands even if there are shared influences and some overlap in fanbase. The other three bands on this split are anything but appealing to the casual or uninitiated, yet Bestial Warlust manage to be even less accessible. If that's not enough, the production for their song, “Beerz and Blood”, is worst by far. We're talking Merzbow territory here, except there is an actual song somewhere beneath the noise. The only thing consistently audible is the bleary mass of guitar. Vocals and drums do sidle in like a ghost in the corner of vision. It's satisfying once you grab onto what seems like a riff and the song starts to take shape by however little. I was pretty sure there's a short, chaotic solo at the end which I was able to confirm by listening to a live version. Such production is not suited to everything and I can only take so much, but sometimes it scratches a certain itch.

Gehennah's track “Discodeath” is available as a bonus track on reissues of King of the Sidewalk. Infernö's “Metal Attack” is included on their comp Metal Commando Attack. Sabbat's track is only available here and on the pricey Envenometal comp. Aside from a live version, this split is the only place to get Bestial Warlust's track. That's pretty good value for a decades-old split. Given the anti-disco stance of the release, it makes sense that the production is in complete opposition to pop sensibilities. Joakim Lindengren's illustration on the cover gives off a Mad magazine vibe, and if you get the other two in the series, the covers show a sequential story of a pair of John Travolta wannabes being trampled by some metalheads. There's no better soundtrack for smashing disco balls and roughing up some dancers in their tacky clothes.