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Ghouls in a grudge match - 72%

autothrall, November 12th, 2011

Two ambulatory corpses facing off with crude weapons. Two bands facing off in an unmitigated showdown of hostility. Fortunately, the winner is the listener here, because both Californians Sacrificial Slaughter and Oklahoma's Enfuneration bring the riffs along with the bloodshed, the energy with the evisceration, and the grisly charm amidst the concussions. American Death Thrash is all too accurate the title, because at least for the first half of the split, that is the hybrid being performed.

Sacrificial Slaughter are the more experienced of the two, having formed a decade ago, shifting through tons of personnel, and issued a pair of full-lengths in 2002 and 2009. Their material is the brighter produced here, wrought from chunky thrash tone, brutal and pissed off layered vocals that remind me of the old Deicide duality, and a lot of youthful vitality. The drums are intense, so much that when they hit that brick house double bass sequence in "80 Proof Justice" they almost steal away the whole mix, but the guitars are dense and violent in the vein of the Canadian Razor's 1988 epic Violent Restitution. They definitely incorporate the death influence through the vocals, but also from a few of their more clinical riffs like those that open "Compound Fracture" or burst through "Acid Reflex" on tremolo cocaine-lines beneath the ominous, echoed vocals.

Enfuneration are more of a pure, brutal death metal outfit, sort of a mix of Krisiun, Deicide, Malevolent Creation and Suffocation, but no less exciting even if the production of their tracks comes out a lot more primitive. Sick blasting, hoarse and bloody gutturals carved through with descending tremolo riffs and a ton of dynamic shake-ups. Straight from "Insidious Domain", the onset of their half of the split, they juggernaut the fuck out of the listener. It wouldn't mean much if they couldn't compose the riffs to back their blunt force, and even if they're not the most original band on the block, I found their contributions thoroughly entertaining, especially the closer "Grieving Process Denied" or the scorching "Stygian Darkness".

In all truth, I wouldn't say that either of the bands was writing the sort of instantly memorable, sticky material that could thrust them into the spotlight, but both are seasoned, tight and they keep the pacing both varied and frenzied. The vocals are well done but not entirely distinct, and the leads and drumming are great in both cases, so it's just a matter of strengthening the core note progressions. That said, both bands bring an ample punishment to the point that I could not choose a favorite among them. Even though their respective sounds have been beaten to death, they manage to bring a fresh and invigorating edge to the proceedings, and there's simply no chance of becoming bored anywhere among the 42+ minutes of material.