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A Cool Find and a Dud - 65%

Thumbman, December 4th, 2019

While to call them a crapshoot would be the understatement of the century, splits can be a really cool way to find new bands. I came for Thou and left utterly disappointed on that front. However, Black September was a neat little surprise and I'm glad I checked this out just for them. They mix a plethora of heavy styles in a cohesive way that feels totally natural. "Smoke Pigs" is a top candidate for worst Thou song I've ever heard, but what can you do?

Black September put in a really good effort for "Under the Rising." The song starts with a take on blackened hardcore that is surprising atmospheric - I can't help but envision smoldering embers in my mind's eye. Most of the blackened hardcore I've heard has been violent and raw, making this an enjoyable change of pace. While still leaning fairly hard on hardcore, later in the song they let their sludge influence fly and even throw in an atmospheric passage for good measure. It's a cool song, and I'll definitely be checking out more of Black September.

Thou on the underhand - what the fuck? They're one of my favourite sludge bands and I get that this is an earlier recording of theirs, but "Smoke Pigs" (such a clever song title, guys...) just flat out kind of sucks. They put forth a very muddy and grime-speckled stoner-sludge song that falls somewhere in between Eyehategod and Bongzilla. The production is kind of shit, the riffs and songwriting are whatever, and the whole thing kind of feels like a mess - and not in the good way that can often apply to raw sludge. The wildly tumbling toms that emerge later in the song might have sounded cool if not for the absolute shit drum tone. I know it might be a bit silly to rag on the lyrics for a song like this - but god damn guys, put in a bit of effort. The lyrics are essentially one of those angry ACAB Facebook rants where the person is typing faster than they can think. Police brutality makes me angry too, but if you're going to focus on political messages in your song at least put a bit of effort into it. These don't even feel like lyrics, it's just angrily reciting your political opinion. I feel like if you have a political message in your song and you just beat the listener over the head with it with no attention to quality of lyrics, no cleverness and no attempt to weave it into something more than an angry 3am internet rant, you have kind of failed as an artist.

Splits are a real mixed bag, and Thrive & Decay is exemplary of this. I love you Thou, but this "Smoke Pigs" wasn't even worth releasing and I feel like just crapping out such a dud is unfair to Black September who have clearly put a lot of effort to craft a song that is both atmospheric and crushing. This wasn't a complete waste of time, though - I discovered a new band that I'm eager to check out more of.