The best split releases are ones that give you something that excites you and offers an appetizer serving of music from bands that have a bit of commonality but aren’t really cut from the same cloth. If you’re getting two bands that do the exact same thing, then what’s the point?
One of the year’s best and most satisfying splits is ready for release next week, a bright gem in the late year burial ground of releases where not a whole lot of noteworthy releases pop up. That would be the one that pairs up Noothgrush, the eccentric, go-at-their-pace sludge doom warriors from Oakland, Ca., with Japanese death cult Coffins. These bands do not have a ton in common sonically, and they have even less in the manner in which beach releases music. But when paired together, it works. Noothgrush is a band with an extensive amount of releases but only one proper full-length, that being 1998’s “Erode the Person.” On Coffins’ end, they, too, offer up a bunch of mini releases, but they also regularly put out full-length recordings, their most recent being July’s “The Fleshland.” These bands smartly combined for this devastating split being released by Southern Lord that is well worth your time and money.
Noothgrush got a nice reintroduction to a wider audience a couple years ago with their live compilation “Live for Nothing,” also released by Southern Lord, and last year they contributed a song to a split with Suppression. The three songs available here provide their most extensive work in years and hopefully a sign the machine is moving full bore again. The lineup is mostly the same as we’ve come to know over the years, with Gary Niederhoff on bass (he also has done guitars and vocals over the years), Russ Kent on guitars, and Chiyo Nukaga on drums. The big change is the addition of new singer Dino Sommese, who carved his path with bands such as Asunder, Ghoul, and Phobia. The refurbished unit sounds hungry and powerful, and these three cuts are a real treat.
We open with “Humandemic,” a bluesy, slithering, savage cut that is crushing, sludgy, and mean. Sommese’s vocals work really well with it, and the band sounds right at home. That leads to an updated version of “Jundland Wastes,” a band trademarked Star Wars-referencing cut that has been featured on other releases but gets new life with this 2013 version. The song remains filthy and awesome, the grooves are just as nasty, and this update is earth-crushing wonder. Closer “Thoth” pays tribute to late Bay Area DJ Cy Thoth and includes warped, paranoid, but really fun samples of his voice, warning of all kind of atrocities and opining that the world is a prison. The song is full of slow-driving doom, furious, snarling vocals, noise ringing out and piercing your ear drums, and all-out, muddy violence. It’s a hellacious finish to these three cuts, and one of the great surprises of the year in that we actually have new Noothgrush material. Hopefully there is much more to come in the near future.
Coffins, of course, have made a name for themselves due to their ugly, gory, hellacious death metal, and they have been work horses, touring relentlessly and adding tons of releases to their already bustling canon. Aforementioned “The Fleshlands,” their Relapse debut, was another dose of blood-splattered fun and doom-coated fury that highlights what this band does so well. The Coffins fellows, in case you need an update, are vocalist Ryo (who switched over from drums), guitarist Uchino, bassist Koreeda, and drummer Satoshi, and as you’ll hear on their two songs on this split effort, they have no problem churning out a ton of material and keeping everything fresh and brutally savage.
“Drown in Revelation” greets you with impossibly heavy thrashing, a mean, nasty disposition, and throaty, animalistic vocals that truly hammer home the violence and horror of Coffins’ way of life. Every time you think the song can’t possibly get heavier, it does, and these guys just blow shit apart and let the body parts land wherever gravity places them. “The Wretched Path” has gurly, throat-mangling vocals, a killer pace, and a totally nasty death groove that just pulverizes. Razor-sharp lead guitar work snakes over top the chaos underneath, some bluesy hues erupt from the carnage, and the song ends with a pocket of devastating death metal that’s some of the heaviest you’re going to hear anywhere.
This split just obliterates, and at 29 minutes, you’re going to get just enough to keep you full and no more than that. Leaving people wanting more always is a good idea, and no one in their right mind would complain if these songs are merely here to tide you over before new chaos comes at you from these two hulking beasts. Go grab this filthy bastard and make your Thanksgiving week as morbid as it can possibly be.
For more on Noothgrush, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Noothgrush/193662010656114
For more on Coffins, go here: http://www.coffins.jp/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.southernlord.com/store.php
For more on the label, go here: http://www.southernlord.com/