Thursday, 15 September 2011

Alpinist/Masakari - Split LP

Split LP
Alerta Antifascista (EU)

The split, for me, is an often overlooked and undervalued way of getting your music out there. I’ve lost count of the number of bands I discovered just by picking up a split release by a band I’ve already heard of. Unfortunately, in this digital age, it seems that they’re firmly the realm of the underground nowadays, and often they’re given limited print runs. Still, the split is a valuable tool, and in this case, it was an introduction to Germany’s Alpinist, whom I might not have picked up on straight away were it not for Masakari, who came to my attention last year with the excellent ‘The Prophet Feeds’.

Alpinist are up first on this split and they don’t mess about in getting to the action. Their sludgy hardcore finds full effect on opener ‘Abgerichtet’. You’ll notice the chunky riffage straight away – it’s got a lovely, thick tone to it, pounding away for much of the duration of the split. The tempo varies well, their drummer Henrik putting in a shift on. If you thought this band couldn’t surprise you any more, just wait to you hear  ‘Quelle Valuer Reste’, their final track on the split. Its long atmospheric opening isn’t what you’d expect from a band that put in such a dynamic on those first five tracks, but it’s mightily impressive. It’s a wondrous moment and it’s enough to rubber stamp this split alone as quality stuff.

The Masakari side isn’t quite as impressive for my liking, but that’s not to say it ain’t no good; far from it – its fecking heavy and intense as you like, as anyone familiar with their debut album will know. Their opener, ‘VIII: The Obscene Underbelly’ is a slow burner that eventually roars into life, and from then on in, Masakari are right in your face. If you don’t believe me, tracks like ‘X: Sleep’, at a fleeting 72 seconds in length, will slap the slumber right out of you. It’s a full-on powerviolence-tinged assault, reminiscent of acts like Trap Them and scene luminaries Cursed, and it’s like being chased through a house of horrors – by the time ‘XXIII: Hexenhammer’ and ‘XX: Modulation’ come along to close the split, you’ll find your heart pounding and yourself wishing you’d never gone in there. Your brain might have other ideas though, given how impressive this band is as well.

Arguably the split release of the year, these two bands match up well enough with one another to be packaged in such a way, but there’s enough diversity here to identify these as potential scene leaders in this continued resurgence of crust-caked hardcore.

Peter Clegg

Both sides of the split available for streaming on their respective Bandcamp pages

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