Locrian / Continent Split

01/01/2009 § Leave a comment

Artist: Split Album / Collaboration
Title: Locrian / Continent Split
Label: Self Released
Genre: Drone/ Noise/ Death Metal/ Thrash Metal

Track Listing:

Side A:

Locrian – Burying The Carnival

Side B:

Continent – Widow Insitania; Gulf of Baiae; Bec Amica Rolls; C44-9W

This is a split release between Locrian and Continent

It’s been a while since I had the opportunity to come across a tape release, but in a time when most major computer manufacturers have whipped out their A-drives and even minidisks have been long-consigned to the Betamax hall of shame, there are some bands who look fondly on them with nostalgia. This is all very well but I have to wonder who really has a cassette player that they use regularly. Maybe people who shop at Dunn & Co and look forward to reruns of To The Manor Born, or who wax on about how Phil Collins ruined Genesis. I wouldn’t know.

But there is one thing that I really liked straightaway about this small, oblong package, which was the art. There’s not much you can cram onto a cassette inlay but there’s something eerily bleak about the black and white pictures in this split release, depicting forgotten, run down offices with hanging strip lighting, and car parks contained within ridged concrete slabs while wallflowers struggle to grow between the cracks. Sure, it’s a cliché especially over in the ambient scene but some clichés are still quite pleasing and this one seems to work even better when glimpsed through the clear plastic of this particular format. I can only hope that either band choose to preserve and expand on this theme for future releases.

Locrian take side A with the ear and brain-shredding cacophony that is Burying The Carnival. This harpy’s nightmare, clocking in at just under thirteen minutes, is an industrial wail of an opus. A long, pained guitar and feedback-ridden shriek with all the finesse of a thousand screeching pylons, and just as much power. The playing is divided into a droning, undercurrented bass hum that runs its full length and lays some kind of hellish foundation and a tinny, acute guitar line that skips and runs over it manically, playfully mocking its heaviness.

This is certainly noise with structure, though at first listen it may sound like a botched television transmission from the netherworld. The droning bass moan that underlies the track throughout is the closest I’ve heard an instrument come to sounding like a human scream. It’s the angst of a voice that doesn’t know what to say, the cry of a mind that can’t express itself and soon, like some otherworldly spectre being pulled against its will into a séance, we find ourselves in an almost ritualistic trance under the control of such horrific authority.

The guitar that plays over the top of the drone is a piercing hiss of notes, but which still manages to remain lucid, even tuneful in places. Playing around with basic melodies and structures it hints that there is some method beyond the noise whilst we get lost in the dizzy whirl of the maelstrom. As the drones and lead guitar build and combine, Burying The Carnival thickens into a stupor and we find a certain aesthetic in its ugliness. This isn’t just disorganised, slapdash clamour but a bold, ordered statement about the ambience of intensity and when the lead guitar drops, leaving only the moaning background hum, it feels as if we’ve been released from a grip that we had no control over, such is the compulsive nature of what Locrian manage to create.

The B side is taken by Continent, a death/thrash metalcore band who have an obsession with train wrecks, coincidentally enough. Well, according to the pictures on their MySpace page anyway. Within 16 minutes Continent worm their way through four tracks of pretty standard metal by constructing songs which are mostly based around repetitive melodic death riffs which, though not particularly catchy, still manage to deliver something of a punch. In contrast to side A of the split it’s something far more generic and though I welcomed its all too familiar battery when it started, it didn’t really hold my attention all that long.

However, I’ll forgive these guys somewhat since it’s early days for them. The four tracks may be sloppy in places and the drumming’s a little too ambitious but I get the impression that Continent are in for the long haul. There are some parts which even reminded me of Death in places and there are some nice progressive passages which save it from being a homogenous onslaught. If they just improved on the definition of their songs there might be a chance their next effort could make them stand out and there are moments in Bel Amica Rolls and C44-9W that provide some variety and stop the music being indiscriminate mush, though unfortunately it’s not quite enough to save it from being just another run of the mill demo.

Limited to a hundred copies only, there aren’t many of these cassettes to go round but both bands urge you to contact them directly should you want any of the last remaining copies. Failing that, and if the lure of holding something physical in your hands is way too last century, you’ll find all the tracks are streamed on both band’s MySpace pages. Overall it’s an eye-opening and ear-drum taxing experience. You can interpret that any way you want, and you probably wouldn’t be wrong.

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