Released: October 14, 2014
Format Reviewed: mp3 (160 kbps)
Feature: Split Personalities
By: Kris Kotlarik
This review marks the first edition of a new feature called “Split Personalities,” in which a CD has two or more artists performing on it. In order to qualify for this feature, each band must have at least two tracks on it, and the scoring works as a battle of the bands in which a winner will be declared based on their contributions to the CD. Given the global theme of this page, it only makes sense that these three post-metal bands are from three different countries: Poland, France, and Italy. Without further adieu, let’s break this thing down.
Location: Kraków, Poland
Genre: Post-metal/Doom Metal
Fleshworld, with one full-length album and one demo release under their belts, begins their three-song appearance with some movie samples over a simple rock groove. This goes on for about a minute before we hear some harsh Polish vocals. The first standout moment comes midway through their first track, “Krag,” when it morphs into an Alcest-sounding black metal groove, followed by a simple, yet effective guitar lead.
“Petla” begins with a bass line that sounds quite similar to that of Silversun Pickups’ “Well Thought-Out Twinkles, a song I have always enjoyed. With that bass line continuing for much of the track, that makes this track a solid listen on that basis alone. Much like “Krag,” it takes an uptempo turn in the second half, ramping up some added energy to go with it.
At nine minutes in length, “Rezygnacja” begins in droning fashion, gradually building up until the vocals come in at around 2:30 in a manner that reminds me of Norway’s Virus. Arguably my favorite section on Fleshworld’s appearance here comes a little before 5:00 following another blast beat section. Everything slows down to make way for a heavy, crunch bass line guided by a soaring guitar riff.
Overall: Solid music, but the vocals are monotonous and there is little variety in the song structures. The bassist shines here, often providing the backbone for each track.
Location: Paris, France
Also making a three-song appearance is this upstart French quintet, but they don’t have a nine-minute effort like Fleshworld, making their tracks only a few seconds longer than Viscera’s two tracks. It starts promising, with a droning loop playing over a distorted sample, before it quickly rolls into a bruising hardcore romp that doesn’t let up for much of the rest of their run time on this disc. The best individual segment comes on “The Decline,” in which a 30-second segment that sounds like it came straight from a horror film completely changes the scope of the track midway through.
“Epilogue” starts slowly, but the buildup doesn’t yield much in return, giving way to a plodder of a track that gets better towards the end. There’s an extremely aggressive part as the music fades that could have turned into something spectacular, but is never given the chance to go anywhere.
Overall: May be better suited for those who have a stronger appreciation for the hardcore subgenre than I do. Too many good moments go unexplored.
Location: Plaisance, Italy
Genre: Blackened Post Metal
Out of these three bands, Viscera was the one that stood out from the first listen. The amount of stylistic variation in these two songs is rather surprising in contrast to what the previous two bands brought to the table. Viscera, who has been around since 2000, has changed styles throughout their career and it shows here.
“Versus” leads you into believing that it’s just a punishing heavy metal track before the 2:30 mark, when an incredibly catchy riff comes into the fold and carries on for much of the remaining six minutes. Amazingly, the group works that riff in many different ways in a sterling example of exceptional songwriting. The vocals here are quite harsh, and what’s even more surprising is how effective their clean vocals are in limited use, as seen in their cover of “Nobody’s Diary” by Yazoo. These clean vocals sound like Dave Grohl (of Foo Fighters’ fame), and then we go into more high-energy heaviness.
In trying to find viable comparisons to this band, it occurred to me that I couldn’t think of a single group that combines their harsh vocals with what seems to be repeated riffs done in a number of different ways. More than anything else, I think Viscera’s songwriting, as shown on these two tracks, is worthy of further experimentation into their discography.
Overall: It takes true talent to craft songs around a small amount of riffs and still make interesting music. These guys have it.