Alpinist

01. Abgerichtet
02. Subjection
03. Steps
04. Postmodern Problems
05. Unwanted Encore
06. Quelle Valeur Reste?

Masakari

07. XVII – The Obscene Underbelly
08. XIX -Void Manufacturing
09. XVIII – Sleep
10. XXII – Q. Culture? A. Resist
11. XXIV – Trapped in the Mold
12. XXI – Progress
13. XXIII – Hexenhammer
14. XX – Modulation

[08/03/11]
[Halo of Flies(NA)/Alerta Antifascista(EU)]

The split LP is on life support. In today’s world, where bedroom producers are a dime a dozen, it seems pointless – but perhaps it’s dead not because of the bedroom producers, but perhaps there aren’t enough. The split is a great idea on paper, and even more so when executed correctly. If executed correctly, both bands earn each others’ fans. If failed, nothing is gained and more is lost.

What we have here is a split that is less of a split and more of a two-part full length album. With Alpinist‘s more sludge-based hardcore and Masakari‘s sludge-influenced powerviolence, the bands have proven why the split LP is a great idea.

Alpinist waste little time in getting into what they’re doing. Within the first seconds you’re greeted to a crushing atmosphere that broods into the main sound of the band.  This sound is a near-perfect amalgamation of sludge, hardcore, and post-hardcore. The guitars are brilliant, providing lead and rhythm changes with ease. They also provide some of the tastiest riffs I’ve ever heard in an album of this style;  the bass is thunderous, absolutely pounding you in the chest. Drummer Hendrik is highly skilled behind the kit, employing nuanced and very technical drumming – especially for this type of music – and the vocals contain a metric ton of intensity, switching in between English and German.

You can hear every ounce of emotion, intensity and care that they put into this. All of the songs are arranged perfectly, and there are times where the music breathes so the listener doesn’t suffer from mental fatigue.  Because of this their half  is very easy to take in at one time. The songs are distinctive, each having their own personality – a huge feat for this kind of music. Furthermore the band can bring in an absolutely beautiful part out of nowhere to tie the piece together: the track “Quelle Valeur Reste” is perhaps one of the most beautiful tracks I’ve heard from a band I’d never expect. The song begins very atmospherically, allowing time to breathe before bringing in the band – at which point you  just start to look at the ceiling/sky and think about everything. It’s that beautiful, and is made even more beautiful considering the track preceding it, “Unwanted Encore“, is a total behemoth, which makes the contrast that much sweeter.

The second band on the split, Masakari, is a much more familiar name.  The band is from Cleveland, OH, and they play a unique style of powerviolence, meshing it with sludge to create one of the heaviest sounds I’ve ever heard.  The band takes longer to get their core sound across, as they allow their side to build for a longer period then Alpinist.

Clean tremolo and a very unassuming arpeggiated chord progression start things off  the band plunge into complete and utter chaos.  The atmosphere this band builds with this is downright scary. I felt like I was being grabbed by the throat and thrown down, repeated ad infinitum – and I didn’t mind it one bit.

The band let off the intensity occasionally to bring a sweet melodic part to the formula, but most of the side consists of 20 minutes of sweet riffage, pounding drums, monstrous bass, and super raw, intense vocals.  While I can definitely see some people suffering mental fatigue(and it is harder to listen to this in one sitting than Alpinist), the short run time does help, and it’s definitely a fun ride.  While the songs aren’t as distinctive as Alpinist’s, the highlight of this split is on the Masakari side with the track “XXI – Progress“.  There is so much groove in the drums and awesome riffage in the guitar it’s unbelievable – the track is built so enormously well.  “XX – Modulation” is a fitting conclusion; it’s absolutely frantic, and is the guitars’ best performance next to “XXI – Progress“. The octave chords behind the songs ending are beautiful, and provide a great contrast to the trip through hell you’ve just endured.

For me, the Alpinist side to be the better side on the split.  I can’t really find much to criticize about it. Although the split may be dead for the moment, Alpinist and Masakari have proved with this that it’s still a great idea that, in my opinion, should be used more in the metal community.  I’ve become a fan of Alpinist through Masakari. See?  The idea works when it’s done correctly, which they have surely done here.

Alpinist/Masakari’s Split gets:

4.5/5

- GR

[Ed. - you can listen to the Alpinist half here, the Masakari half here, or download it free here, totally legit!]