Split recordings are a somewhat risky proposition. As a concept, splits call for a certain level of coherence, while demanding some semblance of variety at the same time. After all, if you’re looking for a two-fer, there’s little reason for each side of the record to sound exactly the same. Thankfully, Canadian death metal groups Fumigation and The Path of R’lyeh understand this dynamic, and have released an excellent, cohesive, yet appropriately diverse death metal onslaught with Invasion.
To be clear, “diverse” is a word I use here exclusively in the context of death metal. If you are not a fan of the metal subgenre in any of its manifestations, you will probably not find anything here that will change your mind. This is some straight up technical/brutal death metal that is relentless and suffocating throughout. That being said, this is some exceptionally good death metal that any fans of the style will most certainly appreciate.
The record is split in two, with Fumigation opening the proceedings with “Arachnophobia”, which after a very brief ambient interlude wastes little time displaying exactly what the listener is in for over the next three tracks. Fumigation’s style of death metal balances technical elements with a nice dose of the old school, never feeling too mechanically overbearing or instrumentally underwhelming. The vocals follow in a more traditional death metal growl as opposed to the swine-like squeals of brutal death, creating a nice counterpoint to the varied technical and sometimes brutal guitar work. The opening track contains a few passages that are so groove heavy that they are reminiscent of Immolation’s recent material. This style of groove continues in the shorter and more varied “Forced Vaginal Harbourage”, which despite its grotesque name offers a compelling continuation of the musical themes presented in the first track. “Earwigs and Earwax” presents a humorous spoken-word interlude that eventually leads us to Fumigations most brutal track, “A Beard Full of Maggots”. This is where the hints of Fumigation’s more brutal bent culminate in a boiling stew of guitar violence that is as punishing as it is satisfying. A fitting end to a great first half.
The Path of R’yleh’s side, while exploring some of the same themes musically as Fumigation’s contribution, is a much more punishing affair. The production on this side of the record, unlike the first, is raw and jagged, allowing the more brutal elements of the music to shine through with clarity and power. This emphasis on a more organic, less polished sound is immediately evident in opening track “Dream Eater”, which is nothing short of an absolutely blistering death metal assault on the senses. Here, overt technicality is put to the side in order for a more brutal approach to take center stage. Vocals are guttural and fierce, and include some passages of that piggish squeal we all know and love. This theme of brutality with a raw edge continues through the rest of The Path of R’lyeh’s side of the split, culminating in the world-destroying finale that is “Y’ha-Nthlei’s Awakening”, which is an absolutely relentless beating of a track, and a powerful closing statement to the record.
Overall, it’s hard for death metal fans to go wrong with this release. Both bands are well worth watching for their future output, and this split is a thoroughly enjoyable listen both in halves and as a whole. Highly recommended.