It might be 2016, but the art of the 4-way split is not dead! Unspeakable Axe Records is keeping things alive with their second such split in a relatively recent period. This release once again sees 4 death metal bands from a variety of backgrounds coming together to create a unique offering of crushing brutality.
The first band up is Gatecreeper. If you worship Entombed, Dismember, Unleashed, and the like, this is going to be the band for you. This band’s riffs crush posers by being as downtuned and crunchy as possible. If the HM2 pedal is not in play here, then Gatecreeper has found an impressive imitator. Though the band does spend quite a bit of time in plodding mid-paced territory (which is where they are at their heaviest), they speed things up after a couple of minutes to give your neck a faster workout. Even as someone who never got that much into Swedish death metal, Gatecreeper hits a very satisfying spot.
Expectations for this release should be pretty high after the first song, and the good news is that Homewrecker still manages to annihilate them. Make no mistake, “Perpetrators of Annihilation” is far and away the best song on this release. It has everything to offer in terms of speed, but where it truly sets itself apart from the rest of this split is near the end when the band launches into a spacier, atmospheric section. These moments overlap clean guitars with huge, distorted ringing notes. The bass climbs higher into the mix at this point, creating a dark, disturbed atmosphere. The end result is terrifying, but incredibly enjoyable. While it goes on for quite a while (the track does break the 6-minute barrier), it is a hypnotic trance that is easy to get lost in.
The third slot on this record is an unfortunate one because nobody is living up to Homewrecker’s song. Outer Heaven, however, does a decent enough job. The song opens with a riff that, if tuned slightly higher, would feel pretty close to an old-school Floridian death metal riff (think: Death; the track is named “Death Worship”, after all). This song quickly changes into a more predictable Swedish-esque sound. For the most part, this track is well executed, but the band’s vocalist is far too low in the mix. Nevertheless, this doesn’t hurt Outer Heaven too much, and “Death Worship” is a serviceable track for this split.
Scorched closes out the record in a slightly different direction. “Autopsy Incomplete” opens with the shrill sounds that one would expect in a horror movie. The vocals eventually come in, with the band providing only a partial accompaniment, and the result is pure terror mixed with brutality. Once the band comes in for real, Scorched still manages to keep that petrifying vibe for quite a while, before exploding into a more typical death metal song. This song has some fun syncopated rhythms to it, and is definitely a lot different from the Swedish death sounds of Gatecreeper and Outer Heaven.
All in all, this 4-way split is another rousing success for Unspeakable Axe Records. Each of the 4 bands definitely has something interesting to offer, and while only Homewrecker pushes the limits of the subgenre, this release is enjoyable from front to back. The EP format definitely works better than the full-length for this style of split. Ultimately, if you’re a serious fan of discovering new death metal bands, this split is an essential purchase!
"Carved Into Stone" (Gatecreeper)
"Perpetrators of Annihilation" (Homewrecker)
4.25/5 or 85%.
Written by Scott