reviewed by Paul J. Comeau | Monday, June 27th, 2011

Grind technicians Agoraphobic Nosebleed and hardcore veterans Despise You team up for the first time on this split.

The Despise You tracks on here represent the band’s first recorded output in nearly a decade, and represent some of their best work to date.  Alternating from blazing fast thrashing to slow and mid-tempo breakdown and chorus parts, these songs are sure to appeal to fans of fast hardcore.  “Fear’s Song” and “You Can’t Fix Me, Don’t Trip” are two songs of particular note that showcase the band’s musical diversity and ability to write catchy riffs, of which there are plenty on this record — but “Painted Gray” is the song where all their divergent sounds combine into a little over a minute of pure hardcore awesomeness.  “Cedar Ave. (Was The Best Place To Watch People Ascend To Heaven),” the closer to their contribution to the record, is a cool, less hectic instrumental track also of note.

The seven Agoraphobic Nosebleed tracks on this release see the band continuing to evolve their unique avant-grind sound.  Their first song, “Half Dead,” is a slow, sludgy, psychedelic sounding affair that lulls the listener into a false sense of relative calm before the breakneck “As Bad As It Is…” thrashes the band into high gear. With tightly crafted riffs and epic soaring solos, as well as the ability to slow down seemingly out of nowhere, Agoraphobic Nosebleed continue to demonstrate their mastery of complex and technical grind.

I found it interesting that both bands have incorporated female vocalists into their bands for a dual male/female vocals sound.  While I am generally not a fan of the multiple vocalist gimmick, Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Despise You both pull off the multiple vocalist arrangement well, making it sound natural and not kitschy.  After repeated listens, my appreciation for both bands only increased.  This split is a great introduction to them, and existing fans of either band should be sure to pick it up as well.  Highly recommended.

(Relapse Records, PO Box 2060, Upper Darby, PA 19082)

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