When two great bands come together to make a split record, there is always some risk involved. There is always the chance that one band outdoes the other and comes up with something amazing, while the other band writes something average or throws in a reworked b-side. Luckily for this split, this isn’t the case as it sees two of the German-speaking world’s hottest bands trade some searing punches, while retaining their trademark sounds.
RELEASE DATE: 15 April 2016 LABEL: Crazysane Records
HEADS. have been honoured with taking the a-side of the record and they do what they do best with a song called “Soothe”. A dirt heavy mood-swing that features everything that HEADS. put on display on their debut album. What I specifically love about this band is singer Ed’s low, dragging voice, and the way in which he always seems to tell stories in his lyrics. Not in the British prog kind of way, where stories are build up in the verses, giving more detail as the song progresses, but in a more ominous way, where the story has already happened and the listener is surrounded by a dark cloud of facts. On “Soothe” however, the singing is rather sparse and only near the end of the song does Ed break out into intense screaming. Yet only after a tempo change has taken place – at which I frowned at first, but which proved to be a very apt ending to this song with an short but intense outbreak of heavy riffing and screaming.
The split is a very good way forward for this band, even though it is very much in line with the material on “Debut.” I’ve compared the band with Savages before, and they made a very interesting switch from being an annihilating post-feministic war machine on their debut album, to being a more thoughtful act that balances violence with introspection and elegance on “Adore Life”. It would be very interesting to see a similar progression with HEADS. in the future. I think the style of music the guys play is great, but it needs to become future proof at some point. The guitar-bass-drum set-up has been hardened by time, but the stylistic bases of their music – grunge, stoner rock, post-metal – have been going for a quarter century now, and a lot of interesting things have been happening in the meantime. However, “Soothe” has had one effect on me, and that is that it made me want to listen to “Debut.” again, and with more appreciation this time.
Closet Disco Queen cover the backside of this record with a hard rocking track called “Black Sorbet”. Again, this song is very much in line with what the band has shown on their self-titled debut album. Insane drumming, courtesy of Luc Hess and matchless riffing on the guitar by Jonathan Nido. Both members of The Ocean Collective do no lesser job here than they did on their previous album, and thus it makes them subject to the same criticism from before. “Black Sorbet” is a great song, but it does nothing new, and there is room for such criticism now. Not to denounce the creative process of both bands, but to cultivate a spirit of progression. Split records like these are an excellent opportunity to try out new sounds, to experiment a little, and that is what this record lacks, from both bands.
However, this does not mean that this split is garbage can material. Both songs are top-notch and they are in a sense extensions of what these awesome bands have been doing for over a year now. “Soothe” and “Black Sorbet” solidify these bands as the hardest rocking acts on the scene and this split is a document that seals the deal.
Both songs are mixed and mastered by Marcus Lindberg (Cult of Luna), who also mastered the previous work of both bands, so they sound fresh but also like themselves. As the name implies, this split is for sale as a 7” vinyl pressing – 222 hand numbered pieces, half of them in white wax, the other half are clear – and can be ordered through Crazysane Records.