Split releases are a great way for bands of a similar vein to collaborate or help get their respective names out to potentially different audiences. Even if unspoken, there’s probably a healthy sense of competition knocking around somewhere too. On Memento Mori, the upcoming split between Alabama based Noise Quintet Clawing, and collaborative industrial doom outfit Catafalque, this sense of friendly competition is practically palpable. Both bands seem to have developed various aspects of their respective sounds, and the results are being shown side by side.
The Clawing half comprises of one 23 minute track, split into four movements. Though not a prog rock epic, there’s a very clear, honest narrative running through this piece and Clawing do a fine job painting the stark story line. The vocals, akin to an intrusive thought, slowly become more twisted as the track progresses, and the soundscape behind it gradually becomes more outlandish. The last movement, ‘Etiquette’ is probably the biggest leap outside of the band’s usual repertoire, and feels almost like a slight nod to the upcoming Catafalque cuts. The group are able to ramp up the entropy of the instrumentation without it ever becoming a blast of white noise, and that controlled chaos pays dividends. The overall atmosphere of this track is equally tense, invasive and beautiful, with the only downside being the fatigue you may feel afterwards. Seasoned noisers will probably scoff at this and plough straight on, but a solid ear break may be needed to fully appreciate the second half.
Whilst Clawing seek to refine their sound, Catafalque look to new territories with their half of this split. Straying away from their doom metal tendencies and focussing more on house shaking drones, the duo have also introduced some new textures to their arsenal. ‘Signs of Stigmata’ is the clearest example of this, an atrophic slab of distortion which continually develops over it’s ten minute duration. Keeping with this theme of experimentation, the group also almost completely forego drums on this release. ‘The Parasite’ bucks this trend however, being their most industrial laden track to date. It’s short length is a bit of a shame, and a lack of Dan Dolby’s snarling vocals makes this track feel almost like wasted potential as a true crusher.
Both bands push their own boundaries on Memento Mori, and both have made clear strides in their corner of unsettling music. Clawing, though somewhat musically similar to their previous release, have shown a greater focus on longer compositions and narrative, whereas Catafalque have shown a certain degree of courage to experiment within their already experimental sound.
Words: Sean Elias