The heavy music underground boasts a proud tradition of producing two-piece bands who, seemingly in contravention of the laws of physics, produce a racket louder than some ‘full’ bands ever manage to rouse. Big Business, Bismuth, Black Cobra and (less alphabetically) Tuskar, Human Leather and Monolithian to name a few – through groaning amps and shuddering skins they attest that two is very much company.
This split, then, is simply further proof of the might of two – two duos, two songs apiece. Or it would have been, had Lincoln’s Temple Steps not expanded their line up by two after a silent period in the wilderness these last few years. Still, they’ve done so by folding in fellow Lincolnite two-piece Buffalode, so this split is really a case of three duos (that creaking sound you can hear is this tenuous review structure beginning to buckle under the mounting pressure of scrutiny, if you wondered).
Kicking things off are Nottingham influence-inhalers Shrykull, who blast a rock-salt spray of sludge, doom, grindcore and black metal tropes directly at face level. The perfectly titled ‘The Misanthrope’ pierces with a lance of feedback before slow, snaking drums pick up a groove only to stutter and wrong-foot. Bloated chords grind over hissing cymbals, unhurriedly murderous, an aural Jason Voorhees. Stabs of atonality jar, breaking up the hefty revolving riffing, punctuated by scalding shrieks. Gaining inexorable momentum, built up by an irresistible kick groove, the track slowly climbs, chugs and skips home to a wall of feedback.
The theme of cynicism persists with a cover of Grief’s ‘I Hate The Human Race’; a more guttural, lumbering, animalistic beast than the original cut. Roaring and striding, it slithers uneasily between modes, running scared from wretched vocal layers, a bludgeoning slab falling like a head-crushing capstone on the first half of the split.
The freshly reanimated Temple Steps’ first offering, ‘Nameless’, buzzes with stoner riffing, slowly slinking forward, spurred on by thumping toms and rushing cymbals. A huge, grinding bass riff barges in, pursued by guttural howls as clattering snare picks up the pace into a bouncing rhythm. The thick fug of bass fuzz reeks of ‘Dopethrone’ era Electric Wizard, and as the vocals fall into an echoing well a fittingly doomy rhythmic drive takes flight before animalistic howling swallows it whole.
Closer ‘Snapped Crook’ is instantly dour, tortured shrieks echoing in in the distance as the bass bursts to life, slow and snakelike over pounding, tribal toms. Chords ring into negative space before the track drops into throaty, unsettling whispers and frail guitars. The drums usher in quaking, spiteful chords, dropping like a lead factory roof before suddenly stopping, leaving only the mournful sounds of rain and death-rattling growls.
A lesson in efficiency, this split does exactly what it needs to; comes in, delivers a masterclass in ‘orrible noise, doesn’t overstay its welcome, and gets out, leaving a ringing of ears and a definite sense of wanting more. It allows Temple Steps to debut their new direction and Shrykull to keep up the momentum built from their 2018 self-named debut.
Split is released via Trepanation Recordings on 6th November and can be pre-ordered here.
Words: Jay Hampshire