We’re taught as kids to not judge books by their cover, and for the most part this is good advice. But a cover featuring an emperor sitting on his throne, riddled with arrow wounds was a case of love at first sight. The fact the record in question features two of the finest purveyors of death metal inspired hardcore (or hardcore inspired death metal depending on what’s your primary genre) in the form of Terminal Nation and KRUELTY is another reason for my resounding confidence.
Since the release of their mind shredding debut Holoscene Extinction, Terminal Nation have established themselves as ones to watch in the extreme music world. The anti-corporate, anti-fascist band’s music rails against the divided state of the USA in the early 21st century, and their mix of hardcore, grind and death metal makes them one of the heaviest young bands out there. Japan’s KRUELTY have a sound which is born from the same primordial ooze of influences as TN, but with an extra dose of doom inspired sludge for good measure. Both acts exemplify everything that is currently great about the heavier end of hardcore in 2022.
Terminal Nation kick things off with the grinding ‘Curators of Brutality’, a dense, angry mashup of South of Heaven-era Slayer, Obituary and early Strife. The track conjures up apocalyptic imagery but is edged with defiance as a gang vocal declares “You push, we push back”. They follow this with the gloriously named ‘Sacrificial Capital’ which starts off like Napalm Death playing an unreleased Emperor tune before turning into a lumbering groove-core monster. The Arkansas five piece’s final track on this split is the grimly menacing ‘Embalmed Crucifix’ which features KRUELTY’s Tatami on back-up vocals and seamlessly melds the best of 90’s death metal with beatdown hardcore as it culminates in a mosh part guaranteed to destroy rooms.
KRUELTY are no strangers to a good beatdown themselves, taking inspiration from Japanese legends such as Second to None, as well as more doom-laden death bands such as Asphyx and Coffins. ‘Submission’ starts as frantic, almost D-beat hardcore before descending in a doomy quagmire of sludge, with guitarist Zuma producing some of the evilest sounding riffs you’re likely to hear. ‘Under Your Pressure’ matches the intensity, with punishing drums and Terminal Nation’s Stan returning the favour by dropping some guest vocals.
At 25 minutes the split EP functions as a brilliant introduction to both bands, showcasing a level of intensity which is rarely matched in today’s hardcore/metal landscape.
The Ruination of Imperialism is out now via 20 Buck Spin and can be ordered here.
Words: Dan Cadwallader