Every now and then I encounter someone with the tenacity to claim they “don’t like splits”. Said people can frankly fuck off back to the (probably boring and one-dimensional) cave they crawled up from, and this release is a perfect demonstration of why 7”s and splits still have their place in today’s volatile musical marketplace. In fact, the reason I was so excited about this split when it was announced was partly due to a split that appeared in 2005, specifically the 10” Coffins/Mala Suerte split. The Coffins side was crushing, but the (then unknown to me) Mala Suerte side utterly floored me. One sprawling ten-minute track of tortured, brutal and unrelentingly negative sludge that ended with Gary Rosas’ defeated howl of “Through this dysphoric scope/succumbing to aversions/I shall rid myself of life”. Their side of that split still holds up as a uniquely heavy slice of heartfelt doom, and leaves you feeling quite emotionally exhausted, and so I was delighted to see them sharing vinyl with the equally superlative Uzala (if you’re daft enough to need convincing that their début album is essential click here).
The Mala Suerte side is perhaps more melodic than on that 2005 split, but all the better for it – you can’t really repeat a supreme downer like that with any regularity! And so, this release veers less towards the sludge end of the heavy spectrum and more solidly towards traditional doom metal, with riffs that tow the line between atonal and melodic with grace and ease. Gary Rosas’ vocals are still as distinctive as ever, and are the major element to making their side as good as it is. It’s also notable for having lyrics that deal with conspiracy theories and the downtrodden nature of the working man (Count Raven did this back in the day, but mixed it with an irritatingly preachy Christian message) – it’s great to hear a doom metal band singing about the real misery that people can find themselves in these days thanks to the unscrupulous actions of governments and banks, especially set to such superior music.
The Uzala “Burned” side is just as good, and is a perfect match seeing as Boise’s finest are a band that are also not interested in just churning out the kind of run-of-the-mill doom metal that is so common these days. However, this track is different to the album in that it has less of the black metal atmosphere that permeated their whole début, and instead showcases fantastic vocal harmonizing from the unique Darcy Nutt, and the best lead wah tones I’ve heard in a long time courtesy of lead axe slayer Chad Remains, accompanied by the flawlessly heavy and tight rhythm section of Nick Phit and (relative) newcomer Chuck Watkins.
With each of the two bands also contributing their own stunning artwork (Rosas and Nutt), this split is a perfect rebuttal to those that say doom is dead and buried. Two uniquely heavy bands that stand head and shoulders over much of what gets labeled “heavy” (doom or otherwise).
Scribed by: Saúl Do Caixão