My fellow tube train passengers are not impressed. It’s 8.30am on a wet, windy Monday morning and we’re temporarily stuck between stations on London’s busiest underground network. A range of moods meet my glance about the carriage. There’s the “I’m sleepy, let me kid myself that between here and Tottenham Court Road I can catch another few Zs”, the “Fuck you, I’m so busy and important with my tailored suit and company iPhone that there’s simply no time for acknowledging anyone else” and the classic “Why do I do this every day?” brain-disengaged stare. If there’s one thing these people don’t want near them right now, it’s a bearded, black t-shirted, head-nodding commuter grinning ear to ear and blasting sludgy heavy metal as loud as possible through his headphones. But fuck it, that’s what they’ve got today, and if it’s doom-laden grooves on the breakfast menu, then what better than a split disc from two premier beasts from the UK’s new breed of E-string crumbling gargoyles: Dopefight and GURT.
Brighton bruisers Dopefight kick us off with their now trademark “riff first, ask questions if we can be arsed” approach to song-writing on ‘Stonk’ and ‘Green Solace’. The perfectly-titled first effort sees human wrecking-ball drummer Ant Cole and the muscular bass undertow of Paul Hale dragging the riff cannon that is Owen Carty through EyeHateGod-ish tar-pits seemingly on the banks of a volcanic marsh adjacent to the 666th gate to oblivion. The trio abruptly shift up a few gears into a Stonking, slamming groove as Carty fires riffs off the track’s summit as if they’re going out of trend. I can’t hear the lyrics through the gritty hail but it sounds like they’re most likely laying the hate down on something big time, as usual. ‘Green Solace’ is pacier; Hale’s monumental bass tone acting as a second guitar as the trio reminisce over the entire Bongzilla back-catalogue whilst lost in a vat of weed. The ‘Fight have been crushing venues up and down the country for a few years now and this is a simple, but deadly, build on 2010’s titanic ‘Buds’ record.
London-based blues-boozers GURT take over on side B. Jamie McCathie’s guitar was probably nicked from a wall-mount in a New Orleans bar; it sounds like someone has stuck a jump-lead up Billy Gibbons’ arse and lit him up like a yuletide Santa. ‘Soapfeast’ is a sweaty, crawling, Weedeater-esque cruncher and talismanic lead vocalist Gareth Kelly is the fudge atop this Mississippi mud-pie, his soulful, yet bone-rattling roar recalling the glory days of Jonny Morrow’s primal force in Iron Monkey. ‘Dudes with Beards with Cats’ is a quite simply a ridiculous concept, but shit me a new one and call me Geoffery does it work! Simon Edwards sounds like he’s beating every possible component of his drum kit into a pile of fine sawdust as a gutter-crawling, whiskey-belching, hooker-banging riff erupts from the bowels of the GURT. Kelly howls above the carnage, less like a dude with a beard with a cat – more like a demon with a throat infection and a pet yeti. With both McCathie and bassist John Hughes amicably departing the band after this recording, you can only but speculate as to how much face the newly shifted GURT line-up will rip when it eventually resurfaces.
I can see the perplexed expression in your eyes already – surely this is meant to be a split SEVEN-INCH? On vinyl? A weighty black disc of VINYL!! What’s this 9-to-5 townie doing with it on his iPod on the tube?! Well, thanks to the generosity of both bands, you can also have this entire release on a pay-what-you-want deal via bandcamp, and I’d highly recommend that you do. The passengers on the train, who by this point resemble a bunch of teeth-grinding insomniacs I’m sure wouldn’t agree, but hey, they’ve just had a free education from the School of Hard Rock and so will my neighbours later when I get home to set the turntable whirring once again on this ugly bastard of a split.
Scribed by: Pete Green