Ahhhh, split single EPs, something of an anachronism these days maybe, but after separating from my first wife and selling our house, flush with cash I dreamed of setting up a small label whose speciality would be releasing split 7” singles combining two artists who may have sounded differently, but complemented each other ideologically.
This was before the current vinyl boom rendered my innocent childhood love of records an expensive luxury item and around the time that I met the future mother of my children so, in the song of my beloved football club, those dreams would ‘fade and die’.
It however has always left me nostalgic for the concept and when the chance arrives, I tend to grab on to the idea of an artist I know pairing with someone not so familiar putting out a short teaser of styles.
Couple this with my love of all things Pelagic Records, when offered the chance to review the latest release from devastating Danish post-metal, post-apocalyptic heavyweights LLNN split with Sugar Horse, a Bristol, UK, based sludgy/melodic math ‘decidedly average band’ (a self-descriptor), released to coincide with their upcoming UK/European jaunt together, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to throw too many words for two tracks at the long suffering boss Shaman Lee.
First up is LLNN and here the Danes get to do a little fan service by taking the opening track from their recent concerts which was written by their sibling creation, the terrifying electronic nightmare that is John Cxnnor, an acid drenched, Terminator theme industrial band who feature both brothers, Rasmus and Ketil Sejersen.
The track debuted live at Roadburn 2023 featuring LLNN‘s Victor Kaas on vocals and as a result of that reception, they have adapted it into the LLNN universe. The result is the seering, just shy of five minutes The Horror, a track born from the idea of pushing boundaries, haunting soundscapes and sci-fi soundtracks from films like Event Horizon, Hereditary and Dune.
LLNN grind into life with their trademark machine-like clanking and Terminator film score feel…
Starting with slow ominous samples that create a backward sucking sound, LLNN grind into life with their trademark machine-like clanking and Terminator film score feel. As the pulses build to set the atmosphere, it begins to live up to its name. Over the crawling industrial beats, incidental sounds come and go before Kaas’ tortured, barking rasp spits lyrics that sound like the expulsions of a demon freshly birthed from hell.
This rhythmic, sinister chanting gathers momentum bringing tension before an abrupt stop and acapella howls make you think the nightmare is almost over before they return to the pounding that swells, enhanced with throat singing by Martin Skou from the Warrior Choir of Heilung. Ending without ceremony (another dead stop), it leaves you feeling cold and isolated in the harsh silence that follows.
Not quite as punchy as the expansive violence of their previous Unmaker album, The Horror exists in a vacuum as a curiosity, it would make a great album opener for LLNN as it will pique the fan’s interest and satisfy those wishing to hear this take from another aspect of their many headed hydra.
In the old school world of a split, this is where we would pause to flip the disc, but the digital version means that LLNN actually serve to set up co-conspirators Sugar Horse.
By contrast, the British four-piece have a much looser sound than their label mates and have thrown around several unpredictable and eclectic releases since their formation in 2015, earning praise from the likes of The Quietus and Echoes & Dust for their juxtaposing and disparate post-metal.
hardcore violence churns and writhes with intensity…
Here they bring four and a half minutes of noise that seeks to match the power and sonic dissonance of LLNN via a twisted track called Sleep Paralysis Demon. Muted sounds and lone, pleading vocals open the four and a half minutes with echoing strains before a scream switches into pure downtuned sludge filth that is similar to the path carved by Will Haven.
This hardcore violence churns and writhes with intensity, oscillating back and forth between sparse verses with clean singing before the strangled screams signal the bass heavy rumble and off-kilter guitar stabs make it lurch and recoil as they slowly turn the screw on the atmospherics. Dirge like and raw, it fades out on more of Ash Tubb‘s vein-popping vocal delivery.
This split serves its purpose as a sampler, and after hearing it I went back and listened to the LLNN back catalogue again and then spent doing a deep dive into Sugar Horse to find out how much of the surface this actually scratches. The answer is barely.
So, from this I now want more from a band I know, I will be spending more time getting to know the one I don’t and keeping a watchful eye out for any upcoming releases. Job done, good work as ever Pelagic.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden