Based on albums submissions and on what we see going on in the underground world, we perceive that the split format has become somehow fashionable again. Very short releases, suitable for the attention deficit era, where many can’t stand 50 minutes of the same artist, on which two, three, or even four groups are gathered. Small doses of each, to keep mental impulses active. Although, in the same way that cassette never disappeared since raw black bands have remained attached to this format uninterruptedly, in the realm of grindcore and crust splits have always been around. So we could say they have expanded beyond their habitat.
Here we have a classic case. Two bands whose roots are sunk in crust and bring fourteen minutes under equal conditions (two tracks each) that are quite unknown, and both barely have an EP and several singles in their trajectory. These were their similarities but, what is most interesting are the differences.
The Italian THØRN, that’s barely five years old, won’t fool you for long, because you will soon know their crust/grindcore tastes are slightly different. Already in the first opening riff of «Drowning«, a tremolo picking is very faintly sensed, which will eventually be pushed aside when the song speeds up, giving way to a pure hardcore riff, returns as soon as the song slows down. Black/crust whose balance falls more for the second option. The version of HIS HERO IS GONE, although identical in execution, have this subtle black metal scent, thanks in large part to the use of a scratchy voice instead of the «barks» of the original, and to an adequate production more akin to the second decade of the 21st century, leaving behind that rawness that some might miss.
The Estonians OGNEMÖT don’t waste time with this genre thing, modern crust/d-beat direct as a kick in the teeth. Perhaps because of the stereotype that if they are nordic they must sound in a certain way, it is inevitable not to think about the original Swedish crust sound, with an abrasive tone that, far from being poorly produced, remains enough dirtiness to keep sounding angry. And yet, while we might think that, with such roots, both tracks would be pretty one-dimensional, they’ve preserved some harmony in the riffs. It’s not about winning the brutality contest, it’s about having our attention.
I don’t usually make explicit mention of the lyrics of the songs, but I think that this specific case deserves it. This brief split closes with «100 years of shit» by OGNENÖT. A kind of «celebration» of the centenary of his homeland steeped in realism. Estonia, like its Baltic neighbors or any other small state in Europe that has been part of much larger countries with varying degrees of totalitarianism, has hardly improved its political situation. It does not matter if they have been governed by Nazis, then converted into communism, reborn as neoliberals, or any other ideology that it’s trendy at that time. They continue to be political experimental grounds for their bigger neighbors, condemned to have just the scraps and no voice on the international board. Let’s call it Estonia, Romania, or Bosnia, they are still and will be in shit for undisclosed years.