Integrity & Rot In Hell - Black Heksen Rise split 2x7'' ep
2012, Holy Terror Records
There seems to be a growing number of Brittish bands embracing the sound and aesthetic of the old school Clevo-style of hardcore. Among them, and possibly one of the better acts today, are Rot In Hell, a band whose earlier releases has garnered them some well-earned recognition by both fans and press, and whose two full length albums remain two of my favourite records of the past decade. Here they've paired up with the progenitors of the Holy Terror Hardcore sound themselves, the mighty Integrity, and released a massive ep, that is, quite simply, astoundingly good. This ep contains six tracks, two by Rot In Hell and four by Dwid and co. (whose two final tracks are on a separate 7''). The Integrity songs are, at least partially, what you'd expect from these guys but much more succinctly written and honed. Waiting For The Sun To Burn Out My Eyes is a raging hardcore number with lots of awesome bass runs rippling underneath a melodic d-beat current. The song has hooks aplenty and is riddled with short solo bursts and great vocals. It bleeds into the slightly slower Black Heksen Rise, which is basically a continuation of the previous song, only more varied in tempos and with even more melodic soloing and some really heavy dirty riffing. These two tracks are, hands down, some of the best material I've heard from the band, ever. The metal influences are way up front here and done really well and the vocal patterns are fucking ace. Next up is a longish power electronics/noise track of crackling distortion and whispered vocals over rumbling industrial soundscapes, titled Where Does The Fire Come From. It's not an overly harsh piece; instead it's rather almost ambient in some ways and it's a nice inclusion to break the pace of the ep. The same goes for the following two tracks, that are acoustic and electronic in nature, respectively, both infusing alot of cool influences that aren't always apparent to the casual Integrity fan. Think Bastard Noise without the raging bull-vocals and less sonically violent. There is a certain Dark Folk feel to a few of these songs that really hooked me.
Erebus is the first of the two Rot In Hell songs. It starts off slowly, after a brief burst of feedback, with an awesome epic, melodic, very metal, intro but quickly explodes into one of the best song the band's ever written. Driven by raging tempos and loads of brief solos and snarled vocals, with a great chorus to anchor everything, Erebus is one of those songs that, even though it's pretty fast, has that really memorable, anthemic feel. This is very close to what Integrity does musically and RIH's coming very close to overshadowing their Holy Terror forefathers here.The song has several layers of action all of which are well written and arranged. These guys just keep getting better and better and I keep being impressed every time I hear something new from them. Life Becomes A Desert Around You is the perfect closer to this amazing ep with it's depressive, almost Today Is The Day-ish monotony and melody. It's an acoustic song where sung vocals are drifting faintly from the background, beneath the stripped down guitars. There is an epic kind of feel to this song, almost stoner rock-like in the atmospehere. I keep thinking of deserts and soaring birds of prey whenever I hear it. Beautiful.
(Note: This review is based on the digital version, from iTunes, where the tracks are in a different order than the vinyl version.)
So, to sum up: This is a great ep that is well worth the pricetag. I only wish there were more RIH material here. And if you're a fan of this particular style of metallic hardcore you should definately grab this and you shouldn't sleep on it too long because this double seven incher is most likely going fast. It's already sold out at Holy Terror Records so get it here or get the digital version from iTunes.