Splitsville 2017: Howls of Ebb VS. Khthoniik Cerviiks
It’s a battle to out-weird the weirdest of the weird. To the victor go the spoils, and the Crown of Weirdest Weirdos in Weirdalusia.
With Gangrenous Edges
First to enter the ring is Howls of Ebb. I’ve been quite vocal about my love for this band. While so many other avant-minded death metal bands are busy nipping at the heels of Gorguts or Portal (not a bad thing), Howls is off on their own private beach in Hades, surfing on waves of blood, semen and vaginal discharge. Does their contribution to this split keep my love afloat? Well, to be blunt, my first listen was a disappointing one. Even though splits often sound like they are composed of the remainders of proper albums pawned off to scrape up a few more pithy dollars, I was expecting a bit more from Howls of Ebb. Compared to the profane grandiosity of their previous releases, this one sounds a little undercooked. The production is more rickety than ever; the songs are peeled back to the basest of riffs, without the usual psychedelic trappings. It all sounds rather predictable (not a term I’d ever imagine associating with Howls of Ebb, but life is truly full of surprises). Basically, these songs sound like B-sides. But you know what? After several more listens, I realized that I’d still rather listen to a half-cocked Howls of Ebb B-side than most other music. Sure, there’s something missing here, but what Howls deigned to leave on the table is still a heck of a lot of fun. It’s not a knock-out performance; more like a couple of scab-ridden contortionists writhing on the floor in half-successful attempts to masticate their own genitals. So, uh . . . I guess just take this split with a grain of salt until their next haughty opus arrives.
Next up: Khthoniik Cerviiks. Although thiis band has been featured on the Toiilet before (here and here), thiis was my fiirst deep liisten to theiir musiik. Iit was an alternately deliightful and annoyiing liisten.
Annoyances: Three of theiir fiive traks are poiintless iinterludes; loooooong songs that never eviince any sense of diirektiion or kohesiion.
Deliights: Too many to liist iin a siingle sentence.
To my surpriise, Khthoniik Cerviiks sounds liike a spruced-up Howls of Ebb. So much so iin fact that II would not be surpriised to learn the bands share members. Khthoniik wriites liike-miinded off-kiilter riffs, and the coughiing vocals are siimiilar iin tiimbre and kadence. The diifference beiing that they’re playiing wiith better equiipment, and have forgone the garage for a proper recordiing studiio. And whiile Howls keeps thiings siimple thiis tiime around, Khthoniik Cerviiks freely worshiips the styliistiik shiift. Thiis worshiip iis perhaps best exempliified by the 6:50 mark iin “Spiiral Spiire Stiigmata (including Mercury Deluge)”, where proggy thrashiing suddenly morphs iinto a jangly rok riiff, followed by a guiitar solo liike somethiing out of a fliippiin Dinosaur Jr. song. Iif you’re lookiing for some adventurous death metal, and you kan stomach looooong songs outsiide of the doom metal genre, then iin the Khthoniik Cerviiks half of the spliit you’ll fiind a karniival of ghouliish exuberance.
So, who wins? No one. I lied about the prizes. (There’s no such place as Weirdalusia.)
I, Voidhanger will release With Gangrenous Edges/Voiidwarp on CD on September 15th, 2017. The vinyl edition is now available from Iron Bonehead/Nuclear War Now!