For those who may be unfamiliar with the two bands who participated in the split release you’re about to hear — Bent Sea and To Dust — their collective rosters include current and former members of such groups as Napalm Death, Aborted, Soilwork, Abigail Williams, Black Dahlia Murder, Phobia, and Megadeth. And if that doesn’t seize your attention, then consider this: The two EPs that are combined in this album-length split under the title Ascend / Descend will explode your head — and who doesn’t crave a massive head explosion?
If you’re somehow still wavering, consider the assessment of Cattle Decapitation’s Travis Ryan:
“Bent Sea come out firing on all cylinders with their kick ass blend of modern grind and discordant musings with hints of later-era Gorguts, leaving To Dust to finish you off with a scathing hardcore attack of HM-2 influenced grind!”
Ascend / Descend will be released by Give Praise Records on July 22, and one solitary day before its release we’re bringing you a full stream of this dynamic grindcore detonation. Let’s take these two groups and their contributions to the split one at a time.
BENT SEA: ASCEND
Bent Sea is a triumvirate consisting of drummer/guitarist Dirk Verbeuren (Megadeth, Aborted, Scarve, Soilwork, Sublime Cadaveric Decomposition), vocalist Sven De Caluwe (Aborted, Oracles), and bassist Shane Embury (Napalm Death). Since the band’s creation in 2011 they’ve released a debut EP (2011’s Noistalgia) and two splits during 2013, one with Torture Division (reviewed here) and another with Usurpress.
For their part of the split, an EP-length work entitled Ascend, the band have laid down five tracks.
The music is jolting, scorching, and violent. It manages the difficult feat of seeming to teeter on the brink of chaos while being machine-like in its precision. Rhythmically dynamic and often instrumentally complex, the songs range from searing eruptions of blast-furnace heat to grim, brutal bouts of lumbering, head-clubbing power. No two songs are quite alike, and that’s part of the thrill that comes from a full spin through Ascend.
Given the pedigrees of the band’s membership, there’s more than a little death metal in this gut-punching grind, nor is it surprising that the songs are vehicles for politically charged lyrics. And while Verbeuren and Embury are putting on a demonstration of their instrumental wizardry, Sven De Caluwe veers across a wide range of his distinctive vocal viciousness. Ascend will light you up like a Roman candle.
TO DUST: DESCEND
Dedicating themselves to creating “the harshest and most vicious sonic experience possible”, Cleveland’s To Dust assembles the talents of guitarist/bassist Thomas Haywood Jr (Abigail Williams, Aborted, Vintage Warlords, System Divide), vocalist Joe Reed (Severed Remains), and drummer Zach Gibson (Black Dahlia Murder, Abigail Williams, Phobia). Their EP-length collection of songs on the split bears the title Descend.
“Explosive” is again the word that first comes to mind as soon as “Amaryllis” launches To Dust’s EP, and that’s the word that sticks in the head all the way to the end. With Joe Reed delivering the highly varied vocals in a full-bore, red-eyed fury, Haywood and Gibson launch one savage, technically eye-popping assault after another, interweaving elements of hardcore, punk, and death metal into a framework of destructive grind.
But while the riffs are absolutely scathing and the overall mood is one of unrestrained ferocity, these turbocharged songs include massive grooves heavy and hard enough to crack pavement and tempo shifts that will keep you pleasantly off-balance. Like Ascend, To Dust’s part of this split is a huge adrenaline trigger and an absolute blast to hear straight through.
And now, give this split a listen. To order it on limited edition vinyl (which comes with an immediate mp3 download of the tracks), go here: