Bone Awl/The Rita - Split (Klaxon CS)
Not sure what the deal is with grim black metal acts spawning from the sunny sands of California, but add Bone Awl to the list alongside Xasthur, Leviathan et al. The band (consisting of two members, named He Who Gnashes Teeth and He Who Crushes Teeth - I think I'm in love) have been garnering some kind of underground buzz lately, due large in part to being championed by both Wrest of Leviathan and Aquarius Records, as well as being invited to play the Hospital Productions basement night at this year's No Fun Fest. On this release they've teamed up with Canadian noise artist the Rita, who also records as BT. HN., who I don't know a whole lot about I hear good things.
When you pop the tape in, there's a harsh, buzzed out, electric acid rain storming down from your speakers and you think to yourself "this must be the Rita's side". But after a few minutes of the furiously bubbling audio lava, there's a few cymbal crashes and Bone Awl step in to wreak all different kinds of havoc! Then after their brief (2 minutes) jamming, the noise creeps back in. And it dawns on you (or me) that the groups are alternating tracks throughout the tape. Brilliant! Especially since the Rita's spattering, psychofrenetic inferno make for perfect intros/outros/interludes to Bone Awl's subterranean distorted black metal thrashings. The Rita's tracks are all very similar (I imagine it was one long track spliced with Bone Awl tunes), like squelching instruments and amplifiers set on fire. Bone Awl's black metal is harder to pin down. Imagine if the early Darkthrone demos were influenced by BM rather than death metal and you're in the right ballpark. They have a great song on the second side that's like a slowed down romper-stomper stoned jam like an unholy mix of Electric Wizard and Furze or Bunkur and Abruptum. And it's perfectly puntuated by the howling blizzards of the Rita's sonic terrorism.
It's hard to put into words what makes this split so great. The unusual and inspired choice of formatting is certainly a factor. I'm also relieved to see black metal bands like Bone Awl not taking the easy way out and riding the current USBM wave on the strength of the aforementioned Xasthur and Leviathan. Bone Awl's sound is wholly unique, and about billion times scuzzier than anything you could ever expect from their contemporaries, so the abrasiveness gels perfectly with what the Rita has contributed. First there was the Prurient/Akitsa split, and now this monster...here's to more and more noise/black metal match-ups in the near future!