Horornisdiphonevalle (Japan)/SlothPhantomMoth (Sweden) - Split CD (2021)

    Throughout the process of typing up this review, my girlfriend often lies beside me, perpetually cold and curled up under our ironical yet cozy Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe fleece couch blanket while binging through season after season of the 2007 hit sitcom, The Big Bang Theory as part of her current nightly ritual. Her latest observation seems to be that I exhibit several similar qualities to the character of Sheldon Coopera stubborn, socially inept, obsessive-compulsive, chronically phobic, intellectual who finds security in routine and consistency. Before voicing my annoyed objections I quickly had to acquiesce and accept my own neuroses: rigid regularity, hyper-specificity and a strong resistance to any sort of change. My taste in music is no exception. I like my grindcore consistently systematic. Well, as much as a genre like grindcore can be. Speed being king and blast beats being the end-all, be-all. And I don't think I'm alone in recognizing and adoring the singularity of the genre. Yet, these days it takes more than brute force and blurred tempos to stand out among so many great bands and great releases. Sometimes it comes down to what kind of "glitter" is sprinkled over something that makes it glamour.
    2021's Tystnadsallergi is a split release between Japan's Horornisdiphonevalley and Sweden's SlothPhantomMoth that was released jointly through Esagoya Records, Wooaaargh Records and The Hills Are Dead Records. (And let me assure you that nothing about that title roles off the tongue easily for a Texas music reviewer. Points to both bands on name originality.) Both Horornisdiphonevalley and SlothPhantomMoth were previously unknown to me before this review. They are the kind of bands that you won't necessarily find outside of their social media pages or their record label's websites. Always a good sign when searching for any new, worthwhile bands these days. 

    Horornisdiphonevalleyfrom what all I can findappears to be a one man noise-grind project from Japan. Right away from the first listen you can tell there's a lot going on and a lot of different influences at play. Some of which can seemingly come out of nowhere. Starting your side of a split with Cab Calloway's 1931 hit, "Minnie the Moocher" before interjecting mid-melody with heavy crashes and spastic blasting is odd, confrontationally odd, as well as comically disturbing. Horornisdiphonevalley are obviously operating from left field with a thick, dark combination of ambient noise, grindcore, hardcore, metal, sludge and the occasional sample-laced-synth-jazz-elevator-music track.
    Horornisdiphonevalley are much in the vein of Full Of Hell or House alums Bled To Submission. That mix of viscous crude: grinding metallic noise impregnated with whipping thrash riffs and flanked with hardcore breakdowns that are as catchy as they are crushing. This emphasized by the highly adept production value that does an exceptional job of showcasing each instrument with a heavy and meaty intelligibility while also layering them in a nice grime. The versatility of the pulsing guitar work is pounding and fluid, the bass is chunky and the drumming is kinetically manic.  Track "虹の轍" presents a melodic aspect in the song writing that is reminiscent of the work of Takafumi Matsubara's and his fusion of high melody in grindcore. 
    Horornisdiphonevalley's use of noise with grindcore is nothing new, but how it's wielded is not how you would typically assume. The band's implementation of watery phaser effects and a sound that is like that of a digital finger running down a plastic comb are used in a way that ripples and bleeds through vocals and sludgier bits to perpetuate tension and atmosphere. Likewise, some overdubbed theremin-esque leads that are not too dissimilar to what is being utilized in Austin's BLK OPS, flutter around like a quivering "hair in the gate" on some vintage celluloid. The wiry chords tangle themselves in with guitar solos if not outright mimicking them. The noise elements are omnipresent, yet not so overbearing that they overshadow the heaviness of the music. Instead, they provide just enough experimentation without diluting that thick sound that is central to the band's core. In some cases, such as "Dive Into Vomit," songs are built around the ambient noise and audio samples, relying more on the synth elements more than the actual analog music and intermitted blasting. The song "Nightbird" seems to be the audio of what sounds like French dialogue with tranquil music over a looped drum track. It could easily be a lost song from the Mademoiselle Smash section at the end of Affliction's De La Révolte A La Révolution CD-R. (A deep cut from the Anarcho punk annals, but very accurate for those in the know.)
    Unfairly and almost always Swedish born grindcore bands will have to come up in the shadow of fellow countrymen turned possibly overhyped grind legends, Nasum. Swedish grindcore trio, SlothPhantomMoth happen to be such a band. An impossible comparison not to make given the music similarities and of course, geography. And I know I'm constantly citing and referencing Scandinavian grindcore, but that's only because it's such an immediately recognizable and distinct sound of grindcore, not to mention it's also some of the best grindcore in the world, frankly. Fortunately and well deservedly, SlothPhantomMoth also happen to fall into this category.   
    SlothPhantomMoth, like their Norse brethren, dole out some of that straight to the throat style of grindcore: constant, abrupt and breathless. Just like another commonly cited Return to the House Grindcore bandSwitzerland's Mumakilthey are part of that grindcore subset that are enthralled with blast beat battery and snare worship. The sort of bands that incessantly blast with little desire to entertain much of anything else. SlothPhantomMoth carry on the tradition on their side of Tystnadsallergi. Their vocals are high to mid-range strangled screams that are barked in that Rotten Sound/Nasum cadence and every so often fall into a less extreme hardcore yelling. The drummingthat aforementioned, unabated blast beating which only really brakes to pound out whatever mid-tempo or fast as fuck D-beat chomping the song structure requires, to then only pick it back up again soon after as if it were an inevitable compulsion. Those metronome-like hammerings shift in accordance with the guitar's heavy plunges and speeding, needling, bumblebee buzz saw riffs. The bell-shaped production with it's high tremolo riffing and low bottom end gives credence to each of the instruments. One of which surprisingly being the bass guitar which is agreeably audible with its warm booming in the background.  
    Tracks "Perished Life" and "Rena Händer, Slät Hud" give insight into some of the band's broader influences. Both tracks, among others, peek into the metal side of SlothPhantomMoth. "Perished Life" has that pseudo "For Whom the Bell Tolls" intro, calling to mind an 80's thrash influence. While the intro to "Rena Händer, Slät Hud" sounds more like modern metal or hardcore as it bounces forward beforelike both tracksdevolves in a swirl of guitar, cymbals and snare. Yet unlike NasumSlothPhantomMoth do not indulge in the predilections of metal bloated dawdlings or waste time with solos or melody. Opting instead to keep songs lean with bridges and breakdowns kept to a minimum. Squeezing in the catchiest and most divergent riffs where they can. 

    Tystnadsallergi is ultimately a successful split in the fact that it brings together two different subgenres of grindcore that effectively compliment each other well despite being on opposite sides of the grindcore spectrum; as well as both bands being markedly impressive in their own right. While both bands can be compared to more popular predecessors, Horornisdiphonevalley and SlothPhantomMoth do more than prove themselves here. Horornisdiphonevalley are wonderfully dirty, distorted and at times disjointed. The saturated sonic blasting is dark and thick with adequate amounts of avant-garde to keep things interesting. From the opening track through the band's final track, a take on a The Kill cover. (No easy feat.) In turn, SlothPhantomMoth brandishes an understatedly epic version of razor-sharp brutality that is intrinsically catchy and perfectly pummeling. As far as a long play split, this is a highly recommended international co-op of heavy acclaim. 

FFO: Full Of Hell, Feastem, All Pigs Must Die, Afgrund, Axis of Despair

Listen and/or buy the album:

[Originally posted on April 25, 2022, Return to the House of Grindcore]

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