Sunday, March 17, 2013

Crucial Blast on Sun Splitter LP


SUN SPLITTER   III   LP   (Bloodlust!)

I've definitely been picking up on a certain industrial influence that has been creeping into a lot of the underground metal/avant rock that's been coming out of Chicago lately; dunno if it's a direct by-product of that city's long history with mechanized sound with labels like Wax Trax and Invisible, but there's definitely traces of machine-music coming through in some of the Windy City's more doom-laden outfits like Bloodiest, Anatomy Of Habit, Rabid Rabbit, and Minsk. I love hearing metallic music incorporate industrial influences, and the latest Chicago band mixing the mecha with their metal is Sun Splitter, who I first heard on their excellent II cassette on Land Of Decay a while back. Sun Splitter has put a unique, punishing stamp on this sound, using drum machines to create the pummeling slow-motion assembly-line rhythms that drive their crushing guitar/bass drones and sludgy riffage, blending in electric organs and piano into their sound for added atmosphere.

III is the latest offering from Sun Splitter, a vinyl-only album out from Bloodlust!. As soon as opener "Eye Of Jupiter" kicks in, the band is battering you with you their concussive industro-sludge, a hypnotic assault of heavy mechanical drumming and chant-like vocals that snake through clouds of shimmering synth noise around the crushing low-end riffage, building into something akin to a psychedelic version of early Godflesh or Swans, but with that monstrous chugging industrial grind becoming fused to the vast droning narco-crush of Sleep and Om; a weird mixture on paper, but man, I was hooked from the first track. From there the album heads deeper into bludgeoning, down-tuned riffs weighted with moments of striking Sabbathian doom n' gloom, majestic leads soaring over bizarrely-arranged programmed blast beats, and a vocal delivery that goes from harsh frantic screams to weird chant-like utterances. Totally sounds like something that could have come off of the HeadDirt or Pathological Records labels, but with a very modern level of metallic heaviosity. The other tracks follow similar suit in their drive to pummel the listener with brutal repetition, the eleven minute "Parasitic Machine" driving home a pounding pneumatic rhythm while spacey, almost blackened guitar melodies and tremolo riffing ascend skyward as it builds to a crescendo that never comes. Instead, it drops off into an almost Lustmordain abyss of cavernous drones and distant ethereal chanting smeared with streaks of psych guitar, prayer-bowl resonance, and monstrous subterranean rumblings.

Sun Splitter drop a number of these long, mesmeric dronescapes among their heavier songs, and also make a couple of surprising detours from the chugging, industrialized hypno-crush. Like on the closer "Two Cold Oceans", where they lock in to an infectious hypno-rock jam that sounds surprisingly like Finnish avant-rockers Circle at first, a pounding shuffling drum beat driving the hypnotic music into endless circular grooves, a simple chugging riff repeating over and over, the guitars laying down a lysergic meandering melody; after awhile, it suddenly kicks in with much harsher, more evil intensity, the vocals changing from a stoned yowl to harsh blackened shrieks, the guitars surging in heaviness, continuing that looping heavy psych-hook as more and more electronic layers of noise and effects descend upon the music, until everything is swallowed up in a monstrous roar of crushing industrial drone and starry electronic nebulae and whirring Hawkwindian synth effects.