July 23, 2013
Rather bizarre homegrown industrial noise-churn of an anomalous sound and feel, Sun Splitter’s scary pummel is interesting, intense and worth attention, as opposed to a band satisfied with their unique or original gimmick, therefore failing to add any of that crucial stuff that justifies any act of giving-a-shit on the part of the outside world. This Chi-town gem released III a year ago, making this review late enough to get a “fuck off!” rather than inclusion on the band’s blog, where an array on and off-the-mark (and places in between) reviews are already on display. Preceding this unclassifiable treasure was the impossibly-rare/obscure II (pressed on vinyl in an edition of 25, then “reissued” on cassette in an edition of 100 that were only available from the band at shows – that’ll show ‘em), and before that a 7” split with Bridesmaid. There could have been a full-length debut titled I, but it was probably done in an edition of 15 and exclusively-distributed to the interior of a vacant/condemned warehouse located somewhere outside of Wichita. Ahem.
I’m incredibly picky about drum machines and usually get all Carducci about their inclusion, save predictable exceptions in Jesu/Godflesh, about half of the Big Black discography, Nailbomb, and … well, you get it. Sun Splitter’s replacement for human-manned kit sounds as if it might be an old box of minimal flexibility, and would never be mistaken for its organic alternative, but the goal here is clearly to use the understated rapid-BPMs for texture instead of propulsive dynamics. The uncomplicated bomp-bomp races along underneath what Sun Splitter has awarded a far more prominent position in the assault: Guitars, guitars and behind even more guitars is an ominous vocal wail that transcends anger, not unlike the fatalistic “I’m-all-outta-hate” threatened-seagull shriek of Unsane’s Chris Spencer or a low-in-the-mix interpretation of Mascis’ terrifying scream on Bug’s “Don’t”, though it’s been almost 20 years since I’ve heard the latter – while peaking on some beyond-my-personal-threshold acid near the end of my senior year in high school, I slapped on some sizable studio-grade cans, plugged them into the integrated amp that powered my better-than-average used Pioneer component-system, programmed said Dinosaur Jr’s track on infinite repeat, and blasted that shit into my fragile brain for over two hours. The song title says it all.
As stated earlier in this review, my pickiness can usually be counted on to negate an entire album with this kind of drum machine misuse, but Sun Splitter have enough intensity, newness and earnest creepiness to overshadow, then justify, what would otherwise be a deal-breaking flaw. Not to accidentally come off like a lazy contrarian, but Sun Splitter (or more specifically, III) is less metal or metal-related, fundamentally/stylistically, than one might think, if approaching the band sound-unheard and going on just the collective words of other writers and band-boosters. This isn’t a bad thing. The band is unbelievably heavy and miraculously free of any derivative elements to the point that even subtle influences are few and far between, maybe positioning the band as a plaything for only the deepest and most doomed of heads with a vast frames of reference. Maybe not. Those people scare the shit out of me. I can’t overstate how badly this record needs to be heard by so many more folks operating under the banner of metal or heavy-music…fans, voices of influence, contemporaries, and all of the rest … do yourself a favor. White vinyl.