Agoraphobic Nosebleed / Despise You: And On And On

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Agoraphobic Nosebleed / Despise You: And On And On
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Agoraphobic Nosebleed / Despise You: And On And On
Grindcore
Relapse Records
April 26th, 2011
Release length: 32:43
A.N. Website
Despise You Myspace
Relapse Records has always been a safe haven when it comes to Grindcore bands, and usually churns out some quality releases including full-lengths and split releases. Once again, we’re looking at the latter of those two types. This time around, we find former Relapse roster members Agoraphobic Nosebleed churning out yet another set of songs along side the established and just recently returning to the Grindcore world act Despise You to issue the split release And On and On. Comprised of twenty five songs with a run time of about thirty two minutes, this effort gears to slam you hard with Punk and Hardcore attitude fueled Grindcore, but do both acts live up to the expectations?

First of all, the audio quality for both bands is rather similar. The only difference is that the music on Agoraphobic Nosebleed‘s side is a little heavier compared to the cleaner sound of Despise You. Other thent hat, the audio to both sound modern and clear without sacrificing a crisper sound for a rawer quality and attitude. The bass kicks both have a great click to them with cymbols and snares that stand out nicely, and guitars that have enough of a Hardcore fueled distortion to make them feel aggressive and uncompromising at times, especially on with the heavier material on Agoraphobic Nosebleed‘s material. The vocals vary slightly from one another, though both approach things with a shouting method, though Despise You also have some background shouts that either sound like a soft spoken woman trying to be loud, or a little child chiming in once in a while in a one person gang chant style. And that ends up being the only real drawback to their performance only because of how distracting it is with the way it clashes against the more dominant male shouting vocals.

Of the two, Despise You feeds into the more generic Grindcore approach to their music, having songs that are traditionally really short and rarely breaking the one minute gap. The main problem is that when the band goes this route, it usually helps to back it up with really aggressive material that just screams rage and rebellion, and much of this group’s material lacks that. “Bereft” starts the release well enough and makes for a good opening, but it isn’t until the both catchy and abrasive Punk fueled “Roll Call” that the anger of the group comes through in their music, and the longer track length does end up working for the band, though the last ten seconds or so end up sounding a little drawn out and could have been ended earlier. “Three Day Hold” is another song that stands out largely thanks to it’s random outbursts of clearly pissed off fury mixed with slow material that gives you a moment to breathe and anticipate the next verbal assault. That toning down concept does appear in other songs, such as the following “Yes Officer/No Officer” which again feeds more into that ticked off attitude. “Bankrupts Social Code” is another strong and anger fueled Grindcore song that shows how to take advantage of the short track length and get it’s point across without eating up more time then necessary, unlike “Seven Funerals” that does a fantastic job of essentially doing the same thing but coming in just under a minute and still being a great grind.

But, there’s the background shouting female or child’s voice to contend with. “Fear’s Song,” the second longest track from Despise You, incorporates a strong Punk/Hardcore sound that works out well to get it’s lyrical point across while making you want to dance along in rebellion to the more upbeat yet slightly aggressive music that adorns the full minute forty seven seconds. This track does feature more of the weaker vocals then some of the others, and it does feel a bit out of place, holding this song back a bit when it really has the potential to stand out on the release. This also becomes the situation with the more Hardcore driven “Painted Grey,” and the more intense Grindcore song “Destinial” also finds these vocals being used a little more often, and again they really make the track come off a little worse for wear due to the clashing sound. But, one of the biggest issues to be had about this is how low they are in the mix. Not only does the difference betyween the two voices cause issues, but also the fact that you still can’t understand what is being said half the time, just leading to general frustration and aggrivation on the listener’s part. But, at no fault to those background shouts, the instrumental track “Cedar Ave. (Was the Best Place to Watch People Ascend to Heaven)” just ends up being a rather bland offering. As a closing track to Despise You‘s set, it’s understandable, but overall it just feels like a long, drawn out introduction that doesn’t really go anywhere other then attempt to usher in a darker atmosphere that could bridge this band into Agoraphobic Nosebleed‘s set, and if you didn’t pay attention then you honestly would believe it did switch bands.

With eighteen of the tracks down, all that’s left are the seven songs that Agoraphobic Nosebleed contributed to this split release. Much like Despise You, some of these songs don’t even clock in at one minute, but there’s a good deal of full-length tracks here that go over the two minute mark, even into the four minute area. When it comes to slower songs, this is a group can either do it well, or do it poorly. “Half Dead” kicks off the band’s set nicely with a slower, trippy sound with a heavy distortion on the vocals that ushers in that already baked feeling one would expect from a Stoner Rock or Metal group moreso then this band. The slower Doom Metal approach helps to take their sound into a bit of a crushing, almost Sludge Metal territory that, while rocky at the very start, sweeps over the listener to heighten the senses and prepare him or her for the onslaught that is about to come, and that’s exactly what they throw at the listener right away. “As Bad As It Is…” hits the listener hard with a mixture of Grindcore and Hardcore Punk for over two minutes, starting off with a general enraged state of typical Grindcore but evolving after an impressive guitar solo into a two stepping beast that mixes the other two styles together very well. But all of that is thrown out the window as Agoraphobic Nosebleed tackles three songs of pure unrelenting Grindcore fury at the listener, concluding that little spurt of shorter songs with “Ungrateful,” the better of the three with a far more chaotic and anger-fueled tantrum in both the music and vocals. This approach is carried over well into “Possession,” which takes advantage of the longer time by being a far more intense assault full of blasting drums and furiously fast paced guitar riffs.

Overall, fans of Grindcore will definitely find some positive things on the And On And On split. Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Despise You do a good job of pulling out all the stops and create a hard hitting compilation of madness between the two acts, but not all the songs here are gems sadly. Thankfully there’s more right with this release then there is wrong. If you happen to enjoy one band or the other, or just the style in general, then this is something definitely worth looking into.

Despise You:
01. Bereft – 0:39
02. Repeat Until You Fail – 0:15
03. Roll Call – 1:11
04. 3/26/2000 – 0:23
05. Three Day Hold – 0:35
06. Yes Officer/No Officer – 0:28
07. Fear’s Song – 1:48
08. Two or Ten Faces? – 0:28
09. Shit Goes In, Shit Comes Out – 0:36
10. You Can’t Fix Me, Don’t Trip – 0:54
11. Painted Grey – 1:25
12. All the Regimes You Hold Most Dear – 0:34
13. Destinial – 0:46
14. Bankrupt Social Code – 0:29
15. Seven Funerals – 0:57
16. They All Died is What Happened – 1:32
17. …And Expirations – 0:28
18. Cedar Ave. (Was the Blast Place to Watch People Ascend to Heaven) – 3:29

Agoraphobic Nosebleed:
19. Half Dead – 4:34
20. As Bad As It Is… – 2:13
21. Miscommunication – 0:25
22. Los Infernos – 0:27
23. Ungrateful – 0:50
24. Possession – 2:40
25. Burlap Sack – 4:41

Overall Score: 8/10



Digital review copy of this release provided by Relapse Records.