Cara Neir and Wildspeaker Share the Apocalypse on Guilt and His Reflection


Splits, man. I’m not usually a fan. In the best of my experience, there’s always a mediocre band casting a shadow on a really good one, and I find myself wishing the really good band had just released an EP instead. Does this new split between Texas crustlords Cara Neir and Wildspeaker suffer the same fate? Hmmm…

Guilt and His Reflection is not a regular old split, but rather a thematic collaboration between the two likeminded bands. Cara Neir lead with chewy progressive punk ensconced in blackened crust; Wildspeaker follow spewing blackened crust ensconced within crusty blackness. The result of this pairing is a full-length concept album about the end of civilization and the impossible choices the protagonist is forced to make in order to survive. The primary moral impasse explored by this split is cannibalism: the need for cannibalism when all other food supplies have vanished versus the despair produced in the psyche of a man who allows himself to be reduced (or is strong enough to resort) to eating the flesh of his fellow human beings.

Cara Neir Wildspeaker
I wasn’t highly familiar with either band when this split came across my desk. In fact, there’s so much shit piled up on my desk right now that I almost passed it up. But as fortune would have it, I found the wherewithal to press play on Cara Neir’s first contribution, “Halo of Grey,” and I had to stop and just listen. You hear that dirt-caked guitar tone? So dry, so grainy, so light on distortion? Maaaaaaaan, I dig that toooooooooone. Then the drums (so well-programmed that at first I didn’t notice they were fake) dropped their martial stature for a tinkly stutter-stop beat, and I could feel the blood being redirected from certain parts of my body to certain other parts. Then came the vocals of Chris Francis: the sound of a psychotic person operating at a serious Thorazine deficit. The song slingshots back and forth between blistering speed, ponderous ambiance and some sweet atmospheric grooves reminiscent of something you might hear on a Porcupine Tree record. At four minutes and nineteen seconds, it contains enough ideas to fill a full-length album. Or at least enough to make me want to listen on, eager to hear how the band would utilize all these base elements later on. Most of Cara Neir’s tracks peter out before the three-minute mark—which is perfect, because these songs are so intense that to drag them out any longer would lead to vertebral injury and total nervous collapse. At their most belligerent, Cara Neir can make you feel like you’ve got ants in your pants, or like you’ve injected liquid cocaine straight into a major artery. It was smart of them to weave calmer, prettier bits into all the chaos, because without these bits the songs would suffocate. Mastermind and multi-instrumentalist Garry Brent’s guitar-work can be at once furious and mathematical, as indebted to noise rock as to punk or black metal. And his ear for percussion programming is so deft that I’m convinced he’s using software to humanize the digital beats with intentional flaws. When you throw all this technical mastery together with that quintessential punk looseness, the total effect is one of ramshackle charm.

After burning quickly through Cara Neir’s half of the album, I was hopeful that Wildspeaker would bring something equally refreshing to the table. Sadly, they did not. Their sound is much bigger, largely due to their heavily distorted twin-guitar attack. And while vocalist Natalie Kahan certainly pulls her own weight, sounding like she sleeps on sheets of sandpaper and chews whole lemons (rind and all) before each performance, the band behind her is just kind of there. Strip back the prevailing crust and you’re left with a bunch of very basic riffs from all over the metal spectrum, few of them highly engaging or adding up to anything more than the sum of their parts. I don’t know, man… to these ears Wildspeaker is just loud and angry and loud and angry. I was prepared to write them off entirely until the surprise left-hook of their final track, “His Reflection,” an uplifting and cathartic tune full of ascending major-key chord progressions and sweet, reverb-soaked melodies—a beguiling post-black gem amidst all the loud anger and angry loudness.

And thus this monument to the fall of civilization ends with a ray of hope. Cara Neir get 3.5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell. Wildspeaker get 1.5. My super hi-tech graphing calculator tells me this gives us an average of:

2.5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell


Guilt and His Reflection comes out September 16th on Broken Limbs. Follow Cara Neir and/or Wildspeaker on faceand/orbook.

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  • Cara Neir have been all over the grid. Grind, crust, screamo, artys fartzy, you name it. Their early grindcore days were rad. They seemed to take off where Discordance Axis ended it. They pushed it a bit too far for my tastes though. Way too experimental and shit but rad nonetheless.

    • Hans Gruber

      Got into them around the time I got into Dephosphorus. The style mix and boundary pushing are comparable… as are the mixed results.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Nice write up Richter, merciless as always.

  • Howard Dean

    I think I’m officially at the “new bands” saturation point. I see articles or forum topics springing up (in what seems like every few minutes) about some new band and I no longer feel any excitement and have almost no desire to check them out. It’s kind of sad in a way, but also liberating since I can focus on listening to known commodities (aka what I like) and don’t have to worry thinking that I’ve missed something.

    Or maybe it’s just a metal/extreme metal/underground music saturation point and I’m realizing that so much of the stuff that’s put out there is just mediocre or worse. But now it seems like I see an unfamiliar (and usually unpronounceable/nonsensical) band name and my eyes just glaze over and I go the opposite direction.

    • Dude. Have you heard that new Torture Rack album yet? I just ordered it this morning. Filthy death metal at it’s finest. Features a lot members from other rad bands as well. Cemetery Lust. Blood Feast, and Dagger Lust to name a few.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      I’ve been busy listening to a lot of classics that i have neglected over the years. I try to keep up with new tunes, but it gets difficult at times.

    • Did you leave this comment from your Jitterbug?

    • Ayreonaut

      I’m at the same exact point….
      And my hairline is starting to recede..
      I need dental work..
      And I’m not even 25 🙁
      Getting old sucks

      • I hear you man. I’m dealing with health issues that I shouldn’t have to deal with at 27 years of age. Sucks, and it’s expensive.

        • Ayreonaut

          It all happens so quick, like your fine for years then all of a sudden age catches up with you.
          I just got quoted for 1500$ of work needed at the dentist…
          Ive been getting bad migraines and feeling light headed and foggy a lot and I’m afraid to go to the doctor to see what that’s about. Luckily I have insurance but it only covers so much

          • Best of luck to you friendo. My insurance just changed and I have a $2,000 deductible I have to pay off still.

          • Ayreonaut

            Wow that really sucks, that’s a hefty bill. I wish the same to you man. Health issues are the worst.

    • I’ll just title all of my reviews R I C H T E R S H I T. That way you can skip right over them.

      • Howard Dean

        Nah man, it ain’t you (or anyone else for that matter). I get just as much of the effect from the NWN forums. It’s just being presented with so many random bands (many of whom sound/look the same) of relatively mediocre quality that I’ve become jaded and almost closed off to new stuff.

  • Celtic Frosty

    That’s disappointing to hear about Wildspeaker. Their full length last year was so good. I will have to do my own investigating.

  • Both of these bands have some traits I can get down with. Wildspeaker seems more suited to my tastes, the vocals are definitely the highlight.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    I have seen the name Cara Neir around a lot, but I don’t recall if I’ve ever checked them out or not, I’m not sure I actually like “The View Through This Fog”, but it’s not bad and has me intrigued to check their side of the split out once it’s streaming in full.

    Wildspeaker I don’t think I’ve heard of and “First Taste of Flesh” sounds pretty meh, not bad, nothing even slightly resembling memorable or good in any other way known to mankind. But checking their side of the split is no additional effort, so I will do so and see if I change my mind. Which I won’t.

    • Strangely, Broken Limbs chose perhaps the least memorable Cara Neir track for preview. *shrugs*

  • Joaquin Stick

    “chewy progressive punk ensconced in blackened crust” sounds like a witch’s chant spell or something.

    That first song is pretty sweet, reminds me of heavier version of a local Indie/ Post-rock band that I particularly enjoy.

  • Stockhausen

    Looking forward to hamming this tonight.

  • Hans Gruber

    I totally lost track of Cara Neir amidst the shitload of splits they seem to have put out, but their albums were very enjoyable. This sounds sehr interessant. Good writing, Richie!