Dear 2014 and Internet, why didn’t you tell me about this? This is all your fault that I didn’t catch this split between two excellent bands from Great Britain. I have remedied that by putting on the ear buds and listened to this a ton so that I could update it for 2016.The tag team duo of Pariso and Svalbard each deliver a helping of an EP’s worth of goodness that amounts to an album’s worth of material.
Apologies in advance for being over two years late to the party on this split between Pariso and Svalbard, but you’ll most assuredly forgive me once you’ve heard this album that has something for just about everyone. The genre mashing on this album takes multiple colors out of the Play-Doh cans, melds them together and throws them back at you with a fresh coat of paint. This release is unique in that it is a collaborative effort between the two bands. Two of the nine songs here feature vocal contributions from all parties on each other’s track. The Bandcamp page for this album puts it this way:
Conceived as a plausible, albeit logistically complex idea – Pariso and Svalbard have not only spurred each other to deliver their best material to date, but also teamed up for 2 fully collaborative tracks – written and refined almost as new bands unto themselves – with each featuring a different combination of members, alongside all three vocalists.
The album begins with one of the aforementioned collaborative tracks featuring music supplied by Pariso who are responsible for the first five songs on this effort. My first impression of Pariso is that they play an unabashedly heavy style of metallic hardcore that is reminiscent of Norma Jean’s past few records. The opener “Floating Anchors” wastes no time in letting you know that it’s open season for grabbing the nearest person in your vicinity, putting on your mean face and shouting at them point blank with a mouthful of bad breath on purpose. Beneath all the hostility is a palette of riffing that owes as much to metallic hardcore as it does to sludge and doom. And when they break out the sludge and doom, it absolutely crushes. Pariso weaves in and out of every lane on the highway like a professional race car driver who will accept nothing less than first place. Every move is precise and calculated, they typically do not employ the tact of building a rapport with the listener, but instead are content to constantly change the landscape and keep you locked in at every turn. The outlier in all of this chaos comes by way of the track “Helios, The Demise” which has an almost industrial feel to it that prides itself on repetition while working in some tremendously effective bluesy soloing coupled with colorful guitar work that veers into near Deftones territory. Before turning things over to Svalbard, Pariso finishes up their portion of this album with “Delirium” which starts off charred and blackened beyond repair. That does not last long as they transition to metallic hardcore glory with chameleon-like slickness. Part of the charm of Pariso is that their influences do not betray them and it allows them to bob and weave from one part to the next with Muhammad Ali like quickness.
The highlight of this release comes from Svalbard, who opens things up with the track “Ripped Apart”. Words cannot begin to describe how effective Svalbard is by combining primarily black metal aesthetics and coupling them with punk/hardcore and traces of post metal. If you listen to “Ripped Apart” and feel nothing, it’s because your nerve endings have been neutralized by some unfortunate accident. This song will hook you on the first listen because of the way it combines all of the elements seamlessly without sounding forced. The combination of the riffing that bears resemblances to Tragedy and From Ashes Rise coupled with the impassioned screams coming from guitarist/vocalist Serena Cherry are fueled with equal parts rage and sorrow. The way this track shape shifts from melodic punk to a powerful post metal breakdown not unlike something you’d hear on a Thursday record is the first in a series of transitions the song makes and keeps you in awe at each turn. The first section of song repeats before giving way to a straight up triumphant metal riff that cleverly intensifies with some black metal tremolo blasting. Where to go from there? Into some alt rock influenced riffing that almost has you thinking Robert Smith from The Cure is about to bust in with a cameo. That leads to yet another excellent post metal breakdown to close out the track. The song flows beautifully thanks to the intense vocal performance and sorrowful riffing.
The next track “Grayscale” follows a similar path and is perhaps overshadowed by how amazing Svalbard’s first contribution to this split is. But make no mistake, this track volleys between most of the elements established early on and is sure to evoke similar emotions out of you. “Allure” starts off quietly with some clean guitar post metal stylings before adding distortion and vocals to the proceedings. While this track leans more in the post metal direction, it is extremely well written and showcases Svalbard’s ability to still play with intensity and urgency even if the music is a little more laid back. The split concludes with the second of the collaborative tracks between the bands. Once again all the vocalists are on hand trading barbs over some metallic hardcore being performed by Svalbard if the titling of the track is to be believed. The split ends much like it began, with an absolutely crushing mammoth of a sludge-tinged riff to awaken you out of your slumber in case you were snoozing on the last track.
4.5 Belated Toilets Ov Hell
Keep up with both Pariso and Svalbard on Facebook by stabbing those links and tell them that the Toilet Ov Hell brought you there. Both bands have since released new material following this split including a full length from Svalbard, who will also see their discography (including their tracks from this split) from 2012 – 2014 released through Holy Roar Records. If that’s not enough, they are currently recording album number two as of this writing. If you like either of these bands, there’s plenty to keep your earholes busy after this release.