Sunday Sesh: Splitting Up 2017 with Whitehorse and Upyr

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Holy hell, it isn’t even March yet and we’ve already got some killer splits. 2017 has witnessed new partnerships between Resonance Cascade/JärnbördPalace of Worms/Ecferus, and more I’m sure I’m forgetting. Today, however, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite doom/sludge bands around and the righteous split they’re about to drop. Get ready for Whitehorse and Upyr.

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ve likely seen me whisper (well, not literally seen me, but play along) about the Aussie doom monsters in Whitehorse before. As far as I’m concerned, the murk-dwelling sextet is one of the most genuinely unnerving metal acts around. By combining the creeping pace of funeral doom with absurdly heavy sludge riffs and preposterously inky vocals, Whitehorse creates a convincing atmosphere of eldritch horror better than just about anyone else in the business. Think of Portal playing Black Sabbath covers in Grave Upheaval‘s cavern, and you’re on the right track.

Imagine my elation, then, when I got an email that Whitehorse were releasing a new split! I made my way over to Bandcamp about as quickly as I could and pressed play on “Settled Dust,” a bleak, 18-minute subterranean crawl through ash and bone that is just quintessential Whitehorse. Then I hit play again. And again. It wasn’t just the unholy doom riffs compelling me to dive deeper and deeper into the hadal zone beneath Terra Nullius. No, Whitehorse were doing something a little different hear, something that took me a few listens to really tease out.

While the band has always dabbled in noise and drone elements to enhance the jittering, chittering atmosphere within which their doom metal lurks, there was a surprising hint of beauty here I had not detected before. Melancholic beauty, like a wilting flower in winter, aye, but beauty nonetheless. At about 10 minutes into the song, a delicate, vulnerable string arrangement rears its head from black refuse like a frightened creature struggling desperately to keep its head above the obsidian tides trying to pull it under. This arrangement adds an unexpected melody to the song and shows us a side of the doom sextet yet unseen, one that hides beneath its veneer of violence and despair a plaintive desperation. Honestly, this little element took me aback, but I’m almost ready to declare this the best song Whitehorse has ever written. It’s wonderful to see a band you enjoy evolving ever so slightly while still playing to their strengths. Thank you, Whitehorse.

It’s not entirely fair to say that the second half of the split, featuring Bulgaria’s doom quintet Upyr, is a bit of a comedown after the first half; after all, any doom band would be pressed to deliver a song that manages to balance fear and majesty so powerfully. For their part, though, Upyr perform admirably, deftly blending a much more traditional approach to doom with bold vocals and hard-rockin’ riffs. Whereas Whitehorse’s side is all gloomy mire, Upyr’s is almost upbeat and jaunty by comparison, and I suppose that’s a good thing. It’s a good juxtaposition that allows the quintet to stand on their own. Fans of big, loud riffs, headbanging drums, and mighty verses are sure to love Upyr’s two tracks here.

Ultimately, the Whitehorse/Upyr split is a great contribution to an already terrific year for both delivering us one of the most powerful funeral doom songs ever written and for daring to pair that track with two headbangers. It’s an interesting combination, but one I’m sure you’ll find rewarding.

So, Toilet pals, what splits are you rocking this year. Sound off in the comments below.

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  • Doom Scientist

    This sounds like a job for …DOOM SCIENTIST!!!

    • Howard Dean
      • Doom Scientist

        My favorite Marvel villain(not surprising).

        • Sid Vicious Promos

          My favorite villain is either Magneto or Mr. Sinister.

          • Doom Scientist

            Classic.

          • Sid Vicious Promos

            I always liked X Men and its various spinoffs. I’ve been thinking about reviewing old episodes of the ECW TV shows and WCW Monday Nitro for a project. I might even review old wrestling games such as the ECW games.

          • Doom Scientist

            I still have a few issues of New Mutants hiding in my closet.

      • Rain Poncho W.

        Also warlock.

  • Doom Scientist

    Of the two, I prefer UPYR.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    I’ll have a plate of Whitehorse, please!

    http://www.my-wall-decal.com/img/bon_appetit_wall_decal_single.jpg

  • DARKBEARD

    i always dislike a split with two disparate bands

    • Howard Dean

      Me too. You always get the feeling it was a case of the label being like: “Hey, does anyone have any leftover material or cover tracks they’d like to release in a split with [random disparate band]?”

      • DARKBEARD

        most of the time id rather you just give me a 7″

        • Howard Dean

          I really enjoy splits where the bands make sense together and the quality is really high–splits like the Weltenfeind split or that old Thorns vs. Emperor split or the Hordanes Land split (Emperor and Enslaved). You can usually tell pretty quickly when it’s one of those “throw together” splits. And yeah, I’d definitely rather just have a solid EP than one of those.

          • DARKBEARD

            man, i keep thinking of popping on that Weltenfiend LP box but the cheapest ones are well over $100

          • Howard Dean

            I know you prefer vinyl, but I’d recommend the CD if you don’t already have it. There are tons of them out there. Should be cheap.

          • DARKBEARD

            yeah i know they are still pressing the CD, I think HH might even have stock. just thinking the box LP would look nice in my collection

          • Dave Vincent’s Perm

            The last Sigrblot song on that split >>>>>

          • Howard Dean

            Sigrblot >>>>>>>>>>>>

            Would love to see a followup album to Blodsband manifest one day, but don’t imagine that’s gonna happen (since it’s been 14 years).

          • Dave Vincent’s Perm
          • Dave Vincent’s Perm

            I’d kill for a reprint of that shirt they did with the statue of liberty having its throat slit just for maximum edge too.

      • Rain Poncho W.

        I dunno if it’s a label thing with Whitehorse as they’ve done splits with other dissimilar bands (The Body and Batillus). Maybe they just like showing different sides of doom.

        That said, I’d love to hear them do a split with a cavernous death metal band like Grave Miasma.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY
    • Eliza

      These are good jams. I’d like to add something: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dq8YcRi7DD4

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        At the moment I’m also jamming…

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9a-adqbp1tA

        • Eliza

          The music is neat, but the vocals can be kinda funny at times.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            The vocals always put me off in the past, but I went out and bought the album and they honestly get a whole new dimension when listened to with headphones on

          • Eliza

            I tried to listen to the song with headphones on as an experiment and the vocals just got funnier. I guess I have to let some time pass to look at this band with different eyes (or listen to it with different ears?).

        • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

          Nattramn is one of my favourite vocalists ever. Few people do total psychic torment as well.

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        And I always approve of Kyuss. Another album I jammed today is:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZdmF8l1ZK0

    • Howard Dean

      Malevolent Creation >>>>
      Ved Buens Ende >>>>>>
      Godflesh >>>>>>>>
      Ulver >>>>>>>>>>
      Aspid >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    • Eliza

      I need more Ved Buens Ende.

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        I think I managed to buy the last available cd copy of that album hahaha. And I didn’t even have to pay THAT much.
        Truly demented stuff.

        • Eliza

          If I can’t get a copy of that album, at least there’s some uploads of their songs on YouTube. I hope. Because this sounds awesome.

      • Hahahaha there isn’t any more. (Not really.)

        • DARKBEARD

          but the members are in other well-known bands. Fuckin Aura Noir, Strid, and Dodheimsgard

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            All of those bands did solid stuff, but none of them really came close to the warped mindfuck VBE was.

          • Yeah but if you’re looking for that VBE flavor then you’re going to skip all that noise and head straight to VIRUS town (with maybe a quick pitstop at 666 International for some misguided trippiness).

        • Eliza

          What is there is good enough.

  • Old Man Doom

    Fuckin’ A. That Whitehorse is just what the doctor ordered.

  • Whitehorse is pretty cool but their poor violinist(s?) must get bored as fuck waiting for their turn to play.

    • Rain Poncho W.

      This song made me really hope they keep in this direction. I like they’re noisier side, but this song is beautiful.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    I have an irrational suspicion of splits, even though I tend to appreciate them when actually listening, and this indeed is rather good.

  • James

    This is my current jams.
    https://youtu.be/GOfbIhB_QWk

  • JWG79

    For years I avoided buying split LPs or EPs because discovering bands through the ‘non familiar’ half of the split (instead of more methodically and systematically) could be hazardous to my wallet given I’m unable to resist collecting whole discographies of bands I even marginally enjoy.

    Then I stopped being so stingy. And proved myself absolutely right.

    Fortunately Bandcamp more often than not (e.g. artist pages) lets me get only the familiar half of splits rather than the whole (e.g. label pages).

  • Shakes 999

    I’m glad I decided to skip to the last half of Whitehorse because that was actually quite pleasant. I can’t deal with the 10 minutes leading up to it thou. Most Doom bores me to tears and this wasn’t any different.