The thing I love about split releases, aside from being presented with the music of at least two different bands, is that they’re fairly unique to “underground” music. You won’t go into your local Best Buy and see a split between Nickelback and 311 or something. It’s a great way for each band to expose themselves to the other band’s fan base, and since most splits tend to be bands with similar sounds, it generally works out well. Heading into this split, I had only heard Schematics for Gravity, though I was familiar with Rings of Rhea. Cathedraal was completely unknown to me, but knowing (at least roughly) what the first two sound like was enough to inspire confidence in me that they would be good.
I didn’t have to wait too long to find out, as Cathedraal leads off the three way split. Aside from finding out that they’re from Paris, I still know relatively little about them – they have all of the areas of online presence, there’s just not a lot of info about who does what, or even how many members are in the band. There’s something about the mystery there that really appeals to me. After listening to the split, to call their brand of chaotic screamo the odd sound on the release is only slightly accurate – they’re not a band that you would typically classify under one of the “post” categories, but it fits very well with the other two bands here. Imagine something along the lines of Envy, and you’re on the right track. Their portion of the release starts off with a very cold feeling, sounding to me like wind blowing through an abandoned factory. The drums and guitar start to fade in slowly, before kicking in full volume accompanied by the bass and vocals. As far as screamo vocals go, this is exactly how I like them. They’re very similar to the vocal style of Tetsuya Fukagawa (hence the earlier Envy comparison), very passionate and emotional. Even though I don’t speak French, I can still pick up on the passion and intensity, which are two very key things to me.
The music works perfectly here, the first song, “Les Chiens Rouges Sont Lâchés”, is a grooving track that, musically, is the closest to something “post” presented in their three songs. The track stomps along before calming down into a swirl of feedback for a bit, then kicks back in with the intensity and speed of a black metal song. The anxiety and chaos here is incredible, and makes for a very tense feeling. This tension carries over into the following song, “Qui Pense Encore à Toi?”, starting out with another solid groove that kicks into hyper-fast black metal mode. It’s something of a formula amongst these three songs, but it works to tie them together well. This track in particular expands on that quite a bit with some wonderful melodic moments. The juxtaposition between the guitar harmonies and the desperate vocals is absolutely fantastic. “La Ville Brûle Depuis Des Jours” starts off with a melody strummed on an autoharp, certainly not something you hear often in this genre. The autoharp continues accompanied only by drums and vocals for over a minute, before the guitar comes in, though it’s very light, distant, and airy. It’s a beautiful beginning to the track, and by the time the bass kicks in about halfway through, the autoharp’s presence fades a bit to the background, which coupled with the faint guitar makes for a very haunting sound. At around 3:30, a layer of guitar comes forward, creating one of the most powerful moments present during their three songs. A brilliant way to end their portion of the release, and to make me want to investigate them further.
Rings of Rhea, hailing from Ukraine, bridge the gap between the other two bands nicely, playing a mix of scream and post-metal, with some hints of sludge thrown in for good measure. They start off the first of their two songs, “Destruction”, with an ominous, quiet intro that slowly builds up to an eruption. The ominous feeling carries throughout the song, with the hoarse screams layered a bit in the background, trudging along at an almost sludge pace before things get a little frantic around the 6 minute mark. The last minute is a fade out of guitars, joined by a light, sorrowful piano melody which fades perfectly into the follow up track, “Creation”. The two truly feel like one track, split into two parts. The title of this track is very appropriate, as the music builds up and feels like something grand is being created after the frantic crash of the preceding “Destruction”. The only downside here is that after the speed and intensity of the Cathedraal songs, you’re left wanting a bit more. Given the layout of the split, I think that this is less of a reflection on Rings of Rhea in general, and more of an example of on of the ways splits can provide differing sounds.
Where the second part of the split felt a bit lacking, Schematics for Gravity bring the intensity back, though not in the same way as Cathedraal. Things move very slowly here, but there’s a method and emotion to it. These Swedes work very well with the traditional feel and orchestration of post-rock, adding a bit of a metal edge via the guitar tones and screamed, distant vocals. The vocals possess the same element of being layered under the instruments as Rings of Rhea, but I feel like it works better here. Both of their tracks, “Cast in the Same Mold” and “Behind Closed Doors”, have a beautiful quality to them thanks to the way the music and vocals play off of each other so well. They have a strange way of feeling both sad and inspiring at the same way, which to me, speaks volumes about their ability as a band to construct a post-whatever song. “Behind Closed Doors” is the best example of this, of the two tracks, going from a sorrowful intro, to a nearly upbeat bridge, and closing it back out with a hint of sadness. There’s an element of shoegaze in what they do, and I think it works nicely.
All in all, I think this is a great release. I don’t think that the Rings of Rhea tracks are bad at all, in fact I really enjoyed them and they do make for a great transition, they just sort of lack the intensity of the other two bands. Knowing that this isn’t really going to be the style preferred by many readers, this split is a really shining example of the European post-metal scene, with each band contributing something a little different to the table. Interestingly, it seems as though the Schematics for Gravity songs were added almost last minute, as the original album artwork indicates a split between just Cathedraal and Rings of Rhea. Good choice to tack those on!
All three bands have bandcamp pages with pay what you will releases, while Cathedraal and Schematics for Gravity provide links to download the split. Both bands also provide a mediafire link so you can grab the whole thing at once.
Rings of Rhea: http://ringsofrhea.bandcamp.com/
Schematics for Gravity: http://schematicsforgravity.bandcamp.com/
Grab the whole thing via mediafire: www.mediafire.com?r9pya000enak4e9