Riphead/Drogheda – Land Of Ruin/Violencia

This split’s been floating around for four years now and so far I haven’t met another person who has it even though they go for insanely cheap prices just about anywhere.  Riphead’s an essentially unknown band, but Drogheda isn’t exactly a nobody in the underground grindcore scene.  They’ve been around for a long time, cranking out split after Oklahoma City-bombing split without ever halting- well, until this one, which was created after a four year absence and then followed by four years’ more.  I don’t really understand why this is so unknown, though, as it’s a genuinely worthwhile release.

Riphead begins the festivities with their brand of oldschool death/thrash.  This could really best be described as ‘Seasons In The Abyss’-era Slayer infused with a good deal of oldschool death metal.  That album’s combination of modernity and melody is most certainly represented here by the occasional clean guitar line, thrashy riffs, and sense of overall darkness and vague morbidity.  A lot of the song structures are sort of convoluted in the Suffocation vein, particularly ‘Land Of Ruin’, which adds an air of complexity to the otherwise fairly straightforward music.  The riffs are nice and varied; many are logical death/thrash, but occasionally there slips in a strange, technical riff out of the Suffocation or Gorguts book which adds an almost occult, mystical sound to the music.  It’s more interesting than it seems at first glance, though you have to dig a bit.

Riphead is a good band, but I can sort of see why they never attained a great deal of attention.  Most of their unique aspects are rather buried, and tracks like ‘Shedding’ are a hard listen, with confusing, cryptic structures and riff changes left and right.  It’s non-technical death metal designed to appeal to a tech death crowd, if that makes sense; oldschool music for people willing and able to pay closer attention and think more than on your average Cannibal Corpse album.  Such a qualification doesn’t automatically make this ‘better’ music, but it does make it pretty interesting and unique.  Honestly, I don’t listen to this really frequently; I have to be in a very specific mood for it.  But when that mood strikes me, this is an excellent and unusual side from a very strange perspective in the field of death/thrash.

If you haven’t heard Drogheda’s music before, a good idea of it would be to imagine early Napalm death set in the US circa 1995.  They’re a pretty pure grindcore band without much in the way of death metal influence and are a clear extension of the Napalm Death school of it, minus the crust and punk influences and plus some technicality and subtlety in structuring.  A certain level of groove pops up from time to time, but this is mostly spastic and blasting in nature, with a violently anarchist political bent, noisy and discordant riffs, and an ultra-aggressive, screeching tone throughout.  It’s very violent and hateful music, with a distinct aura of schizophrenic brutality throughout.  It always moves at super high speed, and tracks like ‘Bring Me The Head Of State’ and ‘Hairtriggered Sociopath’ reflect a very purist and savage view of how grindcore should be.

If you’re not a real fan of grindcore, you DEFINITELY won’t be into this stuff.  There’s not much metal to hang on to; unless you take joy in the hateful, violent, only vaguely structured style that Drogheda specializes in, you probably won’t enjoy this.  It’s harsh and unforgiving.  It’s the essence of the terrain of modern grindcore.  Chainsaw riffs intersect with spastic dual vocals and almost randomly changing drumwork, only occasionally settling into something that could be described as ‘normal music’.  Does that description sound appealing to you?  If so, you’re one of the few that will dig this.

This is a good split.  Each side is a unique perspective of its particular genre, although they’ll not be appreciated by all or even most.  I definitely recommend this for fans of underground metal and grind who are looking for something challenging and exciting, rather than yet another Suffoclone or Carcass tribute band.  It’s obviously not for people who just want simple, ‘fun’ music, but for those willing to spend some time and effort on their listening experience, this is really good.

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~ by noktorn on May 26, 2008.

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