Wednesday, March 13, 2013
REVIEW: ANCIENT SHORES / CYNARAE - SPLIT
A389 Recordings, the label out of Baltimore, has gift-wrapped another lethal offering that should have hazard warnings attached. Eventually A389 LPs will require waivers to be signed, because they release some serious spine-snapping material. Every fan of heavy music owes it to themselves to study the A389 roster and salivate over the talent. This split album featuring Ancient Shores and Cynarae is a great representation of the A389 approach to music making: Songs you break faces to.
When I first heard the band name Ancient Shores, especially matched with the album’s artwork, I was prepared for blackened music that would accompany fog rolling off a black ocean onto the majestic banks of a snowy Norwegian beach. But these shores aren’t majestic, they’re littered with shattered whiskey bottles, discarded switchblades, and the splintered bones of rats caught in food processors. Ancient Shores, a downright dangerous crew from Morgantown, WV, fuse crust, sludge, doom, and heavy slabs of hardcore with punk rock energy that spits on your attempt to classify by genre They share strands of the same DNA as The Secret and the Dazzling Killmen, bands that demand to be separated by how much viciousness they pack into a track as opposed to some forum-created sub-genre. Album opener “SSDD” laces hardcore punk with classic rock licks to create perfect driving music for road-rage enthusiasts. The melancholy, slouched melodies of “The Omen” throws off its sheep disguise and reveals a predatory d-beat wolf beneath. From the dissonant, harrowing doom of “Not on the Ground” to the metallic burst closing “Destroyer,” this is abrasive, mean-spirited music proud of its scarred, ugly mug. Ancient Shores carve their initials into this album with a rusted scalpel deeply enough that the impression is guaranteed to last.
Cynarae rampage through the second half of the album with a murkier, meatier production that reminds me of a meaner, snaggle-toothed cousin of Skitsystem, Earth Crisis, and early-Napalm Death. This nasty Seattle band plays songs that feel like they escaped their cages, running free at last and hungry for whatever bleeds and breathes. They seem unconcerned with polish, relying on ferocious, reckless energy that greatly hints at the mayhem that must occur when these miscreants take a stage. I’ve never seen them perform but I’m going to guess right now that concussions in their pits are not rare and Roger Goodell will approach them about helmet regulations. “An Elegy” is the type of song a band dreams of closing an album on. It thrashes and bangs heads with a massive, confident mid-song riff before leading into the following track “Harbinger,” a grinding assault that pounds skulls into dust and skulldust into nothingness. Unfortunately the album ends on “Attrition,” which just didn’t have the same craft or energy to keep my interest and just faded into memory. Still, there’s plenty of raw promise to convince me that Cynarae is an uncaged animal you need to keep track of, if only to make sure they don’t eviscerate you in the wild.
I strongly encourage you, dear, deranged reader, to check out A389 if you are not familiar with their venomous releases. I’ve read an alarming number of reviews of split albums that pit the bands against each other like it’s some sort of death match. What’s really important is that these bands would share the same bill, they both have blood on their knuckles, and they are perfectly willing to knock your ear drums the fuck out. Bottom line: They are intense bands that know how to inspire a frenzy and are well worth your time. Leave “picking favorites” to those creeps on The Bachelor, this is extreme music and all true ambassadors are welcome.
Listen to the split album here: http://a389recordings.bandcamp.com/album/a389-121-ancient-shores-cynarae-split-12
You can track down Ancient Shores over on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ancientshores
And learn the pronunciation of Cynarae here: https://www.facebook.com/cynaraekittenmachine
And don’t forget to check out 389 Recordings for all their sinister releases: http://www.a389records.com/site/