Despise You / Agoraphobic Nosebleed - And On and On...
25 songs (32:32)
Release year: 2011
Reviewed by Koeppe

Splits are interesting phenomena. Sometimes, they are just simply two 7” releases conjoined for some unknown reason. Other times, though, it seems as if in the creation of the split release, the bands incorporate one another’s sound, influences, and general vibe in such a way that each side of the split appears as a B-side to the other, despite being from two wholly different bands. And the wholly different aspect is important, because two generic punk bands, for example, sounding the same wouldn’t be anything to write home about. This split is a case of the latter, where Despise You seems to have pushed themselves towards creating a grind-ier sound. Agoraphobic Nosebleed, as well, has pounced at the chance to stretch their legs, incorporate more hardcore and nihilistic sludge in order to create less of the frantic blur that they normally do and truly captures the bleak, imprisoning tone, which Despise You creates. All in all, this shit is awesome.

Despise You lay down 18 tracks of West coast powerviolence/hardcore. After over ten years of having not released a thing, this was well worth the wait. For those not in the know, Despise You basically makes hardcore that captures all of the depression of being a hopeless, drug-addled heroin addict and distills that into aural form. But sometimes they sound so cheerful while doing so (their cover of Fear’s “I Don’t Care About You” sticks out in this regard). For those unfamiliar with the band, they basically had one badass powerviolence album, Westside Horizons, anger and rage distilled into a pure form. They rely on male and female vocals, a la punk bands like Contravene or Securicor, that the higher pitch shouts contrast with the deeper grunts in a way that might take some time getting used to, but really lightens up the mood. A lot of their contribution on And On and On… continues the sound that they had perfected, yet the moments in which they turn it up to 11, they speed up their sound, garble their lyrics and really push into that cacophonous sound that makes grind so great are the stand out moments. The hilarity of Roll Call’s literally going through a list of “fuck you” and on and on. Shit Goes in, Shit Comes Out opens with the fuzzy bass that you just can’t find anywhere else in hardcore before the band squeezes out a breakneck paced track in nine seconds. Painted Gray, All the Regimes You Hold Most Dear, and Seven Funerals stand out amongst the barrage and flurry of powerviolence/hardcore tracks that take up most of Despise You’s half of the album. The tracks are all great, but as the case with these types, they blast through them faster than you can keep up.Their last track, Cedar Ave. (Was the Best Place to Watch People Ascend to Heaven) enters into a sort of droning that’ll rattle your speakers, the band slowing it down in a way that I don’t remember on their earlier releases. It’s a really successful intermission between the two band’s segments that transitions into ANb’s equally uncharacteristic excursion into the pure sludge of Half-Dead.

Agoraphobic Nosebleed takes this split as the opportunity to showcase just how diverse they can be in fifteen minutes. They are still doing that whole blistering twenty-six second tracks that you either love or hate, but continuing with that last paragraph, Half-Dead is thick. Reminiscent of the sludgy doom of related acts like Salome, Katz’ former act, or even Batillus, who Katz has ties to, the track stretches the chords and vocals out to a haunting, ominous moan before kicking into a badass characteristically Hull riff ending on a headbanging note. From there, As Bad As It Is… tells us really how bad it is these days over top of that classic galloping Hull riff that made Pig Destroyer so great over the years. Here rather than the standard politically incorrect obscenity for the sake of obscenity, ANb takes a page from DY’s playbook and just depresses you despite making you headbang yourself an aneurysm. Miscommunication marks the first appearance of Katz’ rage on the album and is more reminiscent of past Anb tracks. The woman is a beast. After seven seconds of a blistering verse, the heaviest breakdown imaginable erupts as Katz just growls such a mean growl. This album really displays Hull relying on the classic hardcore schema for breakdowns moreso than on past ANb albums without it sounding at all like PD. Ungrateful might be one of my favorite tracks on the album with a solid mid-pace groove that shows off Hull’s drum programming skills, rather than simply blasting away as the beginning of the track does it really settles into a solid grooving rhythm. Possession is easily the best track on the album, being an exercise in just how much can be squeezed into a not even three minute track. Hull provides a mean solo a minute into it, followed by another killer galloping riff about 1:40 into the track before closing out the track with an awesome upbeat breakdown. It really showcases what they can do in terms of layering as a “cybergrind” band with the solo overlapping the breakdown riff; it’s as if there are multiple Scott Hulls in the band. Burlap Sack is a mean tune with a sludgy down-tuned riff that isn’t afraid to drop and Katz just being maniacal on that mic. It’s a solid close to a vicious album; it gives you a chance to catch your breath with its plodding buildup to the droning noise that closes the album.

This album is an amazing split. Easily one of the most enjoyable splits that I have ever come across. Despise You returns out of nowhere to drop eighteen amazing tracks, while Agoraphobic Nosebleed continues the progression that they developed on Agorapocalypse while honestly transcending what they had put out on that album. It gives one hope for their next project, which will consist of four albums, each with one of the different vocalists. Even if those “albums” only amount to seven minutes worth of material, these sixteen minutes of material showed just how creative the band can be in the limited space that they choose to operate with. This album was easily one of the best releases of last year despite having only been a split. I would recommend it to any and all possible fans of Hull’s previous work or hardcore in general.

Killing Songs :
Roll Call, Fear’s Song, Painted Gray, All the Regimes You Hold Dear, As Bad As It Is…, Miscommunication, Ungrateful, Possession
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