Album: Collected and Harvested – Split
Let’s take a second to talk about stereotypes—especially as they apply to split albums. Splits are a popular device to release material between full EPs or albums, often featuring one or two songs from two similar bands. When one thinks of splits, one probably thinks of traditional hardcore bands releasing one track good enough to be a single and another track that might have just been lying around, a B-side to a previous album or scratch track from a future release. In this light, splits seem pretty…dull. And often times, they are—as only really die-hard fans of one band or another will really ever take the time to listen to them. As long as splits adhere to the humdrum stereotype, they’re, in all honesty, lackluster; however, Collected and Harvested is far from a humdrum stereotype. Featuring six different juggernauts from bands influenced by all things slam, this split is essentially a full-length release from a diverse heavy music collective that launches a 45-minute all-out war on the listener’s sanity.
While each band plays a similar style of intense death metal infused with crunchy, bold deathcore, no two bands are really the same. Therefore, conventional criteria like “transitioning” and “song writing” are thrown for a loop—after all, how does one accurately compare Cunt Cuntly’s trademark progressive deathcore instrumentation to Artificial Pathogen’s gurgle-infused, mile-a-minute slamming death metal? Musical discrepancies aside, what can be honestly said about Collected and Harvested is that it is a titanic collective of crushing, talented instrumentation that spans a variety of genres. Despondent is likely the most balanced and all-inclusive of the various instrumentalists this gigantic split has to offer—as guitars range from taciturn, innocuous grooves to over-the-top solos and spine-shredding breakdowns. The vocals are just as varied, with guest vocalists that bring diversity and intensity to the band’s go-to growls. Viewing these Ohio aggressors as the “neutral” point, Collected and Harvested then veers into two extremes: belligerently heavy slam-infused insanity and adventurous, technical—but still massively heavy—progression.
Collected and Harvested’s heavy side is relentless, borrowing heavily from slam-and-brutal death metals to oppress the listener more violently than ten Stalins and ten thousand gulags. Artificial Pathogen, Vomit and moments of Despondent’s parts of this split attack the listener like a pack of starved velociraptors. “Amniotic Sac Fermentation” (Vomit) sounds as if someone took Devourment and Ingested and blended them together at high speed, while Artifical Pathogen’s “Reformation of Filth” lets loose with a slamming, break-neck onslaught that purist death metal fans will find themselves addicted to in no time. Vocally, these artists (with the exception of Despondent) favor gurgly, completely unintelligible vocals that only veterans of slam will reap the true benefits of. Botfly Infestation is especially guilty of this—already appearing with a quiet, botched mix—and delivering early 2000’s pornogrind vocals that, for lack of a better term, should have stayed in the early 2000s. Botched-fly Infestation aside, Collected and Harvested’s dense, extreme and eviscerating slam-laden tracks are exceptional displays of everything brutal deathcore fans could want: skin-peeling blast beats, raunchy breakdowns, prolapse inducing slams and lyrics that would make you vomit if you had any clue what they actually were.
Fortunately for the listener less-invested in slamming filth, there is still plenty to enjoy on Collected and Harvested. Still abrasive and unbelievably heavy, AnimalFarm, Cunt Cuntly and a majority of Despondent’s contributions to this release are bouncy, bold and brutal all in perfect ratios. “Continents of Concrete” (AnimalFarm) is a riff-driven, groove-laden machine hell-bent on breaking the listener’s back. Likewise, Cunt Cuntly’s“Degenerative Metamorphic Entity” (the cringe worthy “scientific” song titles are out in force) is an epic, progressive journey through shred, chug and shrill, exciting vocals that lasts a mere minute-and-half, but makes a defining mark on the entire release. Likewise, Despondent’s “Immaculate Desolation” is likely the strongest over-all track on the entire release, as well as the defining song of the band’s career. Here, Despondent combine immense grooves, a hair-raising solo and boundless brutality with the added bonus of Ben Duerr’s vocal prowess, bringing together the entire over-all message of this megaton split into one five-minute-long journey.
For better or worse, Collected and Harvested is the farthest thing out there from ordinary. Collecting talent from across the extreme metal stratum and Harvesting the essence of bone-busting brutality, this release is a fun and well-rounded sampler of all things slam, giving the listener an excellent example of who to keep an eye on, and who to avoid.
Artifical Pathogen: 3.5/5
Cunt Cuntly: 4/5
Botfly Infestation: 1/5
Overall Score: 20.5/30 or 7/10
By: Connor Welsh