Album of the Month

Accomplished and captivating melodic Death/Doom is the hallmark of Vanha's sophomore full-length.
(Read more)

Featured debut

Random band

LA band Ancient Spell merge Trad/Epic Doom with Heavy Metal and some clean/Death vocals, often ending up sounding like a somewhat aggressive harsh-vocall...
(read more)

Excruciation : Excruciation/Babylon Asleep (Split)

A tidy collectable 7" picture disc split, with a storming contribution from Excruciation.

OK, so we don't usually review single-length releases, but we do pretty often take on splits of whatever length. Which makes a split single rather controversial territory as to 'should we/shouldn't we', so I'm gonna make this particular call based entirely on the fact that I personally like Excruciation and haven't heard anything from them since 2016's '[c]rust' full-length.

Because here's the thing about Excruciation: they absolutely rock, and if you haven't already discovered that, then you should take the opportunity now. The Swiss band that really could have invented Death/Doom - a good couple of years before Peaceville hoovered up that particular claim - have been pushing out quality releases true to both their roots and their subsequent evolution since the early '90s. I've previously likened them to Scorpions in that respect, channelling the spirit of Metal over several glorious decades, and I don't see any reason to change that comparison here.

'Towards The Sun' simply has everything you need from a headbanging monstrosity: a bounce and vitality that transcends the intervening years, an irresistibly catchy set of lines anchored by some awesome bass and guitar riffing, and an authentic, recognisable vocal bellow. No autotune, no frills, just a timelessly classic build-up that feeds in each instrument as it ratchets up towards a stomping finale. You'll have heard similar things before, even from the band themselves, with tracks like 'Lutheran Psalms' from the last album. It doesn't matter: I've been adding them to an ever-increasing list of Rock Until You Drop ((c) Raven) favourites since the '70s, and there's always room for one more excellent iteration of the formula. Metal may have steadily expanded into weirder and more...extreme, iconoclastic, genre-blurringly technical or hopelessly rubbish dead-end territories ever since then, and that's all fine. But sometimes, when you just want a fix of familiar quality, the old ways really are the best ways...

I hadn't encountered sludgy German Black/Doom outfit Babylon Asleep before - but with a demo and one previous tape-only split to their name this far, that doesn't seem an unforgivable omission. on the strength of this, they're a more confusing prospect, running the gauntlet between a spooky noise-focused Skullflower vibe and a more punchy leather-lunged Zatokrev sound, with some clean-vocalled Post- type atmospherics thrown in along the way, all in under six minutes. It's a bit too chaotic to form a sensible opinion on, in the space of a single track, but I will say it's intriguing enough to have had me order up their album-length tape split to find out a bit more. Here, and in isolation, though - well, see my previous comment about Metal expanding into weirder territories. It's an interesting feeder into being aware of the band, but in no way compares to the classy effortlessness with which Excruciation crank out their 'Zurich Rock City' (sic) contribution.

So, do you need this? Well, it does rather depend, I think, on local pricing. You are only really getting one bona fide excellent five-odd minute track for your money, but the picture disc vinyl format is a nice one, and I wouldn't consider it particularly expensive, whether bought through Auric Records Bandcamp or any of the usual aftermarket sellers like Discogs. If it looks like a costly investment from where you are, then, no, I wouldn't consider it any kind of priority: if it works out pretty cheap, sure, go for it. But, either way, I'd place it way below the need to have any of Excruciation's full-length releases from 'Last Judgement' onwards. If you've got all of those, maybe you should be adding this to your shopping list....

Click HERE to discuss this review on the doom-metal forum.

Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Towards The Sun
Babylon Asleep
2. Behind Your Light

Visit the Babylon Asleep bandpage.

Duration : Approx. 12 minutes

Visit the Excruciation bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-05-13 by Mike Liassides
Advertise your band, label or distro on doom-metal.com