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Excruciation : Stig .C. Miller/Excruciation (Split)

As good as it gets for a split single: veterans Excruciation and Stig .C. Miller combining forces on a quality picture disc.

Having but recently elucidated on why we might sometimes cover singles - well, we've been following this mini-series of 7" picture disc splits from our friends in Excruciation, partly as an interesting taster of the bands they've chosen to partner with and partly because there's still no sign of a full-length follow-up to 2016's '[c]rust'. This is the third, and apparently the last, of the vinyls to emerge from their Auric Records label in the last couple of years, and I think you could make the case for definitely having saved the best...

It was nice to discover Babylon Asleep, and interesting to see what Heavydeath could do with brevity, but here's something considerably more classic. Amebix: remember them? The first Crust Punk band, gave us a couple of highly influential albums back in the mid-'80s, another as Zygote in the '90s, and (I'm pleased to now realise) a third under the original moniker from a short-lived 2011 comeback. Since then, co-founder Stig .C. Miller has been working on occasional solo - mostly acoustic - tracks released through Bandcamp, from which 'Rising Son' has been taken.

It's been a good couple of decades and more since I last listened to Amebix. My fault for never having invested in the CD re-releases - an omission now corrected thanks to this handy reminder. Which, I should add, is a cracking little number in its own right, and the first ever solo physical release from Miller. A little more driving than most of his latterday pieces, but nonetheless world-weary and moody, carried along by a tiredly rasping laconic clean vocal and a guitar that sits on the Punk/Metal borderline as well as anything from the old days. I don't know that you'd want to call it doomy, as such, but you shouldn't have any great difficulty seeing common ground between this and the roots of Crust/Post-Core, or, indeed, why it dovetails with Excruciation's own lengthy and varied career.

Speaking of which, the flipside is one of the latter's more atmospheric-style tracks, building up slowly and deliberately around a foreboding bass riff. Slick as you like, the feed-in from the other instruments shifts from discrete to continuous, Eugenio's vocals slip from restrained cadence to more hard-edged declamation, and the guitars come crashing in for a perfectly-timed crescendo to close things off. I'd hesitate to describe it as 'typical' - there's something of a Bauhaus-y Post-Punk vibe threaded into the track, complementing Miller's offering - except in the way that it has that modern-day Excruciation hallmark of sounding absolutely polished, almost on rails, and yet maintaining a hard-rocking passion and unpredictability. It's not an easy line to tread, keeping a fresh feel to the slick polish of a talented veteran outfit, but it's something they just do - as well as anyone in the business, and more consistently than most.

Rounding out the short but extremely satisfying musical oeuvre, you get creepy sepia Victorian-style baby photographs decorating the thick vinyl slab, and a card insert with lyrics and credits, which makes for a nice little package overall, especially alongside the others in the series. And whilst the value-for-money aspect always makes it difficult to fully recommend a brief physical split as an essential purchase, this gets pretty close to it.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
Stig .C. Miller
1. Rising Son
2. City Of Smiles

Duration : Approx. 9 minutes

Visit the Excruciation bandpage.

Reviewed on 2019-01-04 by Mike Liassides
Vanha - Black Lion
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