Bent Sea is a grindcore/death metal band comprised of Shane Embry (Napalm Death), Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork), and Sven de Caluwe (Aborted, Oracles). They report focus on animal liberation and human justice, Cleveland grind group To Dust, on the other hand, simply "aim to send listener’s on a whirlwind through a chaotic, tumultuous, corrupted, distorted, and decaying world with no escape in sight." To Dust is Zach Gibson (Black Dahlia Murder, Abigail Williams, Phobia), Joe Reed (Severed Remains), and Thomas Haywood Jr (Abigail Williams, Aborted, System Divide). Together, the stars aline for a truly sinister summer solstice.
Beginning with the Bent Sea side, it's impossible to describe a project involving busy boy Sven without mentioning Aborted. His voice is just so tied to that project's sound as to bring that connection into play no matter the context. "To The Extreme" is the perfect opening track for this split, and a welcome tribute worthy of its title. This is easily my favorite song on the album and does an excellent job summing it up in its brief 1:16 runtime. Death vocals, ripping punk guitar lines, and some of the most ferocious drumming of the year in terms of speed . The production on the kit is stellar, making each snare hit like an exploding machine gun round.
To Dust's side is no less heavy. In fact, the vocals take things to a new level. Mixing brutal death grunts and Pig Destroyer/Napalm Death snarls, I don't see much room for complaint here. And while I couldn't find any information confirming this, I swear I heard Courtney LaPlante's (iwrestledabearonce) trademark shrieks on "Tumbeiros." Maybe it's just a similar approach. The distortion has an even more pronounced gutter punk feel, though these power chords are alternated with plenty of blackened tremolo lines and a bit of mathy groove as well. "Amaryllus" and "The Perspectivist" were my personal favorites on this half. The latter has some insanely catchy hooks and drumming.
Blink and you'll miss it. but Ascend / Descend never skmps on quality. I decided to spin this record one more time as I wrote this, and Bent Sea's half was nearly over by the time I finished the first paragraph. If you are a grindcore fan, or tend to be picky about this genre like me, this is regardless a split to remember. A lot of grind groups tend to lob 50 tracks out there hoping a few will stick, but I don't think that's the way to go. At 27 minutes and 10 tracks, this release feels just right and gives each track enough of the spotlight to stand on its own. Personally, I slightly favor To Dust's contributions, but I plan on listening to both on many a drive to work.