I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never heard either of these British bands before, though they’ve both been around for a handful of years. But that’s what’s great about splits—they’re a bite-sized introduction to acts otherwise unknown, without putting you through the paces of a 72-minute album or something. And while I’m not sure I’d sit through 72 minutes from either outfit, I certainly wouldn’t mind hearing more from them now. Mission accomplished!
Blackburn’s Bastards get the first four songs on here, a solid selection of downtuned sludge with the depressing mood of Crowbar and the occasional Isis atmospherics. Pretty sure the lyrics reference Satan, too, at least on opening track “Yarn.” By contrast, “Wounder” is a punishing piece of blackened sludge that leaves its imprint in less than two minutes, but the rest of their side is awfully low ‘n slow. That said, the verses of “Old Vessels,” their final cut, remind me of Marilyn Manson, leaving a bad taste in my mouth.
Their cohorts in Grimpen Mire trod along a similar path of downtuned despondency, injecting a bit of tough-guy hardcore into the mix with some raw-leather vocals. “Vermin Hive” slows things down a notch, the pacing similar to Demon Lung, albeit with death-metal vocals and without the pinch harmonics…though they do pick up the pace to a steady chug around the halfway mark. The eight-minute “Fragments of a Forgotten Craft” leans more towards Georgia sludge, bringing Harvey Milk and (early) Zoroaster to mind. Had to check to make sure these guys were from Birmingham, England and not Birmingham, Alabama. (I hear it’s not a big college town, anyways.)