This is not the split album that we necessarily need – but it is certainly the one we deserve. Split albums are usually pretty fun, especially when two bands of like mind come together and create something that might not be viable on a full release. In this case, it seems like a casserole baked by Relapse Records made up of throwaway songs either band couldn’t fit on a full-length album. Now is the perfect timing for two bands that are likely at the height of their hyped popularity to put some tunes to wax and make their label a bit of money and then it’s on to other things.
So how is the music? It’s… fine. I enjoy Iron Reagan most of the time. Their “DRI on steroids” sound is different enough from Municipal Waste where it can conceivably be considered its own thing. Their live shows are brutal and certainly have a lot of punk ferocity. I’m having a hard time with this one; vocalist Tony Foresta’s voice annoys me and it is way high in the mix. At times, his nasally punk barking is the only thing I can hear, which can be distracting from the quite decent guitar work. There are some really cool riffs on this! The mid-paced riff that ends the song “Burn for This” absolutely rules, but you have to get through about two minutes of Foresta whiny shouting first.
I think Gatecreeper’s contribution on this split is stronger. Still, I’m a bit weary of a band like Gatecreeper. They’ve been called “Entombedcore,” lumped in with bands like Mammoth Grinder and Genocide Pact. They blend that old Swedish death metal sound with just a touch of American hardcore. But as much as I want to call them uninspired, or at least wearing the inspiration too blatantly, I still really like it! There’s a short intro and two neat and tidy death metal songs with some pretty memorable riffs. It’s not like Gatecreeper is doing anything new, but fuck all if it’s not smile-inducing and satisfying. Naming the last song “War Has Begun” is also a nice nod to Bolt Thrower and that gets points with me. The song itself has some slow, doomy bits reminiscent of Asphyx that are also quite enjoyable.
I think I’m turned off mostly to this release because I see it as a quick cash grab from the label (complete with limited edition splatter vinyl!), rather than a release either band was into putting out themselves.