10th March 2017 – Self-released
01. The Narrator (Greenhorn)
02. Meteor Blade (Urchin)
Split releases are punk as fuck. They’re also great for bands who lean towards extended-length songs; they allow scope to write a massive track that doesn’t really need to fit the vibe of a longer release. In this case the split is two songs; Greenhorn‘s “The Narrator” and Urchin‘s “Meteor Blade”.
Greenhorn’s side of this split is a sprawling doom track with a Lovecraftian-leaning narrative. Though the song itself is gargantuan – a 20-minute monster – it’s testament to their songwriting skill that the track sounds coherent with callbacks to previous lyrical motifs to outline a structure and frequent pacing changes to shake things up. The track tends towards Iron Maiden-esque bombast in spirit if not content, which helps maintain engagement throughout its massive runtime.
The song’s most immediately impressive feature is the lush vocals which build to harmonised sections, repeated later to close the track. These are presented as a light/dark technique; they’re offset by harsh, guttural vocals in the midsection but they’re also a pleasant, surprising addition. In a sense they’re a reward for the listener, offset against the throaty, punishing midsection. Whatever your stance on extended-length songs they can be exhausting, and it helps to have a fun section to indulge.
Urchin’s Bandcamp lists them as GRIM AS FUCK SEA DOOM and that’s pretty spot-on. “Meteor Blade” is cacophonous and aggressive. Its architecture is masked by the fuzz and chaos whilst the structure of “The Narrator” is comparatively naked. It’s unpredictable and, though much more upfront and throaty, in many ways more subtle than Greenhorn’s epic tendencies. This comes from a different place than “The Narrator“; “Meteor Blade” is more vital and engages more with some contemporary post-metal influences.
There’s a lot of tension in their textures and tumultuous atmospheres, none of which are lost when they shift to their heavier sections. I hear a lot of early Mastodon vibes, especially when they went through their sea creature phase on some of the floater Remission tracks. Importantly though, when “Meteor Blade” hits it hits hard and you stay hit.
Split EPs generally run the risk of not sounding cohesive enough unless the bands have taken a particular effort to synchronise their efforts. I’m happy to report that though both tracks appeal to different sensibilities there’s nothing jarring here, and whilst the Urchin track is delightfully savage, the Greenhorn track is the one that will be the most satisfying to fans of big melodies and fun hooks. This was a winner.