There’s something primitive about the split between Escape Is Not Freedom and dusK Village. Both bands create music that taps in to the deep, animal part of your brain, evoking primal emotional responses – fear, anger, love. The noise rock bands add considerable sludge elements to their songs, with the riffs and hooks latching on to the listener and practically demanding a response. It’s not all about base instincts and rage though, with this split demonstrating how effective noise rock aspects can be when wedded to something a bit less, well, noisy.
Escape Is Not Freedom take the first side, with their first track ‘Boiling Nails’ coming across in a manner every bit as brutal as the title implies. Down-tuned, groove-filled riffs power the song along, bringing to mind bands as varied as Bleach-era Nirvana, Eyehategod, and the heavier moments of Deftones’ White Pony. It’s noisy, it’s muscular, and it evokes those instinctive responses, offering catharsis through losing yourself in its physicality. It’s second song ‘We’re Wrecked’ that is really note-worthy though, combining spacious, almost post-rock vistas with more typical sludge and noise rock weight and volume. It’s topped off with the clean, emotional vocals of Emily Jancetic, who guests on the song, and lends it a grace and vulnerability that makes its more typical noise rock movements all the more effective. Its closing movements move with the kind of combination of punk energy and sludge heft that characterized early grunge, and sound absolutely great.
The two songs from dusK Village are devoted to the nastier, more vicious side of the noise rock spectrum. ‘Exolife Civilization Leak’ has the kind of malevolent atmosphere (and twisted vocals) more commonly associated with extreme metal, coming across as if Dragged Into Sunlight decided to write a noise rock track. ‘A Self Fan’ is more up-tempo, moving with a rock’n’roll poise and swagger, that brings to mind early Mudhoney as much as it does Unsane – though admittedly, it sounds much nastier and violent than either of those bands ever have. Whereas Freedom Is Not Escape offer a sense of grace and freedom with their music, dusK Village are focused on twisting their music in to much more threatening, unsettling shapes.
It’s good to hear such variety on so short a split, not just between the bands but also across the songs they contribute. There’s melody and creativity displayed by both bands, mixed in with a sense of violent desperation, and the end results are undeniably cathartic.
Split is due for release on 23 February 2018, and can be pre-ordered digitally via Bandcamp.