Label: Husk Records
Look at that artwork! No, seriously, look at it. Your first impressions will probably be similar to mine – that it’s crude, violent, and wonderfully over-the-top. But look closer, and there’s something more to it; it’s clear that the overall effect is completely intentional, with small aspects that demonstrate subtle talent. The same is true of the music contained within. Both Black Knife and Lustrum make music that, on the surface, is every bit as lurid as the cover to this split, all 80’s extreme thrash riffs, punk violence, and snarling, proto-black metal vocals. But such is the conviction and talent of the bands that there’s no mistaking this for anything other than the real deal, and it’s bloody brilliant fun.
Black Knife take the first side, with four songs of rocking black metalpunk. Like the bastard spawn of Venom and Motorhead, songs like ‘Vampyrik Grip’ and ‘Black Knife’ are utterly lacking in subtlety and all the better for it. This is music soaked in alcohol-fueled violence and satanic evil, made for nights spent headbanging and raising hell. The only real deviation from this template is ‘Beyond the Mortuary’, which takes a more mid-tempo approach and even uses some keyboard atmospherics which – surprisingly – works rather well. Hugely enjoyable, Black Knife’s side absolutely slays.
The three contributions from Lustrum are along a similar line, but with an even rawer production and a greater sense of unhinged danger. Live versions of these songs previously appeared on Lustrum Plays With Madness, but the studio versions – though they lack some of the insanity of those recordings – are (slightly) more accessible, with the riffs coming through more clearly. First song ‘Into Shit of Nights’ is a mid-tempo scene-setter, but the following two tracks – ‘Too Wild for the Crowd’ and ‘Motorsex’ – are where Lustrum shine. With their faster tempos and metalpunk attitude, these songs are snarling demons drawn from the DNA of 80’s extreme metal and Motorhead, full of “fuck you!” spirit and riff-laden violence. It’s delightfully over-the-top, utterly unfashionable, and makes even the likes of Abigail and Aura Noir seem like mainstream pop music.
A split that’s very much of the underground, then, with two bands presenting takes on crude black-thrash that’s full of attitude. It’s not flashy, or ground-breaking, but much like the covering artwork, there’s more going on here than you might initially think. Ugh!