Old Soul / ████ Split


Old Soul / ████Split

Released 1 June 2014 (Zegema Beach Records

By Patrick DeBonis

Splits, demos, and other first, raw releases are rarely given any recognition.  The bands are either young and still finding themselves or established and are trying to sell the tracks that didn’t make the cut for the next album.  So when a band reaches acclaim through the first gritty lo-fi release there is a good reason.

Old Soul is a black metal- screamo band from Michigan and ████ (pronounced: we don’t have a name) is similarly styled, but post-everything, band from Pilsen, Czech Republic. Practically a world apart the two bands have created this split and a tour to go along with it.  It marks Old Soul’s fourth release and the second for ████.  This split in collaboration with the existence of Deafheaven represents how the world is continually shrinking and that no idea is new or original.

The side of the vinyl that Old Soul is etched into (its either the top or bottom depending on how you look at it) contains two tracks swathed in harsh screaming vocals with breakneck drum pace and the never ending ebbing and flowing of guitar riffs.  Feedback sneaks in and out of the breakdowns and abrupt decompositions to chaos.  Old Soul’s effort leaves a concise offering of exceptionally black and intense tracks that might cast their own shadow if it wasn’t being covered by the black ominous (and frankly obnoxious) black bar.

The unnamable band laps up all of the attention on this split, and rightly so. 2013 saw their first release simply titled demo with four equally unnamed tracks.  As everyone who has heard these nameless bastards knows, a shocking and almost unbelievable parallel exists between them and the over blown Deafheaven.  Yes, bands sound like each other more often than not, but what makes this situation mildly impressive is the fact that the two bands rose to power practically simultaneously on opposite sides of the globe.  This has been known to happen before throughout history, one of my favorite examples being the invention of calculus by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz in the same synchronized yet oblivious manor.  Being that there are now over seven billion people on the planet it should not be surprising that this could happen to two musical groups.

When ideas develop separately but simultaneously it is not a coincidence but rather an obvious societal next step.  All of the stars need to align and when the group, whether it be the mathematical community or a world’s worth of musicians, is ready someone(s) will make the next logical jump.  The case of the band with the unpronounceable name and Deafheaven can be speculated as the next logical step in a circular musical progression.  Simply speaking, the masses of music listeners were ready to be lead forth by artfully blackened screamo and thus two groups stepped up to fill the void.  It is of course a circular musical progression because similar screamo, or however you want to define these bands, was popular in the past and is only resurfacing again under a new shinny coat of paint.

While circumstance creates the stage for the non-internet searchable Czechs and Deafheaven to be hosted upon, something unique resides in both of them to audition for the stage in the first place.  Bolded-black-boxes marry art rock to the blackest depths of post-everything 90’s music.  Having only released demos so far a raw untamed nature follows the undetectable transitions through beautifully constructed swells and phrasing in the pair of epics “V” and “VI.”

Musical skill, composition competence, and unmatched emotion set we don’t have a name apart from Old Soul and any other band of similar stature or style. On the other hand, Deafheaven also posses each of these key markers but what sets these two bands apart is not a ranking mechanism; it is personality.  Each band executes the same style of music dangerously well, but with their own edge to it.

The world is continually shrinking and we only need to look at the relationship between these three bands to see.

Rating: Loved It 


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