Monday, March 21, 2011

Kerouac & The Long Haul - 2011 Split

Band : Kerouac & The Long Haul
Album : Split
Release Year : 2011
Genre : Hardcore / Chaotic / Screamo

Tracklist :
1. The Long Haul - Dead Soul/Endless Drag
2. The Long Haul - Lost Harmony
3. The Long Haul - The Passing of Dreamers
4. Kerouac - I Owe Some People The World But I Owe You Shit
5. Kerouac - Young Wounds
6. Kerouac - Porcelain

In August of last year, when Kerouac burst onto the hardcore scene with their debut EP Cold And Distant, Not Loving the world stood up to take notice. With their chaotic fusion of raw intensity and melodic disparities the band displayed heaps of raw ability and in 17 minutes flaunted a maturity other bands can only hope to achieve in a lifetime. Before embarking on a fully fledged long play, Kerouac are releasing a series of split EP’s, the first of which with fellow label-mates and Southampton based hardcore act The Long Haul. Split albums are notoriously inconsistent and often lead to a clear bias towards one act but throughout this split the two acts blend together almost seamlessly to create a surprisingly complete experience.
The record begins with a riff. It’s nothing special to begin with, but three seconds down the line, when Curtis Lightbown-Smith’s raw growl kicks the living *** out of you, a realisation dawns. It’s not apprehension, nor trepidation; it’s far too late for that, but when that primal surge of emotion roars through your veins you know this has the makings of something special. And so begins The Long Haul’s first officially recorded outing – ten minutes of relentless balls-to-the-wall borderline metalcore that will leave even the most resolute listeners breathless and hungry for more. The blueprint itself is fairly simplistic in construction; powerful vocals backed up with technically sound guitar work and brutally fast drum beats (think a less heady version of Botch) but perforated with understated artistic variances. These fluctuations, as illustrated in Dead Soul/Endless Drag, prevent the monotony of repetition and masks the minor flaws into insignificance. Well-timed breakdowns effortlessly shift the tempo down a notch and guest vocalist Lizzy Maries calms proceedings somewhat; her ethereal voice presenting an aura of serenity compared to the frenetic music it accentuates.

The expanse of musical horizons continues on Kerouac’s half of the split. Building on what they accomplished with their debut EP, the dense assortment of chaotic malevolence and astutely layered post-metal remains but has developed considerably in such a short time. Progress, through newly dynamic song structures alongside a distinctly improved vocal performance from Thom Denson lead to the bands best performance thus-far; the colossal Porcelain oozes with a graceful panache before exploding into an acerbic crescendo, all bitter vocals and sharply distorted guitar. Conversely, I Owe Some People The World But I Owe you *** is a full on assault of the senses, taking the belligerent fury of their debut and expanding it into an all-encompassing hybrid. Instruments bleed into one another; guitar, bass and drums incoherently converge to form an anarchistic whole, spitting and snarling in blissful fury.

By itself this split EP is as interesting in structure as it is in quality, for as similar as the two bands are to each other; the differences between them complement each other perfectly giving the record a more rounded feel than any individual venture. On the other hand, the lack of consistency this brings can often taint the continuity somewhat, creating a disparity in the musical flow. With this in mind, the maturity and technical proficiency shown by both acts is astounding and while Kerouac remains the more refined of the two acts, there are noticeable signs that The Long Haul can all but match their Southern English neighbours. It’s too early to predict the long term effects that this split EP will have on either bands’ future but what it does show is that the future for both acts is bright and underlines Southern England as one of the premiere districts for underground hardcore.

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