“I must admit,” Ivan began, “I have never been able to understand how it was possible to love one’s neighbors. And I mean precisely one’s neighbors, because I can conceive of the possibility of loving those who are far away. … If I must love my fellow man, he had better hide himself, for no sooner do I see his face than there’s an end to my love for him.”
The Brothers Karamazov
The Invention of Ruin
Splits are tricky. You have to carefully pair up your bands to keep things balanced. If two bands' talents are mismatched, one will end up looking weaker by comparison. That's what happens in this tag team between German crusties AXT and Bluthuf. Think of this as the grudge rematch between the hare and that uppity tortoise. And this time that arrogant testudinae gets what's coming to it. This is a pairing that plays speed off of sloth and speed will win every time.
Bluthuf's three slow motion crust punk jams just drag in comparison to AXT's six thrashing bangers. Where AXT's side of this 7-inch is played with reckless speed, by contrast Bluthuf sound enervated and weighed down. The unhealthy girth of their songs only serve to make the side by side comparison more glaring.
Instead, AXT's fastcore is everything you ask from the genre: the guitars buzz nicely and chop up the songs like saws, the drums sound like the flailing of a madman and the vocals are all raw throated passion spit from overtaxed vocal cords. The lyrics check off all the expected boxes: war, guilt, self-loathing and society's corruption. It's none too original, but it keeps the songs moving.
Bluthuf start off strong on "Programm23," but they rapidly lose steam. The songs are looooooooong and suffer from a lack of variety. Tempo changes could have kept things fresh as they plod along one-dimensionally. The close of "Programm23" comes to shaking things up is a cool stutter step beat before an all too brief guitar solo, but then the band is back banging away at the same old riff. If they weren't paired with somebody more interesting like AXT, perhaps Bluthuf would have come off better. As it stands, they caught the short end of the pairing.
[Full disclosure: 7 Degrees, which is helping distribute the record, sent me a review copy.]