Both Graves at Sea
are reasonably well known names in the doom genre, but despite being a fan of both bands I would not claim either of them as any sort of ‘unstoppable force’ when it comes to dooming and crushing. However, this split release is not only the pinnacle of both bands’ discographies, but it’s also one of the best doom releases of the past decade. The two track contribution by Graves at Sea is miles ahead of the material on their mildly enjoyable Documents of Grief
, and while Asunder’s first LP Clarion Call
is one of the better American funeral doom records, ‘Whited Sepulcher’, for want of a better expression, shi
ts all over it, as well as shi
tting all over their later released and somewhat drab Works Will Come Undone
The split is thrown open with Graves at Sea’s ‘Pariah’, and though the tempo is lowered over the course of this song and the next, the sludge-y intensity the band displays is not diminished in any way. The opening track has some of the best riffs penned by the band, and is one of the best sludge songs I’ve heard. The screechy vocals combined with the lumbering and maliciously toned composition is an inarguable recipe for success – while ‘Pariah’ blows apart the split, the second track ‘Reclamation’ merely continues from where the preceding song finishes, bringing the crush with no sign of relief.
At least in terms of the US scene, Asunder can certainly be considered a ‘major player’. Their adaption of melody to the mournful aura of funeral doom is very recognisable, with their intertwining guitar lines reminiscent of fellow Americans Loss
, or even Germany’s Worship
. Nevertheless, ‘Whited Sepulcher’, while following a different strand of doom than the Graves at Sea tracks, manages to capture that superlative essence that defines the split. At almost twenty minutes, the song treads several compositional paths – all of them are invaluable to the song, and the band undeniably balances their pangs of despondency with the song’s malevolent death/doom inclination.
It’s only three tracks, but the fact that these three songs are some of the best you will hear in the genre makes this split essential for any fan of doom. Both Graves at Sea and Asunder complement each other in every conceivable way, and, as mentioned before, the material here is arguably the best that you will hear from either band. If that isn’t enough to convince you, then hopefully the awesome artwork will do the trick.