Back in April, the always reliable Gilead Media teamed with Pesanta Urfolk to release a limited (1000 copies) split 7' featuring the bands Hell and Thou entitled Resurrection Bay. How something like this escaped my notice until recently is a great mystery. Mystery solved.
Salem, Oregon's Hell contribute their track, "Sheol" on one side. I am shamefully ignorant of Hell's previous full lengths. So this split serves as my introduction to this Northwest duo. Should the uncompromising doom of "Sheol" be representative of their work, I need to dig into their back catalogue post-haste. One can practically smell the cobwebs festooned on the stalactites hanging overhead in the cavern in which the black metal shrieks of vocalist/multi-intsrumentalist M.S.W. must have been recorded. (Drums are handled by Adam Torrvella) If the lurching pace of the track is any indication, the floors of said cavern must be knee deep in rotting detritus. The filth sucking at the feet of the listener in their futile attempt to escape the darkness. Haunting noisescapes are injected to feed this misanthropic nightmare. Yet for a few tantalizing moments, a feeling of openness presents itself. Whether you view this as (misguided) hope or calm acceptance, the result is the same. No one breaks free from this Hell.
The ridiculously prolific Thou graces the other side of this white vinyl with the deceptively titled "Ordinary People". Ordinary people don't make this kind of music and ordinary people don't listen to this kind of music. Ordinary people don't know what they are missing. While still rooted in the same oppressively heavy doom as Hell, the overall feel of "Ordinary People" compared to "Sheol" is almost in opposition. "Sheol" felt very "under the ground" whereas "Ordinary People" feels more "above the ground". While Hell resides within the mountain, Thou strides across the range itself. The guitar tone is still bone-crushing but there is an airiness present as well. Almost a feeling of height. As if the riffs themselves tower over the feeble and weak, projecting authority. Within its six and a half minutes, the track contains a number of "movements". The cadence shifts from a foot-dragging crawl to periods of half-gallop and purposeful march. Whatever the pace, the riffs remain muscular and full-bodied. Not to be outdone, vocalist Bryan Funck is equally as scathing in his delivery yet matches the difference in vibe given off by both bands.
More or less cut from the same cloth, the samples of Thou and Hell on each side of the 7" present as different shades in the same colour palette. Perfectly complimentary with a subtle contrast to define the edges between the two.
At this time, Gilead Media is sold out but it appears copies are still available from Pesanta Urfolk here. And they're only $8.50. (While you're there, check out the Ash Borer t-shirts. That logo is just as stellar as the music it represents.)