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July 25, 2024

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The Kutna Hora Split (Rhetoric Records)

By: Jeb Branin

I was in no way prepared for the magnitude of this CD. It is a nerve numbing exploration of how punishing music can be. HELLCHILD are Japan's maestros of heavy core and they unleash a merciless onslaught on their three tracks. Growling death metal vocals, guitars that spurt anvil heavy riffs, and rhythms that march you to hell are HELLCHILD's calling card. Although the individual elements that make up this din are commonplace, the way in which HELLCHILD have combined them is very unique. They are too fast to be just sludge, to slow and heavy to be just hardcore, and to groovin' to be just metal. Instead they are some hybrid that is greater than the sum of its parts. You are going to have to hear this for yourself to comprehend. I can't even begin to articulate this. KILARA are all over the map on their three tracks. The first track, "Love & Loathing," is patented KILARA with their distinctive mesh of noise, sludge, groove, metal, and hardcore. The second song is cryptically titled "S.M.R." and is an acoustic, down home, southern fried, country ballad validated by the environmentally aware lyrics. The third track is pure molasses core sludge that borrows a page from GRIEF's book on pain and punishment. Could this be KILARA's heaviest song ever? Quite possibly! The split is called "The Kutna Hora Split" because the visual images of the packaging are photos taken from the infamous monastery there that is literally a museum of human remains. The details of which are elaborated upon in the disc's booklet. The CD lists KILARA as the first band but the wrong CDR was sent to the pressing plant and the first three tracks are actually HELLCHILD. This band reversal is true only for the first 1000 copies (did someone say collector's item?). All in all one of the most impressive CDs of the year.
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