Review: Adonis Battlefield/D’Amore “Split” LP

Adonis Battlefield takes side A here with seven quick tracks of grinding metalcore/screamo type stuff with a mix of discordant old school hardcore chord progressions, jarring metalcore riffs, sinister midpaced breaks, and the occasionally out of place Iron Maiden styled run, alongside a multi vocal attack of various levels of screaming/shouting. At its best, the writing is pretty damn powerful and energetic, offering a solid balance of tempo changes and fluid transitions in short bursts, while at its worst things can become a little too chaotic and acerbic to really do much for me. Thankfully their strengths tend to overcome in the end, though there are definitely moments that border on starting to irritate me. "Omnivore Holocaust Part I & II" opens with a slower and darker edge that definitely shows some promise, and as one of the longer tracks it's cool that they actually maintain a cohesive sense of flow throughout the sludgy power chords and chunky picking patterns that back all of the frantic screaming/shouting later in the track, and that's the kind of thing I wish they'd center on more often. Their recording is on the raw side but it actually works out fine since the mix is fairly balanced and the dirtiness makes sense with their approach. I wouldn't mind hearing a little more definition in the basslines, but that's a minor issue, for the most part they're doing alright. As their musical approach and general D.I.Y. attitude might suggest, the lyrics are dealing with lots of socio-political and scene issues such as attacks on religion, sellouts, and a few tracks dealing with animal rights and that kind of thing. I'm fine with all of that, and actually agree with a lot of the band's stances, but when you're gonna throw around a song explanation like, "Vegetarianism is only one small step of progress, and not nearly enough," well... I can't really stand behind that kind of overly idealistic and almost arrogant thinking (and I am a vegetarian). Anyway, D'Amore takes side B with six tracks that are more literally screamo oriented in terms of blending softer clean passages with totally frantic and acerbic guitar textures that can often get quite thick and aggressive, while almost yelped screaming takes the lead vocal role. Admittedly some of the atmospheres that they hit on are pretty damn strong (notably some really moving clean breaks, especially those drawn out runs at the end of "Boyz II Men Song"), but for the most part their approach to songwriting is way too disjointed for me to handled, and it becomes pretty hard to tell when one song ends and another begins. "American Gladiators" is by far the best track in terms of utilizing more vocal variety and using a more open form of melody amidst the biting picking patterns and noisy buildups, not to mention simply containing killer riffs, so I'd actually really dig this band were all of the songs this well executed. The sound is pretty rough, but again it does basically fit what the band is doing. The drummer's fuckin' great and has a decent amount of room to cut loose with tight fills and flare that really holds shit together well, while the basslines are thickening things up without being too prominent, and the caustic guitars are dense enough to remain controlled in most areas. They've also mixed the vocals pretty far off in the distance, which is definitely a good thing, because I'm certain that the vocals would drive me nuts if they were too loud. Once more the lyrical content tends to be of the socio-political variety, though there's more personal interjection here as well: "My perception is that it is next stare at your watch stare at the clock we live or die either way make it last your time is running out our time is running out..." The LP comes in an excellent looking color sleeve with a gloss coating and some rad cover art that sort of looks like Pushead gone charcoal or something, but whatever the case, the illustration is awesome and I really dig that there's no text on the cover at all. The insert is xeroxed on blue paper and has more of a typically collaged D.I.Y. look that's not nearly as intriguing as the cover, but what can you do? Lyrics and occasional insights are included along with collages of photos for each band. This is a peculiar split to review in that I sort of like both bands, but neither can quite do the trick for me. I'd say that Adonis Battlefield probably wins out with the most effective half of the LP, but then again, portions of D'Amore's material really get my hopes up, and I doubt it would take much for those kids to really impress me. Each act has their strengths and weaknesses of course, and despite Adonis Battlefield doing the most damage herein, I think I'd be more curious to see where D'Amore heads in the future.

[Delian League]
Running time - 35:00 (approximately), Tracks: 13
[Notable tracks: Earth, Omnivore Holocaust Part I & II, American Gladiators, Boyz II Men Song]
Delian League Records -