Review: A??o Direta/Shikari “Split” 7”

First up here are two tracks from longstanding Brazilian hardcore/punk band A??o Direta, who basically stick with a pretty tried and true D-beat approach that centers around midpaced power chords and shouted vocals with very slight hints at chunky metal riffing on rare occasion. "Liberdade Vigiada" offers more drastic tempo changes and definitely has a heavier sort of style to the riffs, and I actually like that angle much more than the almost overly standard delivery of "Conspira??o". The sound quality is pretty crisp, but I think they ought to turn up the bass and give the guitars a warmer tone to really make this material pop. There's a strangely distant sheen over both the vocals and the guitars, which makes the drumming somewhat overly prominent, but I can live with it. Both tracks are sung in Portuguese but the English translations indicate a pretty pessimistic worldview for both tracks. Shikari (The Netherlands) then shocks the ears on side B with an insanely caustic attack of dissonant tremolo picking and surging discordant rhythms alongside higher-pitched vocal screams in two songs that both almost teeter on some black metal influences musically. The only thing holding this band back from absolutely kicking ass here is the fact that the production is way too thin for what they're doing. They need more definition to their tones, a thicker and more spacious mix, etc. The songs are definitely powerful and this is incredibly promising stuff, but it would be amazing were the recording as beneficial as it should be. Both songs are delivered in Dutch but the English translations indicate socio-political messages that are left open enough to give the listener some room, and that's a great touch. The matte black and white sleeve actually looks a little dull since the text is plain and Shikari's artwork honestly sucks since it bears no resemblance to the ferocity of their music whatsoever, but other than that these Dutch lunatics are definitely stealing the show on this split. I'd love to hear more from 'em!

[Underground Punk Support]
Running time - 8:00 (approximately), Tracks: 4
[Notable tracks: Liberdade Vigiada, Laatste Halte]
Underground Punk Support -