UK chaosmongers Krupskaya kick off this succinct (a little under 20 minutes) split with what I believe is their first new material since 2011 or so. "In Silent Water There is No Light" opens with some slower-paced crawling, discordant riffs and samples regarding the threat of a thermal explosion for about half the track; before finally exploding into the almost ridiculously over-the-top anarchy and assorted vocal cackling for which the group is perhaps most known. "Storm Troopers for Christ" wastes no time, however, in unleashing an absolutely relentless sheen of the highest-speed grinding insanity and dental drill vocal shrieks, barks, and grunts—offering but one brief respite of ringing chords before the piece comes to an end; whereas "Order of the New Templars" peppers in a few more midpaced dissonant passages and chunky percussive patterns amidst its momentum. The longest track at nearly four minutes, "The Psychological Annihilation of Us All" layers in a somber arpeggio on occasion, and balances out the surging blast beats and tremolo picking with a curious fusion of layered samples and slower, gnashing chord phrasings akin to "In Silent Water..."
The production's fine. It can't be easy to capture this type of sheer lunacy, and it's heavy and crisp enough to get a feel for some of the details of what's really going on under the surface. If I had any suggestions, they would be that I'm not really hearing much in terms of bass lines; and some of the quick stops are a little too sharp, which can be jarringly unnatural as a result. Not a big deal in the grand scheme, by any means, though. I suppose it can sound almost comical at times, but simply playing this damn fast is a feat in itself—actually writing songs and performing this madness together as a unit is pretty wild. The drummer's gotta be a fuckin' maniac! (I'll also mention that I've heard some of Krupskaya's new, yet-to-be-released tracks, and they're even better!)
Despite them having been around for over a decade, this marks my first exposure to Ukraine's Foible Instinct, who put forth five short tracks of very strong, crust-oriented hardcore/punk delivered through a light sheen of grinding powerviolence. They've got that perfect style of pounding, hard-hitting midpaced oomph and forcefully grunted vocals backed by higher-pitched screams for good measure. A few cuts such as "On the Other Side" pick up the pace a touch, but nothing comes even remotely close to Krupskaya's tempos. In fact, it was probably a wise move to close with Foible Instinct; as their relatively straightforward and consistent attack feels rather refreshing and (dare I say) fun after the 10-minute, face-melting blitz of Krupskaya. They're certainly not rewriting any books on this style, but they do it quite well, and while crust-leaning sounds have fallen off my radar in recent years, I find this material to be quite enjoyable. Great recording, too—excellently gritty distortion and the slightest touch of muddiness to the mix, but that density feels warm and natural, so everything makes sense. Good stuff.
The 12" sleeve is nicely designed in a grimy aesthetic consistent with most of Krupskaya's outings, though to my surprise the insert doesn't contain lyrics—just credits alongside a collage of band photos treated with the same dirtied-up textures as the cover art. In any case, the vinyl is limited to just 300 copies, so fans of the tangible medium would be better-suited to make a move sooner than later...