Coilguns / NVRVD Split EP Review

Coilguns perfectly represent the dichotomy at the heart of extreme music – the pairing of often beautiful, stunning artwork with some of the ugliest, most brutal noise ever committed to record. This split release (featuring the aforementioned Coilguns and NVRVD) takes an artist’s commitment to packaging and presentation to whole new levels matched only, perhaps, by Swans, The Ocean and Neurosis. A handmade CD package, it comes housed in a black envelope, sealed with blood red wax and containing a silk-screened card that offers a stunning picture on the front and full details on the back. It is a collector’s gem and a contract that shows just how far the band will go out of the way to reward their faithful followers not only in terms of presentation, but also in content. This latter is represented in the fact that this special split EP features not only new studio recordings from the bands, but also a pair of live tracks from each, which go even further to capturing the raw, sweaty intensity of the music the band’s produce.

Coilguns, as we have noted before, are essential listening for the post-hardcore set still in mourning for the loss of Botch and Refused. Here the band have outdone themselves sin a way that is hardly conceivable. Opening track ‘Mandarin Hornet’ is a stunning, seven-minute long exercise in corrosive, draining, physically painful extremity that is as unpleasantly wonderful and as spuriously thrilling as an illicit encounter in the back bar of a rough pub; lust mingling with broken glass, blood and spilled beer. Like Converge at their most intense it is an experience that defies mere explanation and it needs to be undertaken first hand to be truly understood, the gale force guitar attack of Jona Nido underpinned by the percussive assault of Luc Hess and the mangled brutality of Louis Jucker’s vocals standing tall above it all, as if his furious delivery is penetrating the very heart of the storm due to his terrifying will power alone. ‘Dewar masks’ is the track’s polar opposite. Clocking in at 1:59 it dispenses its aggression with the force and sudden power of an unexpected bar brawl, the punches having been thrown and the blood splattered across the floor before the listener even gauges what’s been in the offing.

NVRVD offer no lengthy assault upon the senses, the band preferring to keep things pared down to the bone. Of their two tracks, the first track, ‘hungry for needs’ is a furious answer to Coilguns, the band tearing into the music with a hunger that boarders on the voracious. The combined vocals of Christian and Stefan Braunschmidt are only one part of the puzzle, the guitars a mixture of Sonic Youth art-rock mangling and Sepultura death-metal being another and the destructive percussive brutality of Lukas Heier being the third. Straddling genres it is clear that, like Coilguns, NVRVD are in the business of making the music they love and to hell with everybody else. The result is that genuinely adventurous fans are rewarded with EPs such as this which are produced with such blatant contempt for commerciality that their raw, naked passion shines out like a diamond in a pile of M&Ms. Second track ‘Direktore’ is equally intense, its three minutes so utterly draining they feel like ten and the sound a catastrophically heavy, viscous blend that threatens to suck the very light from the room in which you are listening.

The live tracks are, understandably, on the rough side, but still produced with enough finesse to make sure that the bands’ qualities shine through. Thus Coilguns sound slightly distorted but what really makes the jaw drop, apart from their sheer seismic force, is the devastating proficiency the band can employ – the jazzy time signatures and overwhelming guitar runs never less than furiously perfect even whilst the whole sounds as unhinged and degenerate as a crack-addled serial-killer working his way through a crowded bar with a chainsaw. Of the two live tracks on offer the first, ‘mastoid’ is almost unbelievably violent whilst the second, the five minute anger attack of ‘Parkensine’, offers a bruisingly complex attack that only adds to the sense that few bands handle dynamic shifts with the force and skill of Coilguns.

In exchange NVRVD offer up the unfeasibly brief ‘son of man’ which spits, curses and rages with a white-hot fury that burns itself out in moments, and the longer, crushing, ‘null and void’ which sounds like Cannibal Corpse playing Sex Pistols covers in a basement with members of Botch adding their own distinctive element of chaos to proceedings whenever they think no-one’s looking, only for the whole thing to shift into creepy psychedelic territory just as you think you’ve got its measure. It closes the EP on a memorable and satisfyingly violent note and it’s clear that the two bands could not be better suited to each other.

It’s hard to know what more to say about this amazing, beautiful, devastatingly heavy split EP apart from ‘buy the darn thing!’ Music rarely comes this passionate, this beautifully packaged, this… special; but Coilguns and NVRVD have turned in performances that could quite happily strip paint at a thousand paces so utterly intense and blisteringly focused are they. That Coilguns could deliver such a performance will be, perhaps, no surprise to anyone who has seen them live or checked out their previous (awesome) EP, but for NVRVD to match them every step of the way is certainly something of a surprise and for fans of innovative hardcore it does not get much better than this. A furiously perfect EP, this is utterly essential.

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