Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cower / Thou - War is the Force That Gives Us Meaning: A Two Part Analysis of Personal and Inter-Personal Conflict (2011)

Split, Vendetta Records
June 21st, 2011


Genre: Sludge/Hardcore/Doom Metal
Region: USA

I wish I was more attentive to Cower's side of this brilliant split record with Thou when I first heard it. I mean Thou's side is just more unquestionably awe-inspiring and malice-soaked doom metal so it's hard to tear one's attention away from their side of any split; even when paired with the likes of Hell and in this case Cower.

Between the two bands and their strong, proven approaches to the niches of sludgey hardcore and callous doom it goes without saying this split has excellent variety. This is not at the expense of spellbinding song weaving whether it be furious beauty or an unbearable darkness as Cower and Thou only cull their best for each release.

When matched with Thou one might assume the younger Cower may not be up to the task of balancing the monolithic tendencies of the Baton Rogue sludge beasts, but they easily hold their own. Their use of a varied of vocal styles, the strong bass foundation throughout each track, and the creative blend of genres ensures they can stand next to such towering doom pillars like Thou.

In fact I've grown to enjoy their contribution just a bit more than the second side.

Cower's side is titled "Act I: Burn The Banks" and starts with the track named after themselves, and the subject of giving up. It's heavy and between sludge and stoner rock at first, the speed is increased briefly to bring in the hardcore but after a silence the sludgy vibe returns as we barrel into "Clonorchis Sinensis. Rhythmic hardcore takes hold for a moment before the slow jog heaviness returns, it's compouded at various points through hoarse shouts and  splashing cymbals over a wicked breakdown.

"Cut Down" is only 27 seconds but not necessarily in the powerviolence mindset despite being fast — it's contrasted by the acoustic interlude direcly afterward which is melancholic and somber. It brings other elements into the collection sounds like a piano and digital modulation near the end. Later on "Vise Grip" takes a similar approach There's a concerted effort to return to devestaing sludgcore with "Sixty Years", a track that trudges at first but hits the boosters at the one minute mark and scorches shit with noisy, drum blasts and scraping riffs. The return to slugging with trilled bends and stomping riffs. Lots of big grooves in that last moment alone

This leads to "Torch" which is my second favorite on the split. It starts similar to "Sixty Years" blending stoner riffs and hardcore pacing but by the time we're into the middle of the track, delay and reverb effects engulf the sparkling tremolo riff left hanging. It becomes manipulated for about a minute creating very pretty textures befire

My favorite track by far is "Rainmaker", it sounds closest to their material on Mind Over Matter:  bouncy and terribly catchy, considerably moreso once the great bass solo hits (these guys can punch those things through at just the right moment it seems). Bursting from that to a upbeat climb and descent through multiple noise rock attitudes, they eventually setltle on something amazing. It's probably the most memorable moment on the record, simple too, coupled with the lyrics there's a longing for release pervading this song and it's heartfelt:

"So come my friends and let us share our last breath. Let me live under the sun and remember. It's only for fun. Just remember... The tides will go in. And the tides will go out, and the leaves will grow again. Every beginning has to end, and every ending brings new beginnings, don't forget to scream and shout. There is no end."

It ends on a slightly depressive series of fuzzed out notes, and bleeds into a bonus track I don't know much about; I suspect it's a cover. Cower have done well on this split and it was a great prelude to the full length last year.


Moving on to Thou's side titled "Act II: Big City" which was released as a single EP online and kicks in with a even more sluggish interpretation of a Cower song from their first record (Hatred Songs) — it's fuckin ugly. Nothing but feedback, vocals and singular tom strikes for the majority of the track.

Then we get to dig into newer material with "View of a Burning City", a clouded lament to the state and industry's siege on humanity (in classic Thou fashion) starting darkly melodic and discordant much like their Hell split — and then straight into what I recognize as the down-tuned beat in Eminem's "Guilty Conscience"... it's bizarre. The song progresses away from this into more recognizably torturous swaying through low guitars and black vocals and I immediately feel quite cozy here. No one does this better than Thou or at all like them.

"How Lonely the City Sits" continues the vitriolic assault found before it calling out bred mediocrity, urban stagnation and the alienation it brings. This one has a fucking gripping groove midway through that flows so smoothly as Brian shouts "THE DEAFENING, ENDLESS, COMPLETE ISOLATION!!!". Thou show again and again why they sit on the throne of doom. The last section of the track brings scratchy dissonance back briefly as it slowly fades in feedback.

Closing with "Milestone" the desperate struggle continues unabated. Sliding warbled downtuned slaughter for the first while, with a great use of pinched harmonics interspersed in the marching. It gets a little more claustrophobic for a few seconds for the change in pace, where Brian's vocals become increasingly haggard and deformed in his bleak recitations. Near the end the vocals turn to clean slow chants while a buried lead riff distorts and drowns, however it reverts to more slogging before the abrupt close.

An awesome split with two dedicated acts I love a lot. This is worth the cash if you can find a copy of the LP, even if you're just in it for Thou. The art is fantastic and high quality outside of the crumbling doom and sludge imprinted on the black record. I don't know of any big labels or distros who still have copies (some smaller ones like this maybe) but they might have a few while touring still (I got mine at the Gilead Media Festival)

You can grab Cower's side for free on their band camp and Thou make all of their material available on their official site.

DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)
DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)
DOWNLOAD (Bandcamp)  <— Cower side only!
DOWNLOAD (Noladiy direct) <— Thou side only!

2 comments:

  1. the cover song cower preforms is "tourette's" by nirvana

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