Bachir Gemayel/Breaking the Will Split (C20, Phage Tapes)

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Two harsh walls of noise based on politically-themed violence dominate this split C20 from Bachir Gemayel and Breaking the Will. The tape features on the cover a limbless body strung up to a shaft being paraded by a crowd; the inside of the card fold-out is just as disturbing, with various scenes of torture and mob justice along with a gigantic burning pyre of bodies. It’s obvious what the themes of the split are, and the titles correspond nicely with the pictures.

Bachir Gemayel’s “Interrogation Method” starts out with a soft, pounding rumble and then escalates in volume, taking on a rhythmic bassy march of a static wall while incorporating some higher siren-like squalls at random intervals. At all points there is the semblance of track progression, as the rumbles begin to increase in volume and the squalls twist and turn into all out squeals of feedback. The rumbles ebb and flow, sometimes fading back in the mix for intermittent judders of crisp electronic crunch. At some points, “Interrogation Method” remains laid-back, carrying on in its rumbling wall of sound, and then at others, it erupts into a distorted cacophany that nicely breaks up the wall. “Interrogation Method” at times falls into the HNW formula, where the crumbling bass continues its rhythmic beatdown, but there’s also a good amount of variety here that would fit the track somewhere in between what’s considered harsh noise and harsh noise wall; there’s both aspects here, and I don’t think it would turn a listener of either of those genres off. The rhythmic stuttering is great and is maintained throughout – a midpaced beat that carries the listener through the 10 minutes effectively.

The Breaking the Will side, “Execution,” is more of a steady harsh noise wall, starting out with static rumbles early on which quickly amp up in volume and intensity with a harsher windy squall on top of the bass. I like the movement right from the start, a quick set-up of a wall which then explodes into an even harsher track of ripping static. There aren’t many transitions on this side like Bachir Gemayel’s; instead, Breaking the Will maintains a mountainous rumble of sound throughout that has a surprisingly varied texture. About the halfway point, the pitch of “Execution” increases with a higher-sounding moment of static that jitters and shutters, marking a change in the wall that is accompanied by occasional cut-outs of static and metallic scrapes of electronics.

Both sides of this split are excellent examples of harsh noise done right; Bachir Gemayel provides a varied but controlled track of noise that blends walls and shifts while Breaking the Will sticks with a more rigid composition but leaves room for some subtle textural changes that compliment the static wall well.

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