Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cassette Review: ST. SHEB / HOLLOWHECATOMB split

[$5 // Edition of 57 // https://stsheb.bandcamp.com/album/st-sheb-hollowhecatomb]

Right away I noticed that the tracklisting for this split cassette simply says "Side: ST. SHEB" and "Side: HOLLOWHECATOMB" which I thought was pretty neat because it didn't put one at "A" and the other at "B".    And when you have a split, why should you really?   It tends to be easier for cassettes that are by one artist but even then I question the "A/B" at times.   So really this is saying don't worry about choosing sides and just enjoy the music.

I listened to the HOLLOWHECATOMB first because it was rewound to that side, though in another world that doesn't make it "Side A" because I've received cassettes rewound to "Side B" which is frustrating.    In any case, the name HOLLOWHECATOMB always makes me think I'm forgetting a letter and spelling it wrong because I want it to be HOLLOW THE TOMB or somethng like that, but HOLLOW and HECATOMB are both words, which when put together should help you know what you're in store for here because a hecatomb is either an ancient sacrifice or an extensive loss of life for some cause.   Now if you break down the name one step further, and see it as being the second definition, when you add the word hollow in front of it you get the sense that someone is giving up their life without real reasons.

This begins with a crackling of harsh noise and some heavy breathing.  There is pained moaning and I'm beginning to feel like I'm in a horror movie.   The first HOLLOWHECATOMB song is called "Jacob Marley" which makes me think that it would make for a great holiday song (Expect it on my next Christmas mixtape!) but also I just feel as if it takes that idea Charles Dickens once had to a new level and I imagine something closer to Leatherface chainsawing it up.     As a buzzing sort of hum comes into play, there are songs also of drums, cymbals and guitars.    Through these songs vocals are screamed and I'm thinking it's some kind of -core, if you're into labels of that sort, and at the very least it's metal.    Somewhere between a band like Ed Gein and a similar yet different band such as A Perfect Murder is where some of the more traditional songs end up.

On the other hand there is a few times when words are spoken over that buzzing.   I'm not sure what's going on in the background in the sense of calling it a bugzapper or something specific, but it is some sort of buzzing/humming.   At one point, towards the end mind you, the way that the words are spoken sound strained and all I can think of is "G.I. Joe: The Movie" and how Cobra Commander begins turning into a snake and repeats "I was once a man".    That was actually some sort of pivotal and highly influential point in my life so it is rather remarkable to have it brought up here.

On the other side we have ST. SHEB and the best thing that brings up through a google search is St. Nicholas Hospital, which is in Sheboygan and as per the Bandcamp page I found this on both of these artists are from Wisconsin.   It is simply too much of a coincidence to pass up so we'll just run with it.

ST. SHEB starts off somewhat quiet yet has this boiler room sound still with Transformers in it somehow.   Listening to ST. SHEB makes me wonder whether I should have listened to their side first but I guess it's a matter of whether you prefer to hear the heavier piece then the calm down or build to the heaviness and explode.    There are some metal guitar riffs in here though, complete with pounding of the drums and crashing cymbals.    It has that Mahler Haze vibe to it and remains instrumental yet slow in tempo as well, perhaps even sludge.

As the ST. SHEB side progresses though it gets quieter again and has only really faint whispers of wind blowing.    It's minimal static waves and then church gongs come out within them.    These bells come and go after the initial metal sound and I can only say that sometimes they sound like church other times not so much but they are just magnificent.

ST. SHEB closes out their side with a bit of loud static, as it grows and intensifies right up until the very end and so it leaves you on a louder note than what you'd heard for a little while on their songs.      Regardless of what side you play first, ST. SHEB at least has the idea that they will not go out with a whimper but with a bang.

One of my biggest fears about cassettes is that some day someone is going to send me a split with the sides labeled incorrectly on purpose so my thoughts on one artist are really for the other.   St. SHEB and HOLLOWHECATOMB are breaking down walls of the "A" and "B" sides here and that isn't where they stop.   These two pieces are worthy of a cassette for each but to have them together makes this so much more worthwhile.

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