Review: Pariso/Svalbard – Split

Pariso and Svalbard are two of the most prolific, hard-working and downright fucking fantastic offerings from the section of UK hardcore. They are acts that hold such oft-forgotten notions as integrity in high esteem. You won’t find either of these bands on package tours sponsored by energy drinks companies or sauntering round in high-quality music videos in Supreme caps and Hype t-shirts. This is D.I.Y hardcore at its most confrontational and artistically inclined, showcasing the best aspects of each band in all their ultra-heavy splendour. Teaming up for this unique split-album, the record consists of seven tracks composed individually by the respective bands plus two more which are collaborations between the musicians. Judging by the result of this experimental endeavour, it is a practice that produces some truly edifying results, each band upping their game considerably to produce some of the best work either has written thus far.

Pariso’s contribution is a succinct continuation of the stylistic approach sought on their sublime and punchy record Consanguinity, released last year. With crushing hardcore as its base, the songs are alive with metallic flourishes whilst the heaviness seems to have only increased, the Slipknot influences being more open than ever before. Once a band known for the brevity of their tracks, Pariso have evolved into exceptional craftsmen, able to hold town tight grooves and assemble true ‘songs’ rather than a simple repertoire of crudely conjoined riffs. A cleaner production style aids in the translation of a new-found dynamics, although it benefits the post-hardcore stylings of Svalbard to a much greater degree, accentuating the rift between the band’s quieter and more melodic motifs with their driving intensity. Elsewhere, riffs of particular barbaric intensity, such as the demonic trawl through a particularly doom-laden passage at the close of Pariso’s ‘Underground Notes’, impact with assured viciousness. As in Consanguinity, many of the riffs can easily be construed as ‘hooky’; those that form the central attack on ‘Helios, The Demise’ are particularly memorable examples.

Whilst Pariso bring the muscle in the form of pulverising riffs and imposing physicality, Svalbard’s disposition often seems more cerebral and melodically inclined. ‘Ripped Apart’ exudes skyward-bound post-rock guitars and delay-soaked lead lines that give way to a particularly violent chug. Similarly, ‘Greyscale’ rushes by in a storm of blastbeats, flirting with black metal tropes in frenetic flurries. Reaching a particularly epic apex, it comes across like a snippet of a Guides By Voices track given a screamo makeover. The high-octane mood is lowered exponentially for ‘Allure’, a song whose intro is a work of measured fragility, hushed guitars slowly gathering in pace and volatility until the track opens up into a restless hardcore gallop.

By far the highlights on the record however, are the collaborative tracks which combine the defining elements of each band into an impeccable stew of pure unbridled brutality that includes a particularly bone-headed three note breakdown alongside Svalbard’s favoured melodic guitar lines. ‘Faceless’ posits an instantly tangible thrash influence given the hardcore treatment, warped into a marauding brute of a track. Yet it is opener ‘Floating Anchors’ that really impacts with a composition that is both accomplished and irrevocably heavy, combining a dual vocal attack into a track that nears perfection.

As a showcase for the UK’s hardcore underground, the record posits Pariso and Svalbard as the leading lights within the D.I.Y scene. Immeasurably brutal, yet possessing a more cerebral inclination on the part of both bands, this is a hardcore record to remedy the growing prominence of base and one-dimensional beatdown music. What’s more, it is proof that heaviness and intelligent compositions are not mutually exclusive.

4.5 out of 5 high fives!

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