So, another split…what can I say? bands are really into doing splits right now. It makes sense though, if you think about it. Two(three or four in some cases) bands can cover their production costs better than one and a lot of times these things come about as a joint effort between multiple labels. It broadens their market appeal, especially when the fan base of the two bands is not identical plus, it is easier to sell these records when more than one band is carrying it with them on tour. These things just make sense in these economically tough times. That being said, there is always something off about reviewing a split. For a critic the two bands can almost be competing on the same record or the shift in tone between bands can throw off the feel of the record as a whole. From a critical perspective, I like to look at a release as one cohesive product and not as just a collection of songs or a show case type compilation. I try to look for the strains that run through a record and tie all the parts together. More and more often, even on full length releases from individual bands, records take on a less cohesive feeling. Maybe that is a result of a sort of “now this!” culture that constantly shifts. For modern listeners it is not that weird to jump from one genre to the next, hip-hop to heavy metal to punk, what ever comes up on “shuffle.” So the most exciting part of this record is that the overall feeling of the split is not lost when you flip sides(or transition from the first band to the next if you are listening digitally.)
Caravels sets the stage very well with a cinematic intro, a brief bit of solo guitar—dripping with effects—and a slight shift of tectonic plates as the four piece comes together in a nicely balanced mix of that brand of post-rock meets screamo we are all so familiar with. To me, Caravels have really grown up. On prior releases I was entertained but not quite blown away, similarities to Beau Navire or Pianos Become the Teeth verged to close to straight photocopy. However, in the same way Barrow surprised me with their twists, turns, peaks, and precipices Caravels have nice and neatly managed to craft three songs in their own cranny of the current screamo wave. The song titles are all based on clever word play, in that 00’s mainstream Post-Hardcore style—serious and emotional music with joke titles—strangely synthesizing “false screamo” influence into “true screamo” roots. Like it or not, the styles have nearly become hybridized but discerning ears should overcome prejudice with bands like Caravels contending for the screamo championship belt.
Gifts of Enola are almost something else entirely but in the same way as the glistening, young pups Caravels did on side A, these relative new comers thread the needle with the whole cosmos in tow. Enola delivers two “Fat Man” type bombs of Post-Hardcore deconstruction. Salty rock hooks connect with satisfying thumps and rivulets of echoing, phasing, and spacey effects ripple out. “Angel Face” offers a glimpse of influence with a bridge that clearly invokes Cult of Luna vibes, with monumental crunches and lilting background noises. Yet “Water Torture” takes on a different but similar character as it explores all kinds of jazzy permutations. The buried vocals, the proggy space rock elements coupled with the gutsy punch garner mild comparisons to Hawkwind if Lemmy and co. had been influenced by music that came decades later like post-As Cities Burn project Hawkboy.