Stormcrow get the A side and dedicate it to one lengthy track, the near-epic (and near post-rock) "Path to Defeat." If ever a band's ideology were spelled out in a song title, it's here. Stormcrow have always been obsessed with the obvious and ever-present decline of culture and society and here they slap you across the face with it in a track that's an elegy, eulogy and vitriolic condemnation all at once. It starts out in typical SC fashion, with boiling, tar-thick guitar tones and quasi-thrash metal pacing but soon enough evolves into a quiet, mournful space of clean guitar lines and thick, cradling washes of bass. The last 6 or 7 minutes of this track are completely devoid of vocals, instead letting the rising tension of the music hammer the point across. The track never builds back up into anything, instead languishing in a purgatorical demonstration of mushrooming, voluminous power chording and endless cymbal bashing until the whole thing just melts away. It's easily one of Stormcrow's most successful tracks and makes me hunger even more for a proper full length record from them. They're probably the only band in operation that has taken the template established by His Hero Is Gone and reworked it into something considerably more majestic without sacrificing any of the necessary anger.
Coffins take the B side and utterly own it, serving up two more tracks of the bile-infused necro-rocking that they've made their own. There's nothing surprising here, but Coffins have never been a band that's looking to evolve or challenge anyone-they're simple here to play death metal and bring you to your fucking knees and the two tracks here accomplish those ends with much success. The guitars are huge as ever, brooding piles of fuzzed out guitar rot and plodding, gushing bass, while the vocals inhabit lower registers that few people are able to hit without the aid of electronic and pitch-shifting effects. I dig Coffins because they simply capture the feel of a more classic time in death metal's past and they do it without a trace of irony-there is nothing here but worship and truth, like they know how really fucking good all those Konkhra, Dominus and Illdisposed records really were. There's also the reverence for Entombed particularly, making Coffins one of the only bands to really know just where the Left Hand Path led. The second song features a pretty exellent guitar solo too, all whammy bar theatrics ala Slayer or Obituary in their prime. It's a headbanging side from Coffins, further cementing their reputation as one of the best modern, "TRVE" death metal bands.
Add to these strengths the absolutely cool as fuck and ultra-gorgeous Mythos inspired jacket illustration and you've got a seriously devastating split of insanely heavy crust metal. Another great release for 20 Buck Spin.