As the winter nights draw in, odds are your listening habits might change accordingly. You might want to hide away with some fuzzy, beautiful bedroom electronica; or revel in nature’s harsh glory with something frost-bitten and atmospheric. Alternatively, you may need something to help give you that little extra push, to get you going at the start (or end) of the day. If that’s the case, then the split 7″ between Japan’s Asthenia and Akallabêth from the UK could be just what you’re looking for. Both bands conjure up memories of 90’s emo and post-hardcore, not just in sound but also in terms of energy and drive. If the cold, dark days and nights have you feeling down, then this might just help pick you up.
Asthenia take the first side of the split, with their two songs bursting with energy. Their melodic, emotionally heavy sound recalls numerous different 90’s acts – early Moss Icon most notably, especially in the guitar playing – as well as possessing that passion and sincerity that is characteristic of all the best Japanese punk of all varieties. There’s more to their sound than just emulating the giants of the genre though, and at times they bring to mind Japanese emo bands from just after the turn of the millennium, such as Gauge Means Nothing (especially in the use of dual vocals at key points) and Boiler Frog, albeit with more melody. Backed up by a strong production and some smart song-writing, their side is an absolute winner, and I look forward to hearing much more from this band.
Akallabêth have the unenviable proposition of following these two excellent songs, but they still come across well. Their sound is much more influenced by the old Ebullition bands, and if it doesn’t have quite the same punch as Asthenia do, there is still plenty of energy and passion to their sound. Theirs is a more expansive style, more measured and less desperate than Asthenia, and the two bands contrast well with one another, highlighting not only their differences but also emphasizing their strengths.
Of the two, I can’t deny that I favour Asthenia’s side, but then I always was one to favour the fastier, noisier side of emo and post-hardcore. Both bands are great though, and this split has been acting as a wonderfully little energy rush after long days at work when I come home to the cold and dark.