Cara Neir/Ramlord Split CS

cara neir ramlord split cover

This beauty is the brand new split tape between two groups who are both quickly gathering attention in the extreme music underground. Cara Neir are a two-piece group from Dallas, TX, whose blend of blackened crust/dark hardcore blindsided me earlier this year when I first heard their stellar album, Stagnant Perceptions. As a fan of bands varying from pg.99 and Converge to the mass of black metal groups I rant about on this blog, their sound was very much my alley. When I heard they were putting out a split with the equally impressive Ramlord, I knew I would have to hear this. I was first introduced to Ramlord via their split album with Condensed Flesh, which was also a mammoth of an album. With both of these fresh groups on one beautifully packaged cassette, this is definitely an album representing how strong and productive the current black crust underground really is.

Cara Neir’s side of the split contains three tracks. Opener “Family Dirge” starts things off with equal parts aggression and melody. It’s obvious from the beginning that these guys are into Ulver, because some of the melodies on here sound like straight up Nattens Madrigal worship, and that’s far from a bad thing. Despite being under three minutes long, the first track has about as much variation and shifting of moods as most bands can fit into an eight-minute long epic. “Cradled by Apathy,” probably my favorite track from their side of the split, embraces more of the punk and hardcore influences that help separate Cara Neir from the current batch of younger black metal acts. The vocals are demonic and abrasive as all hell and the song stops and starts in all the right places to create tension, anticipation, and a moderate sense of uncertainty for the listener. I love when a song is listenable and unpredictable at the same time, and this definitely fits the bill. Passages of clean guitar are paired with howls of torment and the heaviest sections of the song still have underlying harmonies to ease the weight of the song. The section beginning around three and a half minutes in is absolutely crushing. I can only imagine how great this song must sound in a live setting, if they’ve got adequate gear to put on such a show. Cara Neir’s final track, “Wilted Blue,” starts off with some of the best sounding programmed drums I’ve ever heard and gorgeous twin-guitars, allowing for a brief moment of piece  in the midst of this album. The production is stellar, especially since I’m pretty sure these guys recorded it all on their own. If these three tracks are a sign of things to come from Cara Neir, then I’m just going to assume it’s worth owning. If Stagnant Perceptions hadn’t already sold me on this group, then this cassette would definitely have converted me.

cara neir ramlord split insert

Ramlord’s sole contribution to this split is the ten minute long crusher, “Affliction of Clairvoyance (Part One).” Static and distortion build within an instant and lead into abrasive guitars and sludgy drumming. Whereas Cara Neir’s wall of noise is thoroughly produced and shimmering in its heaviness, this is filthy yet not underproduced.  After nearly two minutes of jamming on the introductory segment, Ramlord pick up the pace into an aggressive gallop. Throaty vocals and chaotic riffs are plentiful here. The music is dripping with sweat and intensity. There’s pretty much everything I’d expect from an excellent grind, crust, or black metal band at some point in this song. High-pitched shrieks, blasting intensity, collective shouts that I wouldn’t quite call gang vocals, sludge-tastic grooves…it’s all here. While I don’t often find that such a long length is warranted for songs of this nature, Ramlord does it quite well here. When things slow down a bit about five minutes in, the true fury of the music shows. The mellower the music sounds, the harder it feels like the band is playing. Also, the last two minutes are some of the most intense music I’ve heard from a newer band. This whole song is absolutely crushing. I know I’ve used the word “crush” at least once before, but that’s the best word I can think of for a group like Ramlord.

If my review hasn’t already sold you on this tape, listen for yourself  at the label’s bandcamp and you’ll understand my enthusiasm. These tapes are going for a measly five bucks and you’d be wise to pick up a copy while you’re able. I have a feeling this one isn’t going to be in stock for very long. As always, please share your thoughts and please support these excellent bands in any way you’re able. Cheers!

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