A horrible hack

Planks - Lentic Waters


Year Released: 2015
Format: 12" EP
Label: React With Protest - IFB Records - Apocaplexy
Reviewed by Alex Hannan on Jan 7, 2016
It's Mannheim versus Münster on this German split 12", which has been out a while - it dates from 2013. Only one contender has survived to the present day. LENTIC WATERS are still together, but PLANKS stopped playing live in 2014 and last month released their final LP. The two find common ground in post-hardcore but approach from different angles, LENTIC WATERS more screamo, PLANKS mixing in more metal. Austere, elegant black and white artwork dominates the design.

LENTIC WATERS take their name from a scientific term referring to stillwater habitats. They mix in atmospheric rumblings between songs, beginning their side with looming, ominous tones, sepulchral clangs, one shimmering bell-like resonance. First song 'Früh Übt Sich [Nicht]' is chuggy and frenetic to begin with, plenty of stormy chord sequences, leavened with little drop-outs of textured guitars. Vocals are screamy, mid-range. The songwriting feels unfocused in the first minutes but settles gradually into a pattern.

'Eingemauert' begins with a solitary guitar, interlocking into another guitar part and gathering elegantly into a spacious, rolling feel. The heavier they attempt to sound here, the less convincing it comes across - it blusters rather than peaking. When they dial it back a little in the middle, the spare delay-treated guitars are atmospheric and eerie, but the final full-band section feels cluttered and hurried. "Menschlichkeit" shows off LENTIC WATERS' more aggressive, epic leanings. The lyrics are absorbing - my limited German probably isn't getting everything, but they are socially engaged and poetic. Abstract but also humanising their downcast reflections on xenophobia and humanity with concrete details and pensive imagery.

PLANKS take their name from bits of wood, I guess. Their side is more poised, less knotty and fevered than LENTIC WATERS' half. Their opening number "It fell to the snakes" spends long periods in a mid-paced black metalish blast beat, cymbals splashing away alongside brow-furrowed machinations of chords and gloomy, throaty vocals. It's a powerful sound which is also quite hard work, the kind of refusal of concession to the listener that can be rewarding in a hypnotising way. Yet I still think the riffs are occasionally lacking - flashes like the harmonising twin guitars in the instrumental second song help to enliven a full-band sound that could be more imaginatively textured. Delivered live through decent amps I would probably be less likely to fuss about it. Final song "Leave and never come back" has some neat buildups and shimmery tremelo'd interludes.

I stumbled on a summary of the themes of PLANKS' most recent records which ran: "On The Darkest Of Grays, the protagonist went through a total downfall in life, causing the loss of all that defined him. Funeral Mouth portrayed this person in a state of pain-ridden awe, observing and questioning what has happened. Now Perished Bodies sees him at the final point of his journey. Being able to read other people by emphasizing his own defeat onto their process, he realizes that he is slowly fading into the ashes of what he used to be." Super frown-core, then, and these songs run along similar lines of desolation. "I feast upon the night in you / You steal away the light from me / Can't honestly tell you there is another way."

This is a well-executed and polished split throughout, which leans a little toward the predictable - yet the combination of styles mean that I think that a lot of folk would find something to like here.

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