Solanum/ Epi-Demic
Passages to Lunacy Split

I think most metal/punk folks who have spent time kicking around the underground can agree that splits and compilations are a wholesome part of our musical diet.  My collection is full of them, and I have to say that many of them introduced me to multiple badass bands all in one fell swoop.  To support my thesis, I present to you Passages of Lunacy; a double-dipper of Canadian thrash/punk/hardcore/crossover chaos.  We get four tracks each from Solanum and Epi-demic that come on like a hurricane filled with broken glass, cinderblocks and stick it up your ass attitude.

Solanum is up first, a vicious quartet that juggles musical knives and hand-grenades in a display of sneering madness that’s a blast to watch go down.  Opener “Friendly Civil Servant” gets going with a sludgy riff groove that’s doom-y and downbeat while drummer Anders Land beats the living motherfuck out of his kit.  My senses are detecting a little bit of early COC, Bones Brigade, Municipal Waste, D.R.I., Discharge, Nuclear Assault and Deadhorse in this thrash/crust meltdown that makes Chernobyl seem like a nice time.  The shout-a-long vocals of Cam McFee are catchy as fuck, gang back-ups frequently guard his flank, the rhythms are crust or die and everything is pissed-off and goddamn memorable.  Nolan Smit’s bass is pleasantly audible and guitarist Leroy Shodine is a literal octopus of styles as he rips metallic solos, speedy d-beat damnation, sludgy molar busters and anything else he damn well pleases.

“Welcome to our Homemade Hell” bustles with shit-hammer drum fills that have more energy than an all-day Red Bull binge with frequent interruptions for cocaine.  The riffage is infectiously crusty punk in nature but rips into fast as fuck, palm-muted adrenaline rushes that are juiced on as much Slayer as they are Discharge.  Mid-tempo chugs are frequently given tremolo mule-kicks and everything has the utmost disregard for your health.  On “Manipulated” there’s a sick little bass solo that is as close to a calm before the storm as you’re going to get before they drop an A-bomb maelstrom of d-beat on your noggin so fast it’s hard not to classify as straight-up grindcore.  Closing Solanum’s side in a carpet-bombing of extinction thrash, “Lunatic Tradition’s” blistering slower grooves are off-set by reckless crust abandon and psychotic solos that’ll fill your pants with piss.

The B-side of this split is a hostile takeover from Epi-demic, a trio of radioactive skateboard thrashers who are muddier and dirtier than Solanum, but no less crustastically destructive.  “Time is Running Short (When you’re Dying on the Cross)” kicks off with a plucky, virile bass line from Kyle Hughes (a member of sludge sickos The Whorehouse Massacre) who instigates guitarist Adam to commit a violent onslaught of buzzsaw thrash riffs, frenetic grindcore riots and groove revolt.  Drummer Aaron careens his way through manic snare fills, unruly blasts and vaulting tempo variations that help keep the riffs constantly on the move.  The lo-fi charm of the recording gives this insanity a vibe that you’re right in the middle of the pit with a patented, DIY wall of death about to crush you from both sides.  A misshapen punk-y sludge groove that decides to wipe its ass on your face opens up “Famine,” though it’s not long before the descending, mudbath thrash grooves go from a crawl to unadulterated shit-hammer Armageddon.  I think everyone gets involved in the overload of shouting, screaming and yelling vocals at one point or another.  The thrashing, groovy riff progression that enters at 2:06 is holier than that Pope goof and his silly hat.

“Nuclear Dream” minces up a syncopated staccato in its intro riffs.  It doesn’t take long for the entire band to change the tempo to fuckin’ batshit speed and pissed-off vocal trades that are brimming with spit, snot and snarl.  My favorite Epi-Demic contribution “Stewing in Misery” lands the finishing blow.  That riff is the fuckin’ shit, quite Sabbath-y and giving it hell in a way that 80s COC and Sewer Puppet brought the groove to their unique blends of dingy hardcore harassment.

You can’t go wrong with either of these bands if you like your thrash impacted by a brass knuckle, punk/hardcore punch in the face.  Solanum and Epi-demic go hand in hand, yet are unique enough on their own merits that you know damn well who you’re listening to.  This is good fuckin’ shit right here.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
June 19th, 2015

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