Split//Bite – 404 Ends EP


June seems to be the month for Norway to showcase the diversity of its heavy music scene. First, we had hardcore/noise rock trio, Hammok, release their new EP. Then Grant the Sun produced their sophomore prog metal masterpiece. Now, the Bergen metallic hardcore quartet, Split//Bite, are here to prove that there’s more to Norway than corpse paint and church-burning.

The four members of Split//Bite played in various hardcore bands before their formation in 2022. They supported English powerhouse, Employed to Serve, on their Oslo tour date earlier this month and released their first single back in January. These are exciting times for the band. An empowering sense of invigoration runs through their music like a drug-enhanced boost of energy. Opener, ‘Naked Lunch’, takes its name from the famous William Burroughs novel and sources its DNA from contemporary hardcore. Drop-tuned circular riff patterns and temple-throbbing scream vocals clash with drums that threaten to take off in a faster tempo. Swerving groove beats and grinding basslines keep you in a state of anxiety as you search for a guiding light in the chaos. Every riff counts as if it might be the last one before the lights go out. Anyone with a casual interest in mainstream metal can enjoy the ferocity and testosterone release of this song. Knocked Loose fans will need no invitation to two-step to the brutality on display here.

Modern hardcore is an integral part of the extreme metal landscape these days, but Split//Bite remind us of the genre’s punk roots in ‘Error Ends’. You’ll hear no thrash or crossover riffing in the faster parts. The vocals hiss with a facetious attack on the manipulative media barons and social media influencers that reduce the existential struggles of life to meaningless soundbites: “This is what they want to see/ You against complexities,” roars the vocalist with a snarling bite of the tongue. The colossal body-slamming grooves of ‘Forgotten Place’ will remind you of the audio obliteration of Great American Ghost. Here, the drummer uses the growling bass guitar lines as his focus point for a personal workshop. Feedback screeches and fuzzy overflows fill the spaces in between chords and bass notes. Down-picking riffs contort and shake like the body of a person with their hand trapped in a door.

An analysis of the lyrics reveals an abstract existentialism that pits the individual against the structures and institutions of society that aim to subjugate them. ‘Why Achieve Nirvana When I Can Play Video Games Instead?’ is like a modern incarnation of Vision of Disorder with the crunchy guitar shapes of Machine Head. Closing track, ‘A Proud Ship Far from Shore’, needs only two minutes and twenty-four seconds to leave permanent truncheon marks on your body. Both songs stop and start and pause and veer off course like a metaphor for the stress and foreboding of modern life.

Of course, life does not look like a struggle on the outside. The people sat across from you in the train carriage retain calm expressions. Waiters that serve your food in restaurants smile at you. The man who handles your life assurance policy is affable and tidy. Inside, they might be a nervous wreck. Split//Bite are the internalisation of this anxiety. They also write mean guitar riffs and manipulate your body into disobeying your trained instinct to stand tall and stoic. Sometimes, you need to let it all out.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 09/06/2023

Record Label: Loyal Blood Records

Standout tracks: Naked Lunch, Why Achieve Nirvana When I Can Play Video Games Instead?

Suggested Further Listening: Bailer – Disposable Youth (2021), Great American Ghost – Torture World EP (2022), Jesus Piece – …So Unknown (2023)