Birds In Row / WAITC – ‘Split’

By James Lee

It’s been a tough three years as a Birds In Row fan, waiting for the band to follow up their stunning album ‘You, Me And The Violence’.

Lucky for us, Christmas has come early this year, as the band have returned with not one but two brand new records this month: mini-album ‘Personal War’ (again courtesy of Jacob Bannon’s Deathwish Inc), and this, a 6-track split EP with fellow residents of Laval, France WAITC. Before you ask, it stands for We Are In The Country, or at least used to before the band dropped the longer name and kept the simple acronym as their monicker.

Birds In Row recorded the tracks for both releases in a single session late in 2014, deciding ultimately that: “two EPs would probably be more coherent than one heterogenous album”. It would be an easy assumption to make that the songs here might have been cast-offs that weren’t fit for ‘Personal War. Actually listening to the EP makes it very clear that this isn’t the case however, with the 3 tracks here easily sitting alongside the band’s strongest material.

From howling feedback and guitar noise to thundering D-beats, via off-kilter screamo reminiscent of Deathwish labelmates Loma Prieta on second track ‘Can’t Lie’, Birds In Row prove themselves as true mavericks capable of mastering pretty much all cornerstones of modern hardcore.

Where the band really stand out from the pack is in the relative clarity of their sound. While many of their peers bury their melodic tendencies in fuzz and distortion, Birds In Row aren’t afraid to leave their guitars clean and raw, the aggression coming from the sheer intensity and passion of their playing, rather than a Boss HM-2 pedal.

Of course, Birds In Row aren’t alone on this EP. Along for the ride are their friends and fellow countrymen WAITC, who bring their own brand of chaotic screamo to the table. While not a million miles away from Birds In Row stylistically, WAITC’s tracks on this EP are much more abrasive overall, with a more discordant, metallic sound, not unlike classic 90’s noisecore acts Coalesce and Drowningman.

WAITC’s side of the split is a frightening cavalcade of mangled riffing, vicious stabbing drums and rumbling bass that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Botch record. Their songs even occasionally veer into gut-churning sludge dirges that bring on the feeling of being trapped in a dark, wet basement with a snarling, bloodthirsty dog.

The band’s ability to shift gears so often without ever sounding incoherent is a real gift, and makes for a challenging but rewarding listen. There’s a sinister, uncomfortable atmosphere at play that’s a real contrast to Birds In Row’s more hopeful and uplifting anthems on side A, but one that’s thoroughly enjoyable all the same.

The only negative feeling we could throw at ‘Split’ is that it’s all over far too quickly. The whole EP is just a quarter of an hour. The relative brevity of the release doesn’t hamper its impact however, and the dense, rich music within is moreish enough that you’ll want to jump straight back to track one the second it finishes.

On ‘Split’, BIrds In Row have cemented their reputation as one of the best bands in hardcore today, and WAITC have proven themselves as a more than worthy counterpoint.

JAMES LEE

Three more album reviews for you

Kris Barras Band - ‘Halo Effect’

Dead Pony – ‘IGNORE THIS’

Bayside - ‘THERE ARE WORSE THINGS THAN BEING ALIVE’