Yet another episode in the recent series of great split-EP's from 2 topbands. This time around it's Chicago natives Alkaline Trio and Gainesville, Florida favorites Hot Water Music that combined and offer you a few brand new songs, as well as covers of eachother. Where did we hear that before...? Both bands toured together recently on the Plea For Peace Tour and had very successful releases early 2001: respectively 'From Here to Infirmary' on Vagrant and 'A Flight and A Crash' on Epitaph. The weird thing is that none of the covers on this split are of songs on these 2 releases.
With the 2 brand new songs of Alkaline Trio, the band picks up where their latest release left off and if you wonder what that means just check out that review here. Maybe the quality of these 2 songs is even above that standard, because they have guitars that are a notch harder. And then there's this incredible voice: warm and sang seemingly without any effort whatsoever. I think 'Queen of Pain' is simply the best song I heard these months. It proves that these guys are the kings of the golden switch between emotion and intensity. Now I'm not all that familiar with Hot Water Music and I never heard the original song that Alkaline Trio is covering here (taken from a 1999 album on Some Records entitled 'No Division'), but it's defintiely sounding good played by these guys, although it's pretty clear that this is no composition by them. It has more something like a post-hardcore structure, with a chorus that invites to shout.
HWM also starts with 2 new songs and I think I have to start checking out this band, because this is damn good material. Entirely different from Alkaline Trio but the passion that floods from these well-composed songs and the original hacky and tangled guitarplay in them really surprised me. Although the slightly soar vocals aren't as smooth as I like them to be, they fit with this music. And what's more ... they made the 2 Alkaline Trio covers sound fresh. They picked 'Radio' (from 'Maybe I'll Catch Fire' on Asian Man reviewed here a long long time ago) and 'Bleeder' (from AT's 'Self-Titled' album and originally on some out of print 7'). Both these songs get an amazing touch of passionate singing, although I like the Radio song more than the accoustic interpretation of Bleeder.
I know we had some smashing splits just recently, but I dare to say that this masterpiece is my favorite of them all. This is just 24 minutes of pure class punkrock, with Alkaline Trio raising their music to heights you seldom come across. Am I sounding a bit too euphoric you think? Check it out for yourself.