Quite an incendiary experience it's been cranking this one up to deafening volumes. Two of Europe's finest metalcore acts on one CD yet again. If you've not had the pleasure of stimulating the senses with albums like HEAVEN SHALL BURN's "Antigone" or CALIBAN's "The Opposite from Within", the split provides a good opportunity to experience the power of both bands. After paying little attention to either act in the past (for no apparent reason), my interest has been piqued.
The combination of an explosive sound mix and riffs that burn hotter than napalm on flesh is aurally devastating. HEAVEN SHALL BURN's six-track contribution burns the hottest, the band's style a more thrash-oriented approach. Two new tracks, "Unleash Enlightenment" and "No One Will Shed a Tear", grab those within reach by the throat and squeeze. The latter track boasts an especially infectious chorus. The odd, yet somehow not out of place, two-and-a-half minute piano/string instrumental "Nyfaedd Von" then hits; it's an enchanting piece written by Ólafur Arnalds. The blitzkrieg resumes on a re-recording of "If this a Man", followed by two excellent cover choices, MERAUDER's "Downfall of Christ" (love that sinister riff and menacing accent) and ENDSTAND's "Destroy Fascism".
The CALIBAN "side" of the split begins with the band's more traditional KILLSWITCH ENGAGE style of chug pummel and soaring clean vocal chorus on "The Revenge", the only new song of the bunch. The remaining tracks are all retooled versions that appeared on older CALIBAN releases — two from the debut EP, one from "A Small Boy and a Grey Heaven", and one from the first split with HEAVEN SHALL BURN. While I can't compare the new versions to the originals, I'm impressed with how well the songs fit together as a group, not to mention the general quality of the music. "A Summer Dream" deserves mention for the passionate semi-spoken vocal parts and the grandness of melody that permeates the hard-driving chug.
I won't debate the cover choices (both slay) nor the decision to include only three new tracks from each band. I'll simply note that "The Split Program II" is one of the better split releases I've heard in the last couple of years.