One rarely expects in putting on a song called “An Eighth of Meth Scabs” that it’s going to be the most accessible fare on the release, but with the Fistula and Radiation Sickness split tape on Die Song, that’s how it works out. The two Midwestern outfits — Fistula with their roots in Cleveland, Ohio, Radiation Sickness in Indianapolis — each unleash an overwhelming barrage of sonic filth on their appointed side, and while Radiation Sickness are more in the vein of Repulsion-style grind and thrash, they find common ground with Fistula‘s we-broke-into-your-house-and-ate-all-your-pills-yes-even-the-multivitamins sludge in punk-bred malevolent fuckall, both acts meter out punishment with apparent glee. If such a thing is possible, they do sound like they’re having fun making all this noise.
Though they formed in the late ’80s, Radiation Sickness had broken up and gotten back together circa 2010 before releasing their first full-length in 2012, and while Fistula have seen a number of lineup changes through their tenure — like, a lot — serving as a kind of hub around which Ohio’s sludge has addled its collective brain, and released splits over the last couple years with Monkeypriest and Necrocannibalistic Vomitorium, their material here stands itself out. Recorded in 2012 with the personnel Scott “Wizard” Stearns on guitar/drums, Corey Bing on drums/guitar/bass/vocals, Aaron Brittain on vocals/samples, Dan Harrington on vocals and Mike Burns on bass, Fistula‘s three songs — the aforementioned “An Eighth of Meth Scabs,” plus “The Time We Bought Dope from the Cops” and “Dark Side of the Rusty Spoon” — only further indicate how much the band’s extremity seems to be waiting for the rest of the world to catch up. When and if it ever does, Fistula have a mountain of a discography waiting of limited EPs and splits, and their continually unhinged, violent approach has only proven more lethal with time.
In addition to the tape, of which 100 were pressed, the split is also coming soon on 12″ vinyl in an edition of 300 copies from Ivory Antler. It’s my first exposure to Radiation Sickness, who squeeze nine shorter tracks where their compatriots found room for three, though on the tape, it all melds together as something of a wash of abrasion and fast drums. But for “Reflections of a Psychotic Past,” which was helmed by Bob Fouts (formerly of Apostle of Solitude), their material was recorded by Carl Byers and comes through fittingly raw, songs like “The Death We Choose” and “Tripping in the Seas of Sadness” pummeling with little by way of compassion or regard for decency. Instrumentally there are some leanings toward crossover hardcore punk, but the vocals of Doug Palmer tend more toward the brutal and push Radiation Sickness in an extreme direction, which no one on board seems to want to argue with. I wouldn’t, anyway.
If you’re looking for something progressive or melodic, or something from which you might glean a reason to keep trying to make your way through the day, search elsewhere. Neither Fistula nor Radiation Sickness are in the business of doling out hope, and the common ground they find across this tape turns out most to be in the vicious misanthropy at play in both their sounds.