Notable apart from its hour-plus length for being the first recorded output of the post-Bongzilla project Aquilonian, who’ve been threatening for a while now with MySpace samples and teases of the like, this split CD between them and Ohio sludge demons Sollubi (whose previous At War with Decency full-length might just have been victorious in its conflict) is two tracks — one from each band, each over a half-hour long — that seems to create an economy all its own. If you’ve ever thought of buying music in terms of “bang for your buck,” I fail to see a better option than getting two short LP-length offerings from these bands. Most splits feel like throwaway tracks. This feels like home.
Aquilonian go first, which given the built-in interest that will no doubt lead many to check out this split is only proper. The duo of guitarist/vocalist Michael Makela and drummer/vocalist Michael Henry (though neither is particularly busy in the vocal department) have composed “Symphonica de Levita” for the occasion, and with it they put on a master class in how to transpose a groove on top of repetitive riffing. Anyone expecting Bongzilla-type grime will be surprised to find Aquilonian residing in a different, less sludge-laden niche, as though all the stoner in the band was distilled to its essential weedian elements. “Symphonica de Levita” reminds heavily of Sleep’s Holy Mountain, but even more than Makela’s tone or vocals, it’s the drum work of Henry that provokes the association. The ready snare taps that Chris Hakius used to make the best material on that album as memorable as it is, Henry seems apt to employ here, and it works to similar effect. The simplicity of their groove is essential, and even when the track breaks down at about 24 minutes in, it is all the more satisfying when it picks up again to finish with some of its most active guitar/drum interplay.