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Split Cranium Keep It Simple On “I’m The Devil and I’m OK”

split cranium

Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS). Keep that sentence shorter, those lyrics trimmed, that guitar solo around three seconds. Cut, cut, cut, and get to the fucking point. Make your message appear like a red ribbon in a sea of white. Have the audacity to correct your superfluous methods. Realize that what is usually good is usually straightforward.

Split Cranium — the supergroup which plays like the second unit on the winning team in the NBA finals (meaning they play hard and with heart) — had such notions on their 2012 self-titled debut. Composed of experimental extenders Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom), Jussi Lehtisalo (Circle, Pharaoh Overlord), Jukka Kröger (Resleep) [Tomi Leppänen replaces Kröger on the new record], Nate Newton (Converge), and Faith Coloccia (Mamiffer), the band churned out a quick and flexing little d-beat punk classic. It was smart and ripping, something of a musical divergence for the majority of the artists (a collection that is naturally adept at tinkering and pushing for extensions).

Now, the group is back with I’m The Devil and I’m OK, a record with the same KISS philosophy as the former, but altogether smarter and more fully realized this time around. The KISS mantra (like a Buddhist prayer) is still omnipresent over the album’s additions of taste and atmosphere: there’s noise and sonic diversity, and yet it remains a simple and ideally executed diversity. And so, I’m The Devil and I’m OK has more depth and is more interesting, but is still very much an on-the-corner, walking-the-streets, kind of punk rock. Steam the whole thing below.

The realization that punk rock is the strongest of extreme musical forms (sorry heavy metal, you don’t even come close), plus the extended realization that punk rock (the basic emotion and standard sound) is the key leaping-off point for more thoroughly developed and even more aggressive mannerisms, are both things Split Cranium have clearly realized.

“We wanted to make a record that was less straightforward than the first one. Jussi loves melody and I love dissonance and noise, so that is probably the healthy creative contrast that made this record what it is,” states Turner. The straightforwardness still aligns the band’s equilibrium, but on the new record, the subtle yet extremely penetrating openness (the horns on “The Age of Embitterment,” the noisescapes of “Pain of Innocence,” the Killing Joke expansion of “Ingurgitated Liquids,” and the spoken word poetry at the end of “I’m The Devil and I’m Ok”) makes for a stronger and more tangible offering.

For a band who doesn’t play together as a whole often, I’m The Devil and I’m OK feels like it was made by the inseparable gang at the end of the corner, the one inspiring all the kids to grow fucked up haircuts and believe in themselves. It’s real, and makes you feel real.

I’m The Devil and I’m OK releases on May 25th via Ipecac (preorder at the link). Follow Split Cranium on Facebook and Bandcamp

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