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Lately we've become an unofficial Arizona trading post for heavy things, so it makes sense Godhunter would appear on our pages at some point. Not that we needed to be blog middlepeople since Godhunter already have a strong handle on the internet. Proof of that lies in their domain name, as the Tuscon-based sextet snapped up a hell of a URL: http://dirtweedmetal.com. And their newest track "Pursuit/Predator" off of their forthcoming split GH/0ST:S with Oakland doomers and tour-buds Secrets of the Sky has a sound pairing perfectly with those three words.

Following a sample from the Zodiac Killer, Godhunter launch into a death sludge groove that will eat away the bad part of any day. Know though, we don't throw the word 'sludge' around lightly, at least not like the terabytes of style-biters donning the tag solely to sell a xeroxed boogie. "Pursuit/Predator" won't make you cringe, instead it scratches an itch. Godhunter place highly on the Buzzov•en scale measuring the enjoyability of a band's nihilism. Indeed, "Pursuit/Predator" documents a harsh dose of reality, but the presentation is ever so inviting. Guitarists David Rodgers and Jake Brazelton and bassist Dick Williamson combine to form a massive, world-swallowing tone. Drummer Andy Kratzenberg propels the song with a steady swing and ably brings the group's punk influences to the surface when the jolt is needed. Singer Charlie Touseull has that bellow which will always be imitated in showers and cars. And wildcard Matthew Davis adds a nice touch of cello to the acoustic outro. In the end, it pulls off the neat trick of all solid sludge, making violence and anguish feel so good.

Of course, the 40-minute GH/0ST:S also pulls off the neat trick of being the rare split doubling as a cohesive album. There's attention-keeping contrast between the two outfits, but they really work in tandem, deepening the flavors of the other. Secrets of the Sky wield bendy, neck-snapping doom while staking out their own melancholy territory, providing a bluer/spacier shade to Godhunter's blood red. But Godhunter, as displayed on this year's City of Dust, are able to slide into another gear to match Secrets of the Sky, giving their other spectral number dynamic peaks and valleys you wouldn't expect based on "Pursuit/Predator" alone. So there's a cool push/pull between the two, prodding each group to higher highs. The bands are good by themselves, great as a team. Here's hoping their paths cross again.

"Pursuit/Predator" appears on GH/0ST:S. The Godhunter and Secrets of the Sky split will be released September 9 by Battleground Records and The Compound. It's available for preorder now.

— Ian Chainey

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