Split albums are a tricky proposition.
More often than not, only one of the two bands on the split is worth listening to, completely defeating the purpose of the album being split in the first place. In other, more rare instances, both bands put forth compelling enough efforts to warrant repeated listens. The joint effort of Philadelphia's the Deadly and Milan, Italy's the Disgarzia Legend lies somewhere in between.
The styles of the two bands are similar enough that if you enjoy one side of the split, chances are good that you're going to enjoy the other. This is not without its drawbacks; since these bands are relatively similar, a lot of the eight songs on the album do end up sounding alike.
The Deadly have the first four songs on the album, and that's all it takes to present their raucous style of hardcore. Rich Lippold's scathing screams ride the band's oft-changing rhythms for a very unpredictable approach. The guitar work of Jon Hodges buzzes over the quick fills laid down by drummer Jon Pushnik in "These Are Cherry Blossoms," and the speed of the song picks up with Lippold's increasingly volatile vocal demeanor. "Dirty Stay Out" is a slower, more punchy track that would round out the band's sound better without the unfortunate inclusion of sung background vocals that really don't fit the tempo. The Deadly do get back on track with the jarring "Passion Major," but are still somewhat slowed by those muddled background vocals.
The album does pick up some steam with the four songs contributed by the Disgrazia Legend, but the Italian hardcore outfit is not without their own set of problems.
"The Blue Leaf Song" does not start out with much of a kick, as the middling intro combination of piano and drums grows boring quickly. Rather than building an atmosphere, the intro seems out of place. Once the vocals of singer Marco Chiapella are introduced, the music picks up and comes a bit more into its own, but the similarities to the Deadly keep the band from establishing a sound of their own. Chiapella's manic screams don't sound much different from Lippold's -- it's the rhythms underneath
that keep the two bands from identical sounds.
While the Deadly used a lot of quick chord progressions, The Disgrazia Legend rely on slower instrumentals. Chiapella's impassioned screams reverberate over simple arrangements, maximizing the power of those vocals. "Kill the Killers Kill the Killers" rounds out the split on a positive note, going back and forth between slow, dissonant rhythms and faster progressions.
There's bits and pieces of something more on each of the band's sides, but neither is able to find a definite groove of their own.
Overall, good or bad? Well, somewhere in between.