Hello, friend. Have you seen Jaws? I certainly have. It’s a truly great film where Richard Dreyfus yells a lot (like he does in every film) and people get eaten by sharks. You know who else saw Jaws? The boys in Squalus. Also, their friends in Shadow Limb (formerly La Fin Du Monde).
It was 2017 when Squalus unveiled their debut LP The Great Fish… and made true on their promise to create a Jaws-themed project. Like that release, their side of the split conjures tense imagery of legs dangling unprotected under shark-infested waters. Their unique brand of progressive sludge marries perfectly with the theme of shark attack. Soft, rolling rhythms and melodies undercut Aaron Gregory’s multi-faceted vocal attack. At times he’s somber, using his bubbling tenor to serenade the listener into captivity. At other times he’s harsh, painfully straining and shouting in staccato patterns in time with the rhythm section. Ultimately, his voice culminates in a layer of styles punctuated by his warm shouts. The mix of instruments, marrying piano with distorted guitars and keyboards, creates an effective aura that is both beautiful and horrifying. Swim, Charlie, Swim.
On the other side, Shadow Limb calls to mind bands like Cable and Cavity—the sludgy goodness that made Hydra Head popular in the late 90s and early aughts. With harsher, more urgent vocals than Squalus and nearly psychedelic guitar lines, their side of the album feels more like a dream state—a nightmare of murderous proportions. Even their softer side (with the exception of the ending of “Dark Sigil”) feel off-kilter and slightly terrifying. Shadow Limb succeed in making the listener feel suffocated, about to be eaten by sharks in greenish, cold water while parents look on helplessly from the shore clutching a warm bologna sandwich.
Did I mention that the release has original artwork by Squalus frontman Aaron John Gregory? I should mention that because the artwork is rad and it’s just another personal touch from the man whose voice has, on several occasions, brought a room full of people to simultaneous climax. Swim safely out there, friends.