Full Stream: Malevich / Iron Gag – ‘Split’

Blackened grind/hardcore/sludge outfit Malevich first caught my attention with their searing hot debut, Only the Flies. Pulling together noisy sludge, relentless grind and frantic hardcore and topping it off with raging vocals, Only the Flies should have drawn the attention of extreme metal fans across the spectrum.

A year later, Malevich have returned for a split with Iron Gag, and it’s obvious from the get-go that this split is both bands’ best work. For their part, Malevich (featuring new vocalist Connor Ray) are even more unhinged, striking with even more rage than Only the Flies. 

Iron Gag offer three tracks of grinding, dark hardcore, the ideal foil to Malevich. Decibel spoke with both bands about the split. Read it below while listening to a full stream. You can pre-order the release through both Iron Gag and Malevich on Bandcamp.

What’s changed within Malevich since 2016’s Only the Flies? How do you feel Malevich has evolved as a band on this new split with Iron Gag?
Since Only the Flies we parted ways with our vocalist Will Turner and our good friend Connor Ray took his place. The transition was as smooth as we could have hoped and Connor has been doing a great job. We initially started the band as a joke about covering “Lowest Common Denominator” by Converge but recently we have been very interested in pulling the music into more genre-bending and experimental places. We love hardcore and screamo and they play a big part in our sound, but we are pushing our writing into more personally challenging place in terms of writing more interesting, technical, and twisted music informed by avant-garde extreme metal/hardcore.

Your lyrics on Only the Flies were pretty raw and honest, with lines like “You’ll never be alone/Carve those words into my side with broken glass/”God wouldn’t even touch this” /You take me in.” Did you make an attempt to be similarly candid on this split? What was on your mind when writing the 2 songs on your side of the split?
Our lyric writing doesn’t have a hard and fast structure, but our loose goal is to communicate something candid and incisive that still feels personal and expressive. Our lyric writing has also come from multiple places, Sasha and Will on Only the Flies, Sasha and Connor on the split; those lyrics in particular were written by Will but we definitely made an attempt to catch the energy and emotional space of his writing style. In regards to this split: “Trial of Metaphor” is about how every metal/hardcore band writes shitty lyrics about hurting women and “Causality” is about being disillusioned with religion.

Why did you choose Iron Gag as the other band on the split? What do they bring to the table that you feel matches up with or juxtaposes your own music?
Iron Gag and ourselves are bands informed by both metal and hardcore but we take those influences and meld them in our own distinct ways, we thought what they would write would complement what we do but that both bands would have their own personality.  Beyond that, both of us are dedicated and active when it comes to writing and touring and, more importantly, we have played shows, hung out and smoked hella weed.

Most members of Malevich play in other bands, and their genres are all diverse. Does everyone in Malevich come from a different musical background? Do you actively strive to make sure Malevich doesn’t sound like your other bands?
We all love metal but it is by no means the full extent of what we listen to or enjoy making. On tour we are just as likely to listen to Erykah Badu or Bjork as we are Gorguts or Funeral Diner. Most of us have written, recorded, and toured with other bands: Sasha currently plays in Juna (emo/post-rock) and had a screamo band named Nurture, Josh plays in Pallow (slowcore/shoegaze), Connor currently plays in Hallowed and Sombered (drone and dark folk, respectively) and Daniel used to play in an experimental noise project called Tonda.

We started Malevich trying to tap into a musical space that was aggressive and extreme in a way that our other bands weren’t, so it has never really been a struggle to get the band to sound different.

Let’s talk about the artwork. Who did it and why did you choose it for the split?
The artwork was a collaborative piece between the bands. Colin from Iron Gag painted an inkwash as an underpainting and Sasha drew and painted on top of that. The imagery was meant to reference a sort of chaotic procession and turmoil that splits between Heaven and Hell, the Dutch painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and Gustave Dore’s illustrations of the divine comedy were big inspirations thematically. Hans Bellmer’s photography, in particular his capturing of warped bodies, also played a big role in informing the imagery.

Iron Gag:

You released Malingering, an 11-track album, in February, but Bandcamp says it was written much earlier. What was the cause for delay in release, and why choose to release more new music so quickly after Malingering?
Malingering was delayed in release because it was suppose to be released by a smaller label with a pressing on vinyl. Unfortunately, this never happened so we decided to just release it digitally ourselves. One of the main goals in this band was to at least have a vinyl whether it be an LP or 7”. We live in an ADD society and everyone is so quick to want something new. So we started writing new songs when we got back from tour and a few months later went in the studio.

None of the songs on your side of the split get much past 1:45. On your last release, there was a mixture of song lengths – while mostly short, there were a few longer (relative to the others on the album). What influenced you when you wrote these 3 songs? 

This time around, we just wanted to write straight forward songs. We feel these songs are a little more abrasive and aggressive than some of our earlier stuff. As far as the lyric content it’s a little less self negative and more about trying to conquer those demons while still having the angst and hatred for ​​humanity as a whole. At the end of the day we just want to write music we enjoy playing. It’s all about the feels.

Why did you choose to do the split with Malevich? What about their music did you feel was a good fit with Iron Gag? 
Both Malevich and Iron Gag are those bands that don’t necessarily fit in with one genre so it only made sense to do a split with them. Plus the idea had been talked and joked about for the last two years but now it’s actually a thing. Malevich have that late 90’s early 00’s sound that we all personally grew up on and love. They definitely have their own style of blackened experimental grind with hardcore parts.