The story goes that Jussi Lehtisalo of prog metallers Circle formed Split Cranium as a way to “just get his fucking riff on” following a tour with ISIS (the band, not the dickheads), and after one listen to the crusty, punk bellow spat forth on I’m The Devil and I’m OK, it’s safe to say mission accomplished. While the Finnish-American anarcho-punks’ d-beat worshiping debut largely clung to the crust formula like yesterday’s Weetabix, its follow-up loosens that feral grip ever so slightly to allow a few welcome surprises in. An increased use of the synthy Gregorian chanting first explored on said debut’s closing number, Retrace The Circle, gives tracks like Evil Hands and Death Bed: The Yellow Room a faint whiff of the Faith No More, while Oh Brother, Where are Thou? style cowpunk bluegrass powers through The Age of Embitterment, before the album ends with a vaudevillian spoken word piece. Elsewhere, indecipherable death metal vocals clash with a never-ending onslaught of early 90s skate punk riffs and tones, making it oddly easy to convince oneself that a song like Ingurgitated Liquids started life as a Bad Religion or Pennywise cover (before being introduced to glue-sniffing, Bumfights and Deicide). Sufficiently diverse and experimental to lift it above the regular d-beat pack, while retaining enough misanthropic mulch to keep it firmly in the crust wheelhouse, I’m The Devil and I’m OK is a Frankenstein’s monster of punk-metal, built of recognisable parts but defying categorisation, and a worthy addition to any collection.
I’m The Devil and I’m OK is out 25 May on Ipecac