As a person who gets around 100 music e-mails per day, it’s telling when a short description can make a large impact – not just because its brevity stands out against some of the mini-novella-sized write-ups that I get, but because it encapsulates the band so perfectly. When I got the e-mail, I followed the link to the Bandcamp and the first thing I read was: “Minimalistic design in the proudest noise/powerviolence tradition, and pro-dubbed for maximum sonic destruction. No pleasure at all, only torture.” Friendship I&II is exactly that. Sudden, loud, erratic, but also slow, consuming and destructive.
The Japanese duo waste no time with opener ‘Jerusalem’, which breaks you in with a quick blast. The track is so abrasive that you might think this is all they have in store for you – and then it ends after barely a half-minute. And that’s when Friendship get murky and violently heavy with ‘T.R.Ø.Y.’; the four-and-a-half-minute slammer is a sludgy, disgruntled, ugly slab of slow and speed.
If you were to boil this down to a pen/paper summary, you’d probably wonder what’s so special; Friendship blends genres the way a lot of bands blend genres. It’s the way that they highlight the genres they play which sets them apart. When they go for sludge, it’s boggy thick. When powerviolence is on the menu, the music is every bit as disjointed as those familiar with the genre would expect. And their mastery of grind/PV/sludge is nerve-shattering.
Friendship is a band that hold onto their aggression and smash in teeth with a bicycle chain, or let it all slip away into the heavy murk, as demonstrated by tracks like the oddly titled ‘Hype’. The track starts out with the intent to destroy swiftly, but once it has its hands around your neck it indulges in the musical equivalent of slowly pushing its thumbs in and administering a slow, choking death. They’re the kind of band that enjoy the way they kill.
I&II, despite being a combination of previous releases, feels like a cohesive whole. Nothing sounds glued together or out of place. Once one EP ends and the other begins, there’s nothing to tell the two apart (though I presume I ends at track six).
Fans of bands like Man is the Bastard, Apartment 213 and Primitive Man should already be into this. Friendship is relentlessly heavy and fast. Fans of powerviolence and will find a dense, vicious experience. It will be interesting to see what Friendship conjure up next, as the formula is true and tight. Seeing the Japanese band veer into more unpredictable territory could yield some even more insane results. Until then, turn this up loud.