Artist: Rugged / Outrage / Facepalm Death
Title: 3-Way Split
In the Bulgarian DIY scene, it’s rare to see a 3-way split, but this time, hardcore veterans Outrage have joined forces with two newer bands: Rugged, a promising metalcore group, and the experimental grindcore band Facepalm Death, featuring well-known members from the scene. This combination is intriguing, and after several listens, it’s clear that these three bands complement each other exceptionally well. The split is cohesive and seemingly conceptual, with a perfect track order starting with hardcore and finishing with some quirky grinding madness.
Each band contributes three songs to the split, creating a well-balanced release that leaves a lasting impression of each group without overshadowing the others. Released on CD on October 13, 2023 with a very impactful artwork and original layout by Rugged’s guitarist Georgi Ivanov (@bai_dracula) that fits well with the harsh nature of the music, conceptually depicting a skull split into three pieces.
Rugged’s “No Pity for Cowards” starts the split and is one of their best songs to date, perfectly representing what they are all about, not only in the absurdly brutal sound, but also in the very dark, ominous nature of their musical landscape. No wonder they call themselves ‘mentalcore’—we are nostalgically reminded of all the best bands from the ’90s H8000 scene in Belgium and the worldwide metalcore explosion at the time, reminiscent of bands like Congress, Integrity, and especially Kickback.
Rugged’s rich, two-guitar sound and catchy bass lines refresh this classic sound, enhanced by atmospheric gloomy parts. The recording and mixing by Mihail Slavov at Wind City Studio amplify their qualities, solidifying Rugged’s status as a band of global standard, showing growth in composition and lyrics. In my opinion, the scene really needs bands like this right now, bands that take from the classics, but do not copy them, and instead use their musical senses to establish their own unique way of creating timeless hardcore music. And Rugged have proven once again that they are more than capable of doing that in just three songs.
Next, the Bulgarian hardcore legends, Outrage, present three songs continuing from their strong last single Product—crusty, utterly dark and very brutal, almost blackened hardcore with slow sludgy elements which is deeply engaged with socio-political and deep introspective themes.
Recorded at Playground studio and mixed by Georgi Zhelyazkov in Prague, these tracks display a mature and darker side of Outrage. Their signature raspy vocals, soul-crushing riffs, and harmonics make their part of the split a compelling follow-up to Rugged’s metalcore start. There are even some clean vocals in “Масов убиец” which is undeniably their strongest song here, with its gloomy atmosphere eloquently combined with vicious brutality.
Finally, Facepalm Death concludes the split with three tracks that showcase their experimental grindcore style. Their sound is unique, reminding listeners of acts like Exit-13 or Dissassociate, but more so in the avant-garde conceptual direction and not the sound—although at times we can hear such influences. But I could hardly name a band that sounds like them, which speaks for itself—their heavily produced and mixed music here shows that they are still not afraid to experiment with different approaches to songwriting and techniques.
There are typical grinding riffs, there are even some eerie mathy elements and the drumming is admirably adapted to all this controlled musical chaos. The two-guitars certainly help them build a fuller, more complex sound and Slaveyko’s vocals are as innovative and interesting as ever as he experiments with different growls, screams and even singing styles. His trademark lyrics continue to amaze with their existential, introspective themes that perfectly complement the overall atmosphere of the songs. Facepalm Death show no signs of slowing down on their path of innovative musical progression, and once again these tracks from the split are a glowing testament to that statement, and no one could deny that such a unique band couldn’t be a more positive addition to our small and dedicated DIY scene.
Overall, this 3-way split is an excellent collaboration between three bands at their creative peak. Support the three bands via their respective Bandcamp pages or buy the excellently produced CD release, you won’t be disappointed and it’s more than worth it, because this split embodies everything that DIY culture stands for, above all—unity!