Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Grind in Rewind 2008

You know the drill. Here is where I’m sposed fart out onto the interwebs for about 150 words about how about how awesome 2008 was for grind and how it had some highs and lows blah blah blah. Inevitably, half of you will probably think I’m a complete idiot and asshole. Not that I’m denying either. Like I said, you know where this is going. Here’s what rocked my grindcore socks in 2008.

10. Afgrund
Svarta Dagar
I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned this before, but I loves me some Swedish punk and metal, which is why Afgrund (OK part of the band is Finnish) was such an exciting revelation for me in 2008. While it’s always a joy to score something new from Gadget, Sayyadina or Retaliation or bask in the sheer genius that was Nasum, it’s also refreshing (and frankly a tad astonishing) to realize how much vitality and life can be wrung out of such a simple formula: no frills grind with classic Swede death production. Svarta Dagar brought that in spades, which is why it’s still in pretty frequent rotation at chez Childers.
And if you need a second opinion, look no further than those shrewd marketing geniuses at what is currently the best metal label working in Pennsylvania. What better way for Afgrund to auld lang 2008’s syne than with a well deserved Willowtip contract (who also just snagged Magrudergrind btw! who will record with the Ballou/Hull!! axis next month!!!).

9. Population Reduction
Each Birth a New Disaster
Tank Crimes
With an album title swiped from Ralph Bakshi’s 1977 fromage-stuffed swords and sorcery cum Nazi Armageddon cartoon parable, Wizards, self proclaimed “hash smoking grind fiends” Population Reduction tattoo one of Mark Twain’s many brilliant observations that “Sacred cows make the best hamburger” into your flesh with every drillbit thrash-to-grind-riff-slide and needle pointed staccato drum fill or blast beat.
The terrible two piece blithely shred riffs and metal tropes on their second release, Each Birth a New Disaster, a collection of delightfully catchy ditties about cheap weed, cheap beer, cheaply made horror films and korpsepaint kommandoes at the beach. As with every aphorism, it’s the exceptions that prove its wisdom and the whole grind world should send Peter Svoboda and Dr. X’s mothers a lovely flower arrangement next Mothers Day to commemorate two births that were far from disastrous.

8. Parlamentarisk Sodomi
Har Du Sagt "A" Får Du Si "Nal"
No Escape
Awesome artist, Burnt by the Sun-in-law and all around excellent person Scott Kinkade called this anally probing one man Norwegian machine “the best grind release of the year hands down.” That may be a tad hyperbolic considering Kinkade contributed photos to a certain new grind album of one Mr. Jon Chang, but he’s got a good ear for talent because Papirmollen’s solo excursion kicks all kinds of Scandinavian ass and is a far more mature outing than you’d expect for a disc graced by hand-drawn dicks. Deftly weaving local political commentary and scatological humor, Parlamentarisk Sodomi eschew metal’s wonted generalities about politics and call out hometown pols for heaps of ridicule by name. Best of all, he backs that mockery with brass knuckled bursts of tightly written grinding goodness and solos to pucker the taints of half of Parliament. Norway is not typically known for its punk and grind scene, but here’s hoping Parlamentarisk Sodomi are the cusp of a revolution. But remember, sodomy is like Christmas: it’s better to give than receive.

7. Looking For an Answer
Living Dead Society
For the irony-challenged commenters out there who thought I was unnecessarily picking on these awesome Spaniards' bunny huggery, here’s how you know when Andrew his being sarcastically hyperbolic: my lips are moving. While I may have joked about the Looking For An Answer’s hardline animal right’s stance, their ferocious brand of no bullshit grind is deadly serious. Felix’s speed picking on “Cada Nacimiento Es Una Tragedia” and “Ruptura” is some of the tightest chops you’ll hear all year, proving there is still plenty of life in the foundation Terrorizer laid down 20 odd years ago. Solid songwriting and sincere aggression are a potent combination and Looking For An Answer simmer up a heady brew. This is a band I’d have a steak with any day.

6. Maruta
In Narcosis
It’s not often a band makes me get my learn on, but Maruta had me hitting the books in October, getting a crash course in Japanese atrocities in World War 2, conveniently recreated for your listening pleasure as a mass of top flight tech grind. Though often delayed and plagued by lineup instability, Maruta’s Willowtip debut is without bullshit or prevarication, the single best grind debut of the year. We’re grindcore to hand out the equivalent of the Calder Trophy for the best rookie campaign, Maruta would be high in the balloting. If all you know of the swamp dwelling Floridians is their appearance on This Comp Kills Fascists, then hie thee ass unto they local record distributor or clicketh thy mouse toward Willowtip because In Narcosis is a half hour hit and run session with a refurbished Sherman tank.
And for more information on Unit 731 and other war criminals, consult your local library.

5. Total Fucking Destruction
Peace, Love and Total Fucking Destruction
The freakiest collection in Philly outside of the thoroughly awesome Mutter Museum, Rich Hoak’s traveling grindcore circus is even more bizarre and meandering than even his previous day job in stoner grinders Brutal Truth. Peace Love and Total Fucking Destruction, the band’s second full length, once again delves into the spacey corners of Hoak’s id to mine misanthropy and esoteric yoga for nuggets of pointed misanthropy and trenchant social commentary. Mixing the third eye wide open lyrical bent with a willingness to push the narrow confines of the grind, Total Fucking Destruction are consistently the most interesting and adventurous band working the style. After totally fucking destroying two full lengths in two years, I hope there’s still some steam left in Hoak’s grindfreak railroad for a third outing.

4. Kill the Client
Don’t fucking mess with Texas. With Insect Warfare gone, Kill the Client reign supreme in the Lone Star State and remain grind’s best hope for repping their home after eight years of douchebaggery wrought by Turd Blossom and Dubya. And Cleptocracy, the meanest fucking album in Client’s short career to date, indiscriminately detonating IEDs that send flesh rending shrapnel spewing in all directions. From the Wage Slave EP through debut full length Escalation of Hostility, Kill the Client just get nastier and more refined, sloughing off anything that might restrain their cluster bomb assault. While other bands may feel the need to spelunk grind’s hidden crevices, Kill the Client are happy to keep the home fires smoldering, proving there’s plenty of life left in a straight forward assault delivered with anger and intensity.

3. Rotten Sound
These Finn’s latest postcard from the land of going postal boasts their finest production ever, a grisly affair that lets you feel every tooth of the hacksaw and its shreds nerve endings and soft tissue before crunching up against bone. Cycles, available in Europe for most of the year before getting a late season stateside, should come with splatter shields like a Gallagher concert – just as many hammer smashed projectiles but a lot fewer lame ass jokes.
Five full lengths into a career with a body count higher than that pussy Jigsaw, Rotten Sound are playing with the kind of loose ferocity that bespeaks a band that has invested the years and done the shitty shows and clockwork practices to fully release the psychotic scrawl that crawls their skulls. But if you happen to see one of them unpacking a cardboard box in the next cube, I’d ask for a transfer.

The Way of All Flesh
Black Box
It was either Billy Joel or Ted Kennedy who said only the good die young. Case in point, NYC’s grind behemoths ASRA (Alleged Satanic Ritual Abuse to their moms).
Sadly defunct after one short album and a handful of tracks on Scott Hull’s outstanding This Comp Kills Fascists collection, ASRA obliterated 2008 with the most impressive assault of classic grind unleashed on unsuspecting ears since Insect Warfare dropped their last release. Unfortunately, the combo went tits up just as they seemed to be on the crest of grindcore superstardom (if that’s not a complete misnomer). But the New Yorkers left an ugly purple contusion on music’s face in their abortive existence with their Assuck meets Napalm Death brand of fleet beat manifestos. If there were any justice in the cosmos, Elton John would drag his sagging bitch tits into the studio and rewrite “Candle in the Wind” (yet again) to commemorate ASRA’s passing.

1. GridLink
Amber Gray
I cannot overstate the trouser tentage I was sporting in anticipation of this too fucking short platter of brilliance, particularly after the previously dormant Jon Chang limbered up his vocal cords on the Speak Engrish or Die thrashtastic assault of Hayaino Daisuki.
Tearing through a whole crate of Hall’s throat lozenges, Chang reminded the grindcore world why Discordance Axis kicked so much otaku ass and why dude still reigns fucking supreme. And why I hope he never spares his kidneys by cutting down his caffeine intake.
Being an Asian film nerd, the only comparable bit of kinetic artistry I could find to compare to this fidgety batch of thumb-on-fastforward goodness was Takashi Miike’s redonkulously over the top 1999 yakuza v. triad v. cops flick Dead or Alive, particularly the opening 10 minute montage of violence, perversion and absurd drug use that will pretty much shame any 120 minutes of overblown Michael Bay CGI craptacularity or Quentin Tarantino plagiarism… *cough* I mean “homage.” (I actually tried to synch up Amber Gray and DOA’s opening thinking I could bill it as the grindcore version of Dark Side of the Moon/Wizard of Oz but it just didn’t work as well as I envisioned.)
Which is too bad because Miike, back in his mid-90s prime, would have been the perfectly skewed visionary to set “The Jenova” and “Stake Knife” (already permanently inscribed in my gray matter) to celluloid in the kind of East Coast meets Far East cultural cross pollination of which I’m sure Chang would approve.
This grindcore samurai guerilla ensemble is setting the current gold standard for grind and it’s going to be a hard one to topple any time soon.

Coming Thursday: Andrew gets his punk on, 2008 style.

Friday, December 26, 2008

G&P review: Capitalist Casualties/Hellnation

Capitalist Casualties/Hellnation
Sound Pollution/Six Weeks
Iraq war, environmental degradation, government corruption. Blah, blah blah. We’ve heard it all so many fucking times before. But if you’re like me, and Mithras help you if you are, what you’ve really been dying to know is where Capitalist Casualties stands on fatal jellyfish attacks off Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. If so, “Irukandji, the best jellyfish-themed slice of pop culture since Kiyoshi Kurasawa’s Bright Future, should merit special attention, belying its placidly bobbing subject matter by cruising at great white speeds.
This is CapCas’ first new issue in nearly a decade and the power violence elder statesmen have lost nary a step from their fleet footed early days, turning in their best sounding effort ever on this split with Appalachian bangers Hellnation, who have also soldiered on in the finest fastcore style for the last 20 years despite changing tastes.
While both bands’ golden years date back to Bush Pere, the transition to the administration of Bush Fils has clearly posed no existential challenge for either outfit, ripping through Dubya’s legacy of bloodshed, dubious constitutional interpretations and religiosity in punk spats played at cocaine heartbeat speeds.
Both bands essentially – and ably – work the same style, no-time-for-subtlety shots of accelerated punk that repeatedly jab to the kidneys with no respite over 16 minutes and 21 songs. They’re like aging boxers who can still show the young guns how to wear an opponent down with a relentless flurry of jabs rather than trying to land one spectacular haymaker.
With all the retro love power violence seems to be getting this year, it’s awesome to see two of the style’s progenitors surf the crest of belated appreciation without any whiff of cash-in trend-hopping or cheap nostalgia.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Blast(beat) From the Past: Gigantic Brain

Gigantic Brain
Invasion Discography
Fuck this (amusing) exchange on Metal Archives; grind is metal and Gigantic Brain is grind as all fuck.
I have a real soft spot for drum machine grind bands and short of Enemy Soil and Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Gigantic Brain is the style’s leading practitioner (what’s in the water in Virginia?). While Nintendo-core is likely to evoke horrific images of Horse the Band, Gigantic Brain stripmines the classic console brilliantly, offering up grinding covers of Shinobi and Castlevania themesongs while seamlessly incorporating the same eight-bit spirit into original Mars Attacks-infused songs about anal probes and cattle mutilation. The Brain also leaped ahead of the digital music revolution, releasing an EP exclusively on the web before it was collected here.
With a new album, World, (tentatively) set for release this winter, there is no better time to exhume this underrated platter from the Brain. The songs may lack Nosebleed’s catchy, psychotic edge or Enemy Soil’s political bark and an hour of digital grind will try even my patience, but Gigantic Brain has its own infectious sense of fun, deftly weaving the throwback (NES and back 1950s flying saucer films) with cybernetic pillage and purge at land-speed record BPMs.
The perfect soundtrack to a round of Destroy All Humans.

Monday, December 22, 2008

G&P review: Black Ships

Black Ships
New Romance for Kids
The globe is infested with literally thousands of lesser punk and metal bands that would gladly walk the left hand path or swim against the everflowing stream for a snatch of the cyclopean citadel wall-thick guitar tone that bleeds out Omens’ opening song, “No Eulogy.”
Quebecois hardcore pirates Black Ships follow up their staggering Low EP, released earlier this year, with one of the finest hardcore records of the year, an amalgam of His Hero is Gone, a beefier Ghostlimb and every batch of basement kids who ever resolved to play short, fast and loud. Excise the melody from Ghostlimb or the Converge-isms from Trap Them and you have Black Ships, who work the same simple but convincing territory with an intelligence and sincerity that’s in far too short a supply in modern punk.
Antepenultimate song “The End,” a clear standout, rips through a decimated Grecian landscape like a scourge of slavering, yowling banshees, driving pestilence and disease before them like cattle.
The frontman’s frigid croak, which would find a welcoming home on many a norsk black metal record, drives icicles into what’s left of your psyche while the boys in the band scrape nightmares from the inside of your skull, leaving behind a 25 minute path of destruction to which Cthulhu, Pinhead or Nicke Anderson would proudly lay claim. It would be indecent and obscene for this to remain clandestine.

Friday, December 19, 2008

G&P review: Trap Them

Trap Them
Seizures in Barren Praise
Trap Them’s episodic songwriting is a little like leafing through the diary of some emotionally shattered zombie apocalypse survivor. Just sub in fear, anxiety, misanthropy and Oedipal outrage for a crushing mob of shambling, necrotic brain munchers.
Days 19 through 31 on Trap Them’s third release finds our survivor no better off than before, if not a little worse, as vocalist Ryan McKinney shouts into the void over the riotous amalgam of Tragedy, Entombed and Converge his co-conspirators bang out beneath him. Fair warning, I’m about to coin a really horrific genre name, but Trap Them, right now, are the leading lights of the recent 'Tombedcore movement, Frankensteining Wolverine Blues’ booty shaking death ‘n’ roll to crusty, furious d-beat.
Kurt Ballou channels prime Sunlight Studios circa 1991 in his production work, swiping the fabled studio’s trademarked pitch black guitar tone and turning it into a blunt object to batter the listener into emotional submission without ever sacrificing subtlety or clarity.
While Seizures in Barren Praise largely expands on the palette Trap Them nearly perfected on last year’s Séance Prime, the band does stretch their limbs, exploring new moods on “Mission Convincers,” which swipes Grief’s junkie stumble for a seven minute body blow session to the Torso.
While I hope McKinney’s day to day life isn’t the psychological Walking Dead episode it appears on record, I hope he never manages to outrun the stumbling horrors that propel some of the finest hardcore being made today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

G&P review: Aaritila

…Ennen Huomista, Tana Tuomiopaivana
Feral Ward
Pity the poor Finnish site moderator. Anglophones moderate obnoxious commenters through the art of disemvowelling, but that’s quite a task when your native tongue is largely consonant free.
The genius of disemvowelling is it allows a troll’s thoughts to still be parsed, albeit with effort. But say I were to disemvowel the title of Aaritila’s latest Finn-core assault, all you’d be left with is Nnn Hmst Tn Tmpvn by Rtl. Not really much to go by there.
Not that I’d want to disemvowel a d-beat outing this enjoyable. Featuring members of Totalitar and Riistetyt and with nary a band photo where somebody isn’t sporting a Discharge tee, that probably tells you all you need to know about Aaritila.
But in between all the d-beating off, Aaritila channel a swinging core of Stooges style rock and roll.
“Totalitaarinen Valvonta” may be an anthem to an uprising of the proletariat, but its solo could have been lifted from a dance friendly early Social Distortion LP while “Kuolleen Kukanmaa’s” low end will shake the foundations of oppressive capitalist oligarchies and and booties.
Aaritla no double hold sincere beliefs about the role of power structures in every day life, but clearly that doesn’t mean the music has to be dour. Not only will the revolution be televised, but it will have a beat and you’ll be able to dance to it. I give it an 85.

Monday, December 15, 2008

G&P review: Confusion

Roaring out of Medellin, Colombia, right about the time Pablo Escobar caught a bullet with his teeth, lo-fi/no-fi grindcore trio Confusion set down 60 second slabs of misery and poverty chronicling life in one of the most violent corners of the globe at the time.
Demos’lition, their discography-cum-demo round up, bulldozes through the songs chronologically, which may be daunting if you’re expecting niceties like clarity and the ability to recognize instruments. If you can soldier through the earliest material, which sounds like someone shouting from the next room over a wash of cymbals (if this were black metal it would be necro as all fuck and original copies would be selling for absurd prices on eBay), toward the better produced middle of Confusion’s compilation, you begin to hear what it was these Columbians were bringing to the table under all that recorded-on-a-boombox-with-low-batteries-in-a-garage murk.
“Ultra Violet Ray” is a Discordance Axis style take on the two second song that owes a debt to the many versions of “Dystopia” while “Dirty War” may be the only effective paring of grindcore and Gregorian chant in, like, ever.
While I dig the musical Napalm-isms, I’m kind of bummed by the rampant Napalm-isms on the lyrical front (and really, who pays attention to grind lyrics, so this is a small complaint). Coming from such a unique background compared to the largely American/European/Japanese axis of most grind, I was hoping Confusion would spit bile about issues more local. Instead, from what I can glean (lyrics not included), the band was a tad too comfortable to wear one more rut in the well trodden path of grind cliché (“Nazi Skin Shit,” “Ignorant and Proud,” etc.). But again, a small complaint.
If you prefer your noise on the less produced end of the scale, Confusion are an interesting tip toe through South America’s neglected grind offerings.

Friday, December 12, 2008

G&P review: F.A.M.

Scrotum Jus
Despite what I hear about Tina Fey’s dead on Sara Palin, I haven’t wasted 90 minutes of my life being bored by Saturday Night Live since Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey were both on staff (which, in itself, dates me in ways almost as frightening as the amount of hair I find in my comb every morning). All that pointless prologue is merely my way of excusing myself should anybody think I’m trying to make some trendy-four-years-ago observation when I say, was that just a fucking cowbell I heard in the middle of “Driller,” an otherwise respectable grindcore tune from Poland’s F.A.M.?
It takes a lot to distinguish yourself in a musical scene as whose frontiers are as deliberately limited as grindcore. In a vain bid to somehow distinguish their unique strain of punk-meets-metal-in-a-basement noise from everyone else with the same idea, some bands simply rename the style, as though we wouldn’t notice. Agathocles pass off their Napalmisms as mincecore; Japan’s leading grind export, 324, dub their music darkness grind; and Kataklysm remain the sole purveyors of northern hyperblast. Furor Arma Ministrat, as they call themselves, bill their particular brand of blastbeat racket as “Panzer Grind” (an odd notion given Poland's 20th Century history with panzers). But it’s just grind and it will take more than a new nomenclature to separate F.A.M.’s love of pig squeal vocals and beer hall drum beats from the crowded hordes. Compounding the problem, there are occasional flashes of crafty songwriting that leave me salivating like Pavlov’s proverbial pup. The skipping riff that propels the latter half of “Tapping Nerves” is more catching than ebola at a Jack in the Box drive through window. When they click, as with their savage cover of The Exploited’s “Beat the Bastards,” F.A.M. begin to live up to their panzer grind tag.
If F.A.M. could trim the lard and double down their effort to write decent songs (lose the cowbell), I could be all over this. For now, it’ll land in my occasional listen pile.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blast(beat) From the Past: Gore Beyond Necropsy

Gore Beyond Necropsy
Like John Waters (whose movies are repeatedly sampled) directing an Anal Cunt video in a sleazy Shinjuku train station bathroom, Gore Beyond Necropsy’s out of print Relapse effort is a total train wreck of perversion and malfeasance set to some of the shortest grind tunes this side of Agoraphobic Nosebleed.
Don’t be fooled by the medical oddities art work, these Nipponese bangers are not same lame ass gore/pr0n puked out by self-congratulatory morons around some of the worst music imaginable. Instead, GBN gleefully wallow in all things deliberately retarded, grotesque and scatological though 59 songs pumped out in less than half an hour with a concise, lo-fi attack. If you dig Japanese grind and wish CSSO were just a tad more straight forward, you either already scrupulously collect GBN albums or you have a major hole in your collection.
Given Relapse’s current status as one metal’s most aggressive major labels, it’s refreshing to remember Matt Jacobson et al used to be just one more upstart scrounging the globe for undiscovered gems. While this out of print effort may not quality as a bona fide lost classic, it’s a must for fans of Seth Putnam and J-grind. Hell, it’s one of the first CDs I stole … umm …. permanently borrowed when I was working radio in college.
If you don’t believe me, those mind-reading bastards at Cephalochromoscope beat me to the post (with downloadable goodness) on this one and pretty much said all you need to know. So head over there and give it a listen.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Carcass Word of the Day Calendar: Dec. 8, 2008

I think it’s pretty much a truism that Carcass fans go in for gory entertainment, but who knew the Catholics had the same perverse inclination? And who knew they beat Eli Roth to it by about 300 years?
While the Holy See today is more likely to be known for
impeding medical progress, letting the little children cum unto them and deny its store of magic crackers to people who think what a stranger does with their blastocyst is none of the goddamned business.
But it turns out there was a time nearly three centuries earlier when Catholics – at lest one Irish priest – actually had a fairly morbid sense of humor. Carcass may have thought themselves witty for the baby-devouring shenanigans of
Symphonies of Sickness banger “Embryonic Necropsy and Devourment,” but Irish priest Jonathan Swift had already been there and done that in his scathing 1729 “A Modest Proposal,” which suggests the destitute Irish eat their kids to stave off hunger and reduce their financial burdens.
“A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.”
I’m already cruising

...Aborted gestation...foetal mutilation......
Abortive secretions...embryonic fermentation...
Your crotch spawning afterbirth
A congealing sprog basted in cess
Palpitations spew a foetus
Sprawling in this mess...
Flowing lochial discharge
Of copious womb lining torn
The mutilated still-born mangled
By the whiplashing umbilical cord...
Mixing together post-natal juices
The dead infant used as stock
Slurping this horrendous concoction
Eat the cervical slop...
Ladling out aborted debris
Oozing guts chomped in your maw
The caesating premature baby
Nurtured in post-partum gore...
Suck cess on a plate, lick its pus from a spoon
Gnaw at rashes on a dish, munch on the expelled womb...
Its testicles incised - the foetus liquidized
Whisk the parasite - the gross remains baptized...
Stagnant placenta and smelly fluids
The stiffening dead babe's crib
Disemboweling and gutting
Grating bone and rib
Fragile limbs pulverized
Dismemberment is so cruel
Soggy organs and parturient broth
Give piquance to this sickly gruel...
Mixing together post-natal juices
The dead infant used as stock
Slurping this horrendous concoction
Eat the cervical slop...
Ladling out aborted debris
Oozing guts chomped in your maw
This ceasating premature baby
Nurtured in post-partum gore...
Drink bile from a cup, gulp its phlegm from a pot
Eat mucus on a saucer, choke on the embryonic clots...

Sprog – n. a child or a new military recruit.
Lochial – adj. of or relating to the liquid discharge following birth.
Caesetating – I found a reference to this word here, but I can’t glean any definition from it. So have at it.
Parturient – adj. In labor.
Piquance – adj. a spicy flavor.

Friday, December 5, 2008

G&P review: End of All (How Swede It Is Part 6)

End of All
The Art of Decadence
Crimes Against Humanity
What better way to cap the end of all this sverige goodness the past two weeks than with End of All.
In a flash of (probably) unintended genius, End of All brilliantly summarized this whole Swedish d-beat shtick with the title of previous album Same Shit But Different.
Now, I loves me some Swedish punk as much as the next guy, but if you randomly grabbed a disc from my Scandinavian shelf of CDs and forced me to name the band at gunpoint, there’s about a 50/50 chance I’d end up with my gray matter decorating the wall. Not to be pejorative, but at its base, every band is just serving up the same shit but different and End of All, who turn out another enjoyable but workmanlike half hour of dun datting are no exception.
Astute heraldry geeks will likely guess these Swedish d-beaters’ lineage once they realize the griffons rampant gracing The Art of Decadence’s cover are the inverse of the wolves rampant Wolfpack employed for Allday Hell.
Featuring former members of the Wolfpack/Wolfbrigade collective, End of All play the same style but just lack that special something that help set them apart. The songs are solidly written and well played, the production is passable (though a tad flatter than Same Shit), which make End of All an enjoyable listen but nothing that deviates from the (wolf)pack of clamoring d-beat hordes.
The Art of Decadence lacks the oomph and searing, vaguely Gothenberg-ish guitar leads (think Live the Storm) that helped propel Same Shit and on the whole sounds more muted and uniform in both production and composition, making it an album that fades from memory moments after it ends. I’m hoping this is just a temporary setback for a band that has easily held its own against scene leaders like Skitsystem and Disfear in the past.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

G&P review: Avskum (How Swede It Is Part 5)

Uppror Underifran
Given the state of my retirement account these days, I think Swedish punkers Avskum just may be on to something about the evils of that kapitalismens and masskonsumtions stuff. (Yes, I know I just used that 401(k) joke already, so fucking sue me.
In the halcyon days of the Obama era (i.e. before he actually assumes real power and is forced to compromise and make the tough choices that will inevitably abrade some of his sheen), I find it highly doubtful an army of disaffected punks will rise up in revolution and fight it out in the streets a la the Battle in Seattle. In fact, in the age of flash mobs, hactivism, Republicans suddently seeing the light of socialism and the world’s recent, universal hope-gasm, the very idea seems sort of anachronistic and downright quaint. Not that I’m blaming Avskum. The d-beat wielding Swedes plopped this Molotov cocktail of a disc in our laps a couple months before America woke up from its eight year hangover and suddenly remembered all those values we're supposed to embody. Uppror Underifran is high quality d-beat from a collection of veterans sharing a single focus and playing with a comfortable groove.
“Kapitalismens Yttersta” starts throwing bottles and sticks and riot cops right out of the gate, setting a pounding tempo that the rest of the album follows like a sled as songs are shouted out during a street by street running battle with the law. All of the usual suspects take a few well deserved truncheon swings to the noggin: patriarchy, bankers, political weasels and nationalist blowhards. Nothing you haven’t heard already.
The fact that its so backwards looking, rather than being a defect, is actually a mark in Uppror Underifran’s favor. This is the comfort food of d-beat, something that brings joy because of its unabashed simplicity. Avskum tidily package the nostalgia of different age when the battle lines were clearly drawn and everyone could strap on a black bandana and chant slogans outside of a G-7 conference with the belief that the world's evil could be slain called to the carpet if the mass of humanity would simply rise up, conveniently forgetting simple majorities in this country, at least, had voted for Reagan, Nixon and Dubya with a smile on their face. But that's a problem for another day. For now just enjoy your recurring fantasies of toppling the capitalist power structure.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Blast(beat) From the Past: Asterisk* (How Swede It Is Part 4)

Three One G
We hold these truths to be self evident: all men are created equal but Discordance Axis has none.
And while The Inalienable Dreamless is an unfuckwithable milestone for grind (see top right) and should be a cultural touchstone anthropologists will reference in a more enlightened age, surprisingly, Discordance Axis are not one of those bands that led to wholesale cloning (though that may finally be changing).
That has probably contributed to the band’s singular stature, and Umea’s Asterisk* were certainly one of the first to nick Chang-san’s signature sound. These three Swedes were one of the few bands to take Discordance Axis’ shtickfor a spin through a graduate philosophy course, giving it a thoroughly postmodern sheen.
Rather than manga and sci fi novels, Asterisk* roared their sleek, slithering grind straight through the world’s weightiest questions, addressing animal rights, Shakespeare, religion and philosophy with a thoughtfulness that belied the band’s brevity.
Dogma, the band’s discography, brings the kind of tunes that would have seared themselves into Johnny Mneumonic’s permanent recollection. Scope the way “An Angel Collapsing’s” insectile skitter hearkens back to Rob Marton’s “Ruin Trajectory” string scrapes. Asterisk* also show they have no fear of blithely traversing grind’s well posted boundaries to dabble in Euro techno dance music on the brief but accurately titled “The Anomly.”
While their DA debt is also self evident, Asterisk* were the plucky clone that could, taking Jersey’s finest export’s signature sound and bending it to their own profound purposes; not so much wholesale copyright infringement as sincere homage.