Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Words Fail Me

So you've accepted that most grind lyrics are various degrees of awful. What's an enterprising young band to do if they don't want to embarrass themselves with bad poetry and aren't willing to go full on instrumental? One option is to skip the lyrical morass entirely and try to pair your song to a great sample that will serve in the stead of your own words. Yes, I've bitched about haphazard use of samples before, but this is a cool and tricky move that, as far as I'm concerned, isn't used nearly enough. It's one that takes far more thought and planning than crapping out another bit of Full Metal Jacket dialogue to start your record.
It's tricky because you have to identify the right sample and, when it's done best, construct your song around it, timing the music to the sample's rhythms and pacing. However, if a band can nail that perfect pacing, it's a really cool effect.
Here are three pretty good examples.

ASRA "Untitled"

The dearly departed ASRA gave full expression to the death half of their death-grind perfection with "Untitled," which rides the corporate condemnation of its sample like a death-doom roller coaster of paranoia and dislocation. It's the perfect sample for an era when the country is inflamed with anti-corporate, populist uprising sentiment. This could be the soundtrack to Occupy Wherever. "Untitled" is a Jason Voorhees of a song, implacably plodding along until its conclusion, refusing to alter its deliberate pace but still, somehow manages to sneak up to you and plant its political machete firmly in your cranium at the end.

Wormrot "Condemnation"

"Condemnation" is a bit more haphazard of an effort but still worth discussion. Wormrot find a great tinfoil hat of a schizophrenic for a sample, but the ranting gets away from the music a bit. A better pairing of the rhythm of the words to the music would have shown it off to better effect. Wormrot later went back an added their own lyrics and vocals to "Condemnation," but I like the earlier version with the psychotic sample raving about government mind control.

Who's My Saviour "Save Your Breath"

Who's My Saviour's awesome "Save Your Breath" plops you right into the claustrophobic space suit with Dave as he confronts 2001's psychologically unstable Hal 9000. The churning, stonerish grind adds to the atmosphere, becoming the adrenal heartbeat and panicked breathing of a man in full fight or flight. It's probably the most perfect use of a movie sample in grindcore. Everything about this song just clicks. The pathos of poor, distraught Hal perfectly rides the cresting waves of the music, which gives emotional and musical impetus to the proceedings. This is the song that convinces more band needs to give the sample-in-lieu-of-lyrics approach a whirl.


Shanetera said...

I'm surprised there's not Graf Orlock on here.
Not that I'm really at all familiar with them, I just know this is their thing.

Andrew Childers said...

they don't craft whole songs around samples. they sing the dialogue from movies. but yeah, i considered that.


Are you familiar with Masakari? Last year's full length, "The Prophet Feeds", ends with a really cool instrumental centered around a soldier testimony.

You can listen to it here:

Perpetual Strife said...

How about Dystopia's "Now and Forever" with a spoken word sample of Eckhart Tolle. I think that's the pinnacle of songs built around a sample.

That Wormrot song sounds just like the ASRA song. both are boring =(

Interesting premise though, as you mentioned, bands like Graf Orlock and Spazz just have samples for shits and giggles, where as these in the spotlight are centered around the sample. Still, Dystopia did the best job of this, especially with the Tolle as well as the Breakfast Club one.

Andrew Childers said...

i wasn't familiar with that one, ze, but that's a pretty cool find. a little slow in developing for my taste, but definitely a great example of the art.