Thursday, June 27, 2013

G&P Review: Dead Church/Suffering Mind

Dead Church/Suffering  Mind
7 Degrees

So I says to myself, "Self, bands like Dead Church are the reason you keep getting out of bed in the morning. The song 'I Want Nothing" has everything you ask from a gloriously grisly grind tune. This Michigan trio quartet sounds like somebody royally pissed off the G'mork from The Neverending Story and if you come any closer he'll rip you to shreds. Self," I said, "Dead Church pack an insane amount of aggression into a miserly 56 seconds of minigun guitars and skull thumping drums that crash and careen like a room of ADHD toddlers on a Red Bull binge. For as short as the song is, Dead Church manage to cram in several distinct movements, stuffing less than a minute full of variety that never slacks off on the attitude. Self," I said, "'I Want Nothing' is a practically perfect grind song. What more could I possibly ask from?"
"Flip the fucking record over, asshole," Self said.
"Holy fucking shit, Self, Suffering Mind are at the absolute apex of their powers. 'War Street/Wall Street' is like the very essence of the Polish band distilled down to concentrated hatred. Dead Church are fan-fucking-tastic, but Suffering Mind probably turned in the sharpest 54 seconds of their keenly honed career. You hear that, Self? That is the sound of inevitability crashing down on your dimpled dome. It's the concerted evil of the world being barfed back on society, a putrid bile melange of everything venal, corrupt and compromised. It's the hatred slime from Ghostbusters 2 turned into weaponized audio.
"My only complaint, Self," I said, "is what the fuck is up with just a single song from each band on this 5-inch EP. Because this blue ball tingler demands a full release."
For once, myself and I agreed.

[Full disclosure: the label sent me a review copy.]

Monday, June 24, 2013

G&P Review: Spewtilator

Inhale Awaits
Boris Records

Inhale Awaits is like walking through a party and guzzling, snorting and popping every pharmaceutical shoved into your greedy drug hole and letting the kaleidoscope of highs crash through your CNS. Spewtilator brew up Metal Blade-era Slayer thrash (as if the parody cover weren't enough of a tip off), crossover intensity and grindcore's patented high/low vocal tradeoffs over three songs that revel in everything fast and pilled up.
Spewtilator start their gonzo trip through the realms of recreational pharmacopeia with an attack of "Xanax Fury." Clearly the anti-anxiety drug, obviously being taken without a qualified prescription, is not doing its job because the song is a rager that runs like a blower and eats like a grinder as it goes all epic mid-80s thrash up in your grill. It perfectly slides into the most Slayerish of the batch, "Burn in Hell," complete with multiple atonal Hanneman/King solos. Vocals aside, you could probably slap the song on to Hell Awaits as a long lost demo track that didn't quite make the final cut without too much of a pause. Flipping the wax, Spewtilator spelunk their way through an extra sepulchral tour "Into the Crypts of Rays" just to round out their obvious influences.
I know retro thrash was the king of the kegger about four years ago and has pretty much partied itself out at this point, but Spewtilator drag knuckledragging metal far enough into the 21st Century that nothing sounds dated or stale or derivative. Inhale Awaits is an EP that takes nothing seriously, particularly itself. It's just a damn good time. Take a deep puff because hell is just going to have to wait for the party to end first.

[Full disclosure: the band sent me a review copy.]

Thursday, June 20, 2013

G&P Review: Gowl

Self Released

Gowl is either derogatory Irish slang for the vajayjay or a disused synonym for a long, harrowing howl. I think this Connecticut trio is open to either interpretation as they dash off a solid seven inches of songs that should set a-thumpin' the hearts of Backslider aficionados. Trafficking in bondage and dominance imagery ( and a song all about Mick Harris!), Gowl turn the rhetorical tables on every sadistic bully, asshole boss, rule-bound cop, and fickle girlfriend that ever fucked the band over with tight-wound grindcore tales intended to raise welts.
Gowl grind through wave after glorious wave of feedback, searing and spitting and snarling through a wall of wondrous noise. Underneath all that keening, drummer Kyle Clements powers through the songs by alternating snare rolls with his blasts, adding a different texture to Gowl's otherwise traditional breed of grind. Everything is noisy and scabbed, open wounds and loose sutures. Second song, "Escalate This...," lives up to its name by pushing Gowl's grind to a dervish pace. The trio even play rope-a-dope with the mid-side slow down of "Can't Scream With Your Mouth Full," a vertiginous freefall moment in between  whipsaw grind. And all of that's just side fucking A. Flip the wax and do it all over again.
The whole EP sounds likes the screeching car brakes before an inevitably fatal wreck. This isn't the band you look to if variety or innovation are your thing. Instead, Gowl deliver just what they promise on the package: music for "grinders, freaks and weirdos."

[Full disclosure: the band sent me a review copy.]

Monday, June 17, 2013

Insect Warfare

I know this one is going to be a stretch from the outset: defending one of grind's most reviled acts of the last decade. But I fucking love The Locust. The bug be-masked California spazzcore space aliens sounded like David Cronenberg directing a remake of Tetsuo the Ironman from a script by William Gibson that was edited in Edgar Wright's trademark staccato chop style.
What I find fascinating is that for as much shit as The Locust took, most of their tools were commonplace: marrying Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s penchant for deliberate provocation and awkward confrontation with Gasp’s chemical-colored, free-form psych-violence turbulence. Yes, they often get tagged as harbingers of the dreaded "white belt grin," but The Locust, clad in their sublimely absurd bug suits, had so much more going on than the multitude of spazzy also-rans ever conceived of.
My library of The Locust albums has a couple small holes, but here's an album by album discussion of why the band is worthy of your respect.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

G&P Review: Nothing More to Eat

Nothing More to Eat
Nothing More to Eat

Having not fully gorged themselves on the grind with Eat'n, Finnish gourmands Nothing More to Eat heap high their cafeteria tray with another heaping helping on their thrashtastic self-titled full length. For good measure, opener "Comfort Zone" melts an extra layer of Velveta goofery over the top for a gooey extra layer of the weird, kicking things off with crashing mariachi horns. Because why the fuck not?
While Nothing More to Eat still give a respectable showing in grindcore's eternal footrace, the soul of this album is bonded (by blood?) to  thrash. That was always lurking in the band's speedy picking style, but this shot Nothing More to Eat give their thrash impulse free rein to romp around and take a few headers off the stack of Marshalls. Loosening up gives songs about zombies, death in space and infernal seamen a swing that traditional grind just doesn't have. While the thrash is prominent, Nothing More to Eat aren't just raining blood. They've still got grind in their back pocket and they're not afraid to drop the Scandinavian-style crust on "Skate N' Die" or even whip out a skronk jazz sax solo on "There's No Glory in Space."
While every pimply teen who ever purchased a denim vest and some puffy white high tops at the local vintage store seems to have started a thrash band the past few years, Nothing More to Eat succeed in that realm because I don't think they set out to make a thrash record. Nothing about the album feels artificial or premeditated even if it won't be displacing Beneath the Remains on the best of thrash list just yet. It's just something that seems to flow out of their playing without a second thought. That's what makes it work.

[Full disclosure: the band sent me a download.]

Monday, June 10, 2013

G&P Review: Head Cleaner

Head Cleaner
Of Worms and Men
United Guttural

Thanks to the cratering Greek economy, grinders Head Cleaner must have been bedding down in a filthy squat in the years since last offering Resistance, Determination, and the Sheer Will to Overcome. Latest effort Of Worms and Men pretty much reeks of communal bottles of cheap wine and dreadlocked hair. The crust-to-grind ratio on Of Worms and Men plants Head Cleaner pretty squarely in Resistant Culture territory with occasional aspirational flashes of Rotten Sound during their stronger moments.
While the new found punk soul gives Head Cleaner some new found urgency for their didactic breed of agitprop (songs like “It’s Now Safe to Turn Off Your Mind” and “War is a Product of Imperialism”), Of Worms and Men is held back by an over-reliance on repetition and a lack of distinction between one crusty-grindy shoutalong song and the next. Eight of these 14 songs stretch well past the two minute mark and could have stood some pruning. For example, long stretches of second banger “One More Nail in the Coffin of Peace” largely consist of repeating “I have a war inside my head” over and over. The song loses some punch through sheer repetition and that early in an album it becomes worrisome.  The insistence on repetition also mars Head Cleaner’s attempts to step out of their grind box. “Nothing to Worry About” stumbles along on a fractured riff that could have been lifted from cyber-metallers Obliveon’s back catalog but endlessly shouting “no worry” hampers the song’s impact.
I thought Resistance, Determination, and the Sheer Will to Overcome showed promise until the atrocious final song went off the ambient rails and once again some judicious editing could elevate Of Worms and Men from a decent album to something much stronger.

[Full disclosure: the band sent me a download.]

Thursday, June 6, 2013

G&P Review: Mesrine/Sposa in Alto Mare

Mesrine/Sposa in Alto Mare
Grindfather Productions

This Grinders split couldn’t be more stark in contrasting opposites. In the first corner we have Canadian spree killer enthusiasts Mesrine, whose high protein diet of classic grind tropes gets repacked into seven songs of aggression and nothing but aggression. Then there’s the chaotic three ring circus being offered by Italians Sposa in Alto Mare, who Cirque du Soleil their way through every convolution of spastic grind, weird noise and cheeky mockery they can find without a hint of filtering or editing.
Like an ADHD toddler on a Pixie Stix binge, Sposa in Alto Mare pack the split’s second half with a lumpy amalgam of surf rock country shtick on “Una Corsa di un Cow-Boy” and King Diamond-esque wails ofn“Black Metal Latin Lover” and “Inno Dell’ Heavy Metal & Dell’ Hard Rock” and every musical oddity in between.  The only time they catch their breath and come back to earth is to rip through a cover of Agathocles’ “Kurose.”  It’s a Willy Wonka world where everything is painted in bright but contrasting colors with ideas being flung out at dizzying speed but with very little connective tissue, making Sposa in Alto Mare’s side a hallucinogenic endurance test. Whether it’s good, bad or indifferent as a listening experience will be a Rorschach test of your musical preferences.
Mesrine’s 90 second shards of shrapnel grind, with nods to modern greats like Insect Warfare and Nasum, comes off looking so much more potent by comparison simply by virtue of being directed. There’s a great snap to the snare drum that makes their side of the split pop as they gnaw through songs about apocalypse kook Harold Camping, the Grim Sleeper murders and the violent underbelly of so-called civilization. There’s nothing flashy to the way they stomp the accelerator and never let up for their whole side, but by contrast it’s a welcome break to the over-caffeinated exuberance of Sposa in Alto Mare.

[Full disclosure: Sposa in Alto Mare sent me a review copy.]

Monday, June 3, 2013

G&P Review: Detroit

Reality Denied
Grindcore Karaoke

Splitting wax with Robocop is proving to have been an instructive, if not pivotal moment, for Alberta’s Detroit. Every release since has been an evolutionary leap as Detroit comes to better grips with their modern twist on grind and power violence. For their first long player, Reality Denied, the band tries their hand at closing with not just one but two different soundscapes, including the title track, that nod back to splitmates Robocop, even if neither really captures that same unsettling Cronenberg/Tsukamoto vibe that undergirds the Maine bastards' best work. Whether it’s the shrieking “Stand In” or the feedback frazzled windup of “Exhaustion,” the extra girth of a full length gives Detroit the space to play and as a result Reality Denied is probably the band’s most assured and confident release to date.
Wonderfully shitty coffee can snare beats rattle against vocals that nibble at the heels of J. Randall and J.R. Hayes. Driving it all, buried in the live in the room mix, is a slashing guitar that whips at the other participants like a dogsled driver bringing the lash. The whole thing rides that kamikaze line between collapsing under its own weight and punching through your wall to grab you by the throat. It’s a precarious position Detroit have staked out, but when they cut loose into the blasting end piece of “Alone” or the way the stumbling, staccato “Passion Devoid” slams into the grinding “Leviathan” synergy elevates their garage punk thrashings. Detroit have always impressed me, but like their namesake city’s finest muscle cars, the band has a found another gear and really revved themselves up for .
Reality Denied