Saturday, June 28, 2008

G&P review: GridLink

Amber Gray
Hydra Head
You have only one question, if you’re anything like me: Is this the second coming of Discordance Axis? The short answer, no.
While GridLink, Jon Chang’s latest grind outing following seven years of silence since DA’s legendary The Inalienable Dreamless, superficially traffics in the same microbursts of rabid grind that were his former cohorts’ stock in trade, don’t mistake this twitchy beast for a guy rehashing his salad days.
All caffeine and wasabi, cyberpunk tropes by way of Masamune Shirow manga and PlayStation RPGs, GridLink carries over many of Chang’s favored themes, but set against altogether burlier music, an earthier, rawer assault than the silicon smooth Discordance Axis
Despite a few similarities, GridLink emerges as its own critter in just a few listens to this 12 minute, 11 trackm which neuroshock takes its name from British cyberpunk Neal Asher’s 2001 debut novel, a rather hackishly written mash of William Gibson retread and Dune space opera notable only for an alarming prevalence of grammatical errors in a professionally edited tome. (Seriously, were all the good Snow Crash references already taken, Chang?) But none of that matters when the spiraling, receding riff that closes the Final Fantasy VII-inflected “The Jenova” invades your ear holes and starts overwriting your DNA.
Where Rob Marton’s riffs were slick grindcore starfighters, guitarist Matsubara’s songsmithing is far more insectile and predatory, angular lower register assaults studded with spikes and gnarls. Under that, drummer Bryan Fajardo favors staccato patterns with copious snare drum rolls. As always, Chang’s vocal scrapings, staying well in the upper octaves the whole outing, cut through the racket like the death wail of a rusted out mech.
After spending the better part of the last decade dabbling in anime and video game production, Chang has found the will to grind again, may the Matrix be praised. GridLink, like the molar loosening thrash piss take Hayaino Daisuke that proceeded this year, prove the man still sits atop the roster of hot shit console cowboys running cyberspace.


Anonymous said...

Great review.There's definetly something "more" to Chang's grind.

Bill Willingham IV, Esquire said...

Although I love DA and HD, it took some time before I finally dove into GridLink.

I'll admit that my biggest hangup was the short playing time. I finally got the hell over it, reminded myself that "Reign in Blood" has had similar criticism aimed at it and is, well, "Reign in Blood." I took another look at the approximately 15 minute playing times of both Assuck's "Misery Index" and Trash Talk's s/t, remembered I loved both of those, and said fuck it.

While listening, I was reminded of something Dave Mustaine said. He said something about "wasting riffs" on his early albums by cramming them chock full of awesome riffs which he could have held back for later albums. In essence, his plan (and that of many metal bands) is to write an album that has enough riffage to get it sold, but not to overexert themselves.

I'm glad bands like GridLink exist, and cram every fucking second of this short record with enough riffs to last half of a lesser band's career. They're not worried about the next one, they're playing like they may never get to again.