Monday, June 29, 2009

Blast(beat) from the Past: Asshole Parade

Asshole Parade
Say Goodbye
No Idea
Where does power violence end and fastcore begin? Is there even a difference? Man is the Bastard gave us power violence, but Max Ward, who anchored some of the earliest practitioners of the sound, prefers the term fastcore. I generally lump Capitalist Casualties in with power violence (sorry, Max) while I can definitely see where the term fastcore would apply to someone like Threatener.
Philosophical maundering on the shoals of pointless semantics aside, Florida’s Asshole Parade refer to themselves as fastcore, but they can hold their own with just about any power violence band as well, perfecting that never stale adrenaline rush of punk tunes blasted at speeds just shy of a blast beat on Say Goodbye.
Attempting to break the four minute mile in punk form, Asshole Parade rarely cross the sixty second mark as they blast through pit starters like “Puncture the Quiet Life” and “Mr. Rippington’s Revenge.” Even the Circle Jerks classic “Red Tape” gets a nice and thorough beatdown, complete with harmonica solo and sublimely cynical Keith Morris sample.
Oh sure, in true power violence/fastcore fashion there’s the occasional swamp water sludge foray like the barely repressed violence of the ominously looming “Through tha (W)ringer,” but that’s just an early album respite, a deep breath before sprinting through the remaining songs.
Fastcore? Power violence? Whatever the fuck you wanna call it, Asshole Parade do it pretty fucking well.

Friday, June 26, 2009

G&P Review: Success Will Write Apocalypse Across the Sky

Success Will Write Apocalypse Across the Sky
The Grand Partition and the Abrogation of Idolatry
Nuclear Blast
If nothing else, before I sliced the shrink wrap off of The Grand Partition and the Abrogation of Idolatry, Florida’s Success Will Write Apocalypse Across the Sky had already notched a fairly significant achievement: making me give a shit about a Nuclear Blast album for the first time since In Flames dropped Clayman nearly a decade prior.
But even that achievement pales when you realize every aspect of SWWAATS’s full length debut has been honed to lethality by precision death metal craftsmen with an added boost of Sunshine State death cred courtesy of producer James Murphy.
Guitarists Aaron Lee Haines and Ian Sturgill put the spazz in freak-core unit Bodies in the Gears in the Apparatus, but like their former frontman Joshua Vitale (who briefly belched life into tofu grinders Khann) the six string duo go for something meatier and more visceral and menacing than BitGotA’s light footed trickster rhythms. Unfortunately, they didn’t leave the prior band’s wordiness behind, though. “Automated Oration and the Abolition of Silence,” the album title and even the band’s name all suffer from a bad case of abomination of unnecessarily augmented composition monickers.
But I quibble because SWWAATS have developed one of the most intriguing personas currently working in death metal. From the snake handler freak show lyrics to Colin Marks’ robed menace art, SWWAATS conjure the same mystique that cloaked the earliest incarnation of Cancuckleheads Kataklysm. Lead off track “10,000 Sermons, 1 Solution” interweaves wailing Eastern melodies through the chunky death metal foreground.
Though the chunky death metal is the star, SWWAATS give sample swiper Jen Muse her moment to shine on the audio pastiche of “Retrograde and the Annointed.” SWWAATS also cleverly subverts doom cliché on death crawl “Colossus,” the shortest song on the album that clocks in on a respectably grind-paced 90 seconds.
My only other -- extremely minor -- complaint is frontman John Paul Coollett II's roar -- as visceral as it may be -- could have used a better supporting cast to provide some texture.
More than a tribute of Florida metal days gone by, The Grand Partition and the Abrogation of Idolatry is a vicious resuscitation of a near-moribund sound retooled for the 21st Century.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

World Downfall: Czech Republic

Shindy Productions
Uprise, a pack of grinders from the Czech Republic featuring members of Alienation Mental and Ahumado Granujo, are a deliberate throwback to a time when Terrorizer leaned heavily on L.A.’s uproarious punk scene and Repulsion were just a hopped up thrash band with a killer bootleg movie collection.
“Marches of Waste’s” emulsion of ear-piercing riffery and bulletproof drumming will have your checking World Downfall for bonus tracks while frontman Putti’s guttural roar on “Edition of Vomits” even passes for a good Oscar Garcia impression when it’s not warring with a Jeff Walker snarl.
While Terrorizer clearly graces the band’s collective album collection, Uprise have dug deep in the grab bag of grindcore influences. “Severance of the Soul” is all thrash picking and cymbal grabs while “Super Way How to Pass a Day” is all stuttered trip beats and rusted guitar murk. And when Uprise is not in full blast mode, songs “Burglar of Season” falls back on late ’80s-style hardcore pounding and songcraft.
After all of that, what better way to slap exclamation point on a album that pays tribute to a punk-metal hybrid classic than with a raging mosh-worthy cover of S.O.D.’s scene-unity clarion call, “United Forces?”

Monday, June 22, 2009

Blast(beat) from the Past: Hemdale

Rad Jackson
I love the art for the 2002 Hemdale compilation. Zombie films and LOLcats – two of my loves living together in happy harmony. Lucio Fulci would shed a maggoty tear if he were to erupt from his grave.
Excuse me while I hike my plaid pants up to my armpits and tell the kids to get the hell off my lawn, but the G&P motto might be “core before gore” because the pr0nz and misogyny of modern gore grind just lacks that movie geek sense of humor that infected the earliest splatter bands. (And really, if we’re honest, is there anything geekier than playing in a death metal band that pens ditties about evisceration and exhumation? Really?)
Ohio trio Hemdale, who shared splits with Exit-13 and Exhumed and whose Visceral Productions gave Nile their needed break, pulled a Herbert West on the festering remains of Carcass and Repulsion, reanimating not only their bodies but their cynical sarcastic humor as well. Try not to smile at songs like “It Burns and it Just Plain Smells Bad,” “Buried Under a Pile of Zombie Dung” or “Tribute to Anal Cunt Because We Think They’re Cool.”
You know the formula by heart because it’s been endlessly repeated over the last 20 years but rarely so well: Mike Lehmann’s grave digger guitar, an absolutely filthy bass tone from Matthew Rositano and Craig Rowe’s shoulder shocking blasts, add gurgle vox, a few bizarre samples and let fester.
You just know this is the kind of shit Cretin were jocking during band practices. Like the song goes, “Delicious Gory Fun.”

Friday, June 19, 2009

Blast(beat) from the Past: Biovore

Scientific Proof
Anyone who has bounced around the DMV metal circuit the last decade is guaranteed to have run into Sean Beasley at least once. Long before he got his (relatively) cushy day job thumping bass for Dying Fetus, anyone who haunted the late, great Phantasmagoria or more recently Jaxx most likely ran into Beasley holding down the low end for the epically minded Garden of Shadows, usually sharing the stage with the likes of Opeth if they were lucky or past their expiration date Amorphis and Moonspell if they weren’t.
Jumping even further in the WABAC machine, Beasley could be found toiling in relative obscurity for Sadistic Torment (with a young Sparky Voyles of Misery Index/Dying Fetus fame) and the Voivod-humping Biovore.
Scientific Proof, released on reigning scenester/Deceased magnate King Fowley’s Battlezone label, purports to tell a Dimension Hatross-style tale of scientists who seek to popularize their research into the deepest mysteries of existence only to see their work suppressed by shadowy agents of the government. Eluding their captors, the scientists eschew the peer-reviewed journal route and disseminate their findings in the form of 50 minutes (complete with about 15 minutes of pointless noise at the end) of Amebix crust punk pessimism and Voivodian astral projections.
Guitarist Shane Fuegel had a keen ear for songwriting with the endlessly spiraling power drill of “Assembly Line,” the slashing wind shear of “Digital” or the Iron Maiden-light riffing of “Atom Bomb,” which were only heightened by the overly trebly production. Frontman Vinnie Matthews (also ex-Sadistic Torment) had a Chloraspetic scrape rasp and drummer Eric Mayes (later to take Fowley’s seat during Deceased shows) had enough sense to keep it simple and provide Fuegel the space he needed to operate.
Given time and a better budget, Biovore might have had a wider audience, but as it is Scientific Proof will remain a time capsule documenting an obscure turning point in Maryland metal.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

G&P Review: Defeatist

Sharp Blade Sinks Deep into Dull Minds
Joel Stallings is a fucking beast who can rock a drum kit along side grind luminaries like Dave Witte and Bryan Fajardo. Despite my ongoing, undying, everlasting man-crush on Mike Hill, Stallings’ concussive yet textured playing was the secret sauce that powered the last pair of Anodyne albums. And just in case you need a refresher course, Defeatist’s “Snuffed” and “Loathe” give Stallings a palette to get all Jackson Pollack in bruised shades of black and purple.
After waxing ecstatic for the first few years of their existence, Defeatist has tag teamed with Willowtip to collect all of their vinyl splits and 7-inch solo shots onto one handy plastic platter with Sharp Blade Sinks Deep into Dull Minds. From the black and white street grit artwork through the deliberately low-fi battery, New Yorkers Stallings, ex-Anodyne collaborator Joshua Scott and ex-Kalibas guitarist Aaron Nichols conjure the glossed over scuzz of the city before Guiliani decided to turn Times Square into Disney Land.
Nichols’ high pitched vocals can be a bit monotone and repetitive over the course of a full length, but have no doubt the music is the star of Sharp Blade and the band run a rigged three card monte song writing game on our rube asses. The Scum-grade punk is simply a launching pad for sparks of experimentation like the cork screw, trepanning guitar of “Mouth of Night,” which could have been lifted from Anodyne’s Outer Dark. Or the loping, lilting textures of “End of Suffering” and slow burn simmer of opener “Terminal Existence.”
Ferocious, intelligent and backed by a drumming legend in the making, Defeatist are grindcore brain surgeons. Their blades are sharp and if this doesn’t at least merit a listen, then your brain is pretty dull.

[Full disclosure: Willowtip sent along a review copy.]

Monday, June 15, 2009

Blast(beat) From the Past: Blockheads

Shapes of Misery
I dare you to call France’s Blockheads cheese eating surrender monkeys. Go ahead. When you do, I’ll be standing about 20 feet off to the side so the blood doesn’t splash on my shoes.
Like Mumakil, with whom they’ve shared a split, Blockheads only come with one setting: scorched earth assault. Shapes of Misery, their fourth long player, is molar-cracking blasts and implacable dentist drill riffing from opening juggernaut “Bow Down” straight through the pulled grenade pin closing of “Business Intelligence.” What it may lack in songwriting variety, Shapes of Misery more than compensates with pure shrapnel. It’s 30 minutes of medical experiment guitar scrapings, septic tank bass, .50-caliber on the perimeter drumming and Holocaust survivor worthy rage.
“Silent” is a watertight 36 seconds of jaw jacking stop/start drumming while “Fuck off and Die!” is a roiling cauldron of beneath the surface bass concussion. The guitars get their moment to shine on “I’ve Been,” refracting off splintered glass guitar solo.
Like Mumakil, don’t be surprised if this very deserving French outfit finds a home on Relapse in the future as well.

Friday, June 12, 2009

World Downfall: Brazil

Every band that’s ever blasted a beat owes a royalty check to Napalm Death, and though they only recorded one true grind album, much has been made of all the Carcass clones swinging from that band’s dick. But pinpointing the influence of Terrorizer – the third head of Earache’s early grindcore Cerberus – is a little more subtle. It’s that peculiar admixture of punk exuberance and metallic precision that separates California’s finest from the hopped up hardcore and slaughterhouse floor scrapings of their transatlantic cousins. But the funny thing is just about every country seems to boast its own Terrorizer clone, so periodically I’ll pull one out of my magical closet o’grind to spotlight the myriad ways World Downfall continues to hold sway.

Expose Your Hate
Black Hole Productions
Expose Your Hate never want to leave you asking, What was that band’s name again? Just in case you have a short attention span they shout their moniker repeatedly throughout the first song, helpfully titled “Expose Your Hate.” That’s just good marketing.
Repping Brazil in the Terrorizer analog sweepstakes, Exposure Your Hate capture the same blend of metal heft and precision and punk as fuck attitude that made World Downfall such an instant classic. Sure the cast of villains seems not to have changed in the past 20 years with the usual suspects such as religion (“Bible Bullshit”), the nightly news (“The Media Virus”) and war (“Faces of War”) getting one more verbal flaying.
Hatecult’s music is just as delightful an atavistic mix of knuckle-dragging Terrorizer worship with gargle/screech Carcass vocal handoffs. Grammatically confounding album standout “Despise for Animal Life” tattoos your long term memory with a pinch harmonic stylus while “Appreciate the Dying Planet” is a bass-led, sunbaked blister of arid grind and sirocco-swept doom trudge death that boasts better double bass than a pre-Morbid Angel Pete Sandoval could muster. To mix up the tempos, closer “Inherent Human Cruelty” lashes charnel vocals to grave moss pacing. Led by a Full Metal Jacket sample, “Lies” pierces your skull with the efficiency of a 5.56 mm round.
There’s a whole lot of hate going on during Exposure Your Hate’s Hatecult. Won’t you join the cult?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

G&P Review: Afgrund

Vid Helvetets Grindar
I spent much of 2008 semi-coherently raving about how Afgrund may be the new Nasum, but the band’s sophomore slab and Willowtip debut, Vid Helvetets Grindar, tells me I was catastrophically wrong.
Afgrund may very well be Sweden’s answer to Kill the fucking Client.
The Nasum influence still looms (particularly in the Miezko/Anders-style vocal tradeoffs), but Afgrund (now trimmed to a trio) escalate the hostility with a more Americanized tinge of aggression and more prominent sludge passages. From the scorched earth artwork through the pyrotechnic assault of songs like “A Future Europe in Flames” and “A Burning Cross on Your Perfect Lawn,” everything on Vid Helvetets Grindar unites to create a holocaust that further refines Svarta Dagar. From needle drop to screeching halt, Afgrund maul their way through 30 minutes of elite Scandi-grind with a Texas-sized bite and one massive chip on their shoulder.
Afgrund nimbly dodge the sophomore slump by reaching deep into their arsenal to highlight new attacks, whether it’s the grind ‘n’ roll of “Loneslavar Sla Tillbaka” or the sinuous, serpentine leads of “The Great Cover Up Apocalypse” (which eradicates the tired Master of Reality retread of “The Empire earlier in the album, a rare misstep).
My only nitpick is that Panu Posti (who once again produced) annihilates the guitars in the mix with his turbine drumming (incidently, Svarta Dagar had the exact opposite problem). But the prominence only klieg lights the intricate fills and stutters of the raging “Inevitable Environmental Collapse” and “Borja Fran Noll.”
Quibbles aside, Vid Helvetets Grindar is an absolutely incendiary album that proves my faith was not misplaced. Look for Afgrund to move up a few more notches on 2009's year end count down.

[Full disclosure: Willowtip sent along a review copy.]

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sprechen sie Deutsch: Wojczech

Ferocious German foursome Wojczech were the first to lay title to the grindcore Sudetenland currently prowled by like-minded Poles Exit Wounds, staking their panzer-backed claim on sole long player, 2005’s Sedimente. The Germans’ grindcore arsenal was stocked with steampunk instruments of death that may not strike as precisely as today’s laser-guided munitions but are awesome for their curious design and sheer menacing bulk. Building on a foundation of From Enslavement to Obliteration, Wojczech only came with one setting: deadify.
“Superparadigma’s” early album appearance is a manifesto of drooling pitbull intensity and cage fight dynamics transcribed in about 2:20. Recognizing a national treasure, the Germans should immortalize drummer Heinz’s (who is also responsible for the Sedimente’s striking monotone gray artwork) face on the Brandenburg Gate for the atavistic savagery he incarnates on “Wachkoma.”
Wojczech’s lightning war approach to grindcore all but guarantees Sedimente would be a slim album (a pair of seconds short of the 24 minute mark) but the band bleeds out every drop in their veins and retch up every ounce of bile before that last second clicks closed, especially on two part closer “Redeschleife/Reste der Vergangenheit Letzter Ausgang Opferrolle,” a Teutonic mouthful that leapfrogs warp drive straight into to ludicrous speed.
Sedimente is tribute to the German national spirit, an unpretentious but remarkably efficient import of carefully engineered grind that puts many of our domestic models to shame.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sprechen sie Deutsch: Audio Kollaps

Audio Kollaps
Music From an Extreme, Sick World
Crimes Against Humanity
Outside of Full Metal Jacket, I can’t think of another Vietnam movie that commands popular attention with the same force as Francis Ford Coppolla’s jungle epic Apocalypse Now. After nicking the film’s art and font for their album cover, Audio Kollaps kick off Music From an Extreme, Sick World with a classic dialogue sample that is no less effective a mood setter for being dubbed in German.
A grind band in gutter punk clothing, Audio Kollaps play an Amebix-inflected style of grind that slots comfortably next to the last couple of Napalm Death albums, mixing up cocaine heartbeat blast beating with moodier crust punk crush. Mid-tempo burner “Schwadronen des Todes” (“Squadrons of Death”) is as foreboding and implacable as a Romero zombie horde while “Aussenwelt” (“Outside World”) boasts a thudding floor tom that could have been swiped from Napalm Death’s Utopia Banished standout “Dementia Access.” Audio Kollaps most impressively pull together all of their disparate elements on album winner “Kopflos” (“Headless”) a shrapnel cyclone of ice crystal howls, tundra blasts and a pure white out guitar solo.
I love the sound of Audio Kollaps during my morning commute. You know that grindcore sound? It sounds like … victory.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sprechen sie Deutsch: Who’s My Saviour

Who’s My Saviour
Glasgow Smile
Power It Up
Drugged out deadbeats who spend more time scouring overpriced vintage clothing stores for bell bottoms from their parents’ distant past than practicing their fucking songs can suck it because a trio of German grinders were responsible for the best journeys to the center of my mind way back in 2007.
Grab a copy of Glasgow Smile, Who’s My Saviour’s debut album, and immediately fast forward to close out track “Save Your Breath,” a sweat-dripping-off-your-nose-tip claustrophobic pocket of wavering sound that mixes churning stomach acid guitar work with blastbeat drumming and eerie dialog samples lifted from Stanley Kubrick freakout 2001. Three minutes later, shovel your mandible off the oily pavement and give the whole disc a spin.
Who’s My Saviour just might be the greatest grind band you’ve never heard of. Seriously. This young band brashly renovates the house that Napalm Death and Brutal Truth built, adding new wings and modern fixtures without sacrificing the original structure all with a dexterity and poise that is staggering. Damn near every song finds the band foraging through grind’s frontiers to import new musical elements.
Like the roiling anthill of a riff that sounds like a colony on the warpath guitarist Stephan conjures on “Countdown.” Or the way “When Magic Turns into Black Plague” reinterprets titanic, tidal Mastodon movements through Terrorizer acceleration. Even the Pelican chord sheen of “Shizo” surfs a wave of blastbeats Kill the Client would proudly claim.
We all know that friend who’s into metal but bitches that grindcore is incomprehensible noise lacking structure or novelty. Who’s My Saviour’s expansive palate and bold musical vision could be the gateway drug that starts a lifelong blastbeat addiction. Slip him or her a copy of Who’s My Saviour and put a Glasgow Smile on his or her face. Even if you already love grind as much as I do, you owe it to yourself to check this out. This damn well should be the sound of the future.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sprechen sie Deutsch: Attack of the Mad Axeman

In a last ditch bid to prove I’m not just a shameless Swedish slut (because oh I have more Scandi-goodness lurking the in the wings), I set my sites a few hundred clicks to the south and dug through my closet o’grind to exhume a quartet of killer German grinders not named Cyness or Yacopsae who manage to pay homage to the ghost of grindcore past while simultaneously tracing a cartography of the sound’s frontiers, potently reminding how much terra incognita remains to be explored in the style’s humble universe.

Attack of the Mad Axeman
Grind the Enimal
Does the mere thought of The Locust in their sublimely absurd plastic bug suits send you screaming to your nearest Lambgoat thread to cast imprecations the band’s way employing various novel uses of the adjective gay? If so, look away now. Not that these German blastbeat bunny huggers sound like the dreaded Californians, but they have been known to take the stage dressed like turtles, snails and other rejects from Disney’s roster of anthropomorphized animals.
Sartorial excesses aside, Attack of the Mad Axeman actually sound like a meatier Cyness ripping through the Earache back catalogue, clearcutting a forest of trad grind on short debut album Grind the Enimal.
Channeling the sounds of the animal kingdom through 18 minutes of no frills grind, Attack of the Mad Axeman give voice the plight of the creatures we manipulate for food, labor and love (read the band’s thank you/fuck you lists, several hundred word homages to bands with animal-themed names). Making that connection explicit, the band transition from a screeching simian cry and piercing guitar tones on “Survival of the Fruhest,” a late album standout.
It’s a team effort with Attack of the Mad Axeman with drummer Helix Pomatia (a kind of snail, btw) delivering a double kick clinic on “Animal Dictionary #1 while guitarist Procyon Lotor (the fancy Latin nomenclature for beloved nocturnal bandit the raccoon) turns in a tortoise shell pattered riff on “When Turtles Kiss.”
But if you want to skip all that because these Deutsch do-gooders add a little drama and flair to their stage presence, that’s your choice.
You were warned.