Friday, February 26, 2010

You Suffer; They'll Tell You Why

Every so often as an interviewer it’s instructional to be reminded you’re not half so goddmaned clever as you think you are.
See, given Suffering Mind’s chosen appellation and penchant for punky throwback grindcore, I had thought it would be a humorous icebreaker to ask guitarist Kuchar “You suffer but why?” My thinking being it would make for one of those pun-y, self-satisfied U C WHUT I DID THERE? kind of leads. Instead Kuchar rhetorically handed me my comedy ass as he used the question as a chance to delve into his band’s decidedly jaundiced outlook on life.
“Well I may say about two things causes the suffering: first is an interactional dystopia,” Kuchar explained gamely. “We live in the strange world where even the closest persons make others suffer. Bytheir acts,words,many different things. People are hostile, frustrated, often aggressive… There’s too much ignorance and selfishness which creates sad image of mankind.”
I can’t really argue with that answer. But like Ron Popeil used to said, but wait, there’s more.
“Second thing is a hydra called system, a ruthless monster with government, religion, military, police heads,a monster created by man but now totally under its control,” Kuchar continued. “It’s hard to fight even with one head. A hydra without one head is still strong and dangerous. Cutting off a head will regenerate shortly cause all heads are needed to [ensure the] system works correctly. Authority and religion always go hand in hand enslaving by brutal power and false promises.”
With a killer, crusty full length racking up accolades all around the weberverse since 2008 and a slurry of splits (including a sweet callabo with similarly outfitted boy-girl band Lyncanthropy) to their credit, Suffering Mind are set to spread the pain evenly over the globe in 2010 with a new long player on 625 Thrash and Crucificados Pelo Sistema followed by more tag team efforts with Phobia, Audio Kollaps and possibly Magrudergrind or P.L.F.
That’s a heavy agenda for a band that insists on keeping true to their punk roots. It’s not just Suffering Mind’s crusty sound that sets them apart from their more metallic European peers but also a fierce commitment to handle their own business as well.
“There’s still lot of bands that want to have punk face and prefer to be connected with punk scene,” Kuchar said. “Just like us. In our music you may hear lot of different influences: from grindcore, crust, thrash to metal and sludge. We record all stuff D.I.Y. and we have control of how we sound. It’s lot of work, but after it’s done you’re just happy that you do something from start to end by yourself.”
And while those of us sitting at home brushing Cheeto dust off our keyboards may opine at how vibrant and robust the Polish scene appears from the outside, looks can be deceiving. While the former Eastern Bloc country boasts Squash Bowels, Exit Wounds, Selfhate and the tricksome Antigama to its credit, Kuchar said all is not Zywiec and sunshine from a ground level perspective.
“Well I don’t think that Polish grindcore scene is too big,” he said. “We don’t have too many bands and situation with gigs is not too good in my opinion. If you want to play a gig in Poland it’s only few places where you can play and get more than several people in audience. From time to time there’s some bigger grindcore fest like Mosh It Up for example when more bands play and people come to see them. Smaller gigs have low frequency even when some good grindcore bands play. That’s why Polish people pick also the Czech Republic fests like Obscene Extreme or Play Fast or Don’t. There they can see more bands.”
Suffering Mind’s punk ethic and approach set them apart from their countrymen in more ways than one.
“Mostly Polish bands play gore grind and there’s not too many bands connected strongly to the punk scene. I think that people asked about Polish grindcore bands will name Dead Infection, Squash Bowels and Neuropathia first. What for Suffering Mind: we sound probably bit different to them. Or maybe not? Well everyone can listen and have their own opinion about that.”
We all suffer. Do we really need to ask why? Just listen to some fucking Suffering Mind.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blast(beat) from the Past: Suffering Mind

Suffering Mind
At War With Mankind


Think I was joking when I said the split with Lycanthropy immediately made me go out and buy more Suffering Mind? A few spins of that was all it took for me to immediately go hunting for 2008’s At War With Mankind, a scabies scab-raw crust platter of squatter grind. Shedding all of the metallic pretensions of modern grindcore, this multi-gendered Polish collaborative are a sterling example of crusty grind’s gloriously reductive joys.
Album standout “Humanitarne Manipulacje” is keenly aware of that crusty majesty, enticing with a simple but weapons grade virulent riff that gets crushed by Bolt Thrower double bass.

Suffering Mind - "Humanitarne Manipulacje"

Suffering Mind have a few other musical tricks rammed like rabbits up their black army jackets like the lepus lope of “Dead Part of Cause” or the timely down tempo passage of “Ekonomiczny Szczyt Bezczelnosci” (Pat, I’d like to buy a vowel, please). And while Suffering Mind are yet another band to close out an album with a doom-paced trudge anthem (“Ostateczny Pogrzeb”), it makes enough of an impression that I don’t mind all that much. It’s an album so good I can excuse yet another fricken bad sampling the “Pain has a face” line from Hellraiser IV (“Dead Part of Cause”). I’ll let it slide with a warning this time, Suffering Mind.
Also, I heartily endorse everything this mind reading, post pre-empting chump had to say.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Blast(beat) from the Past: Terrorism/Runamuck

/Up to My Neck
Morbid Reality/Beat the Meat

A friendly sticker on this EP tells me that due to a pressing plant error, the sides of this 7-inch are mislabeled. Good thing for that because you’d be hard pressed to tell. I’ve never heard two bands on a split before that were this perfectly matched. Runamuck have a tinnier snare tone but otherwise this California trio (since grown to a foursome) sounds a lot like the other (relatively) better known California quartet.
With songs like “Every Time I Watch Porn I Think of You” and “You Want to be the Dildo That J-Lo Uses to Fuck Ben Affleck in the Ass,” who’s surprised to find out Runamuck’s top MySpace friend is Anal Cunt? The songs have more structure than old A.C. tunes and whatever lyrics there may be backing up their titular conceits are swamped in a sea of blurred production and yapping Chihuahua chattering. Lo fi, low brow, highly entertaining.
Terrorism bring their usual noise but now evil troll rasps war with the grunted groans and swiped samples. Though this was released the same year as Atrocities of Reality, I was kind of disappointed that, lyrically, Terrorism just weren’t as sharp. Instead of beautifully subversive morality plays wrapped in gore, we get pretty straightforward declamations against genocide (“Concentration Camp”), dangerous nationalism (“Fascist Patriotism”) and metal sell outs (“Mainstream”). Musically, however, Terrorism know how to work a blast beat. The amateurish (not an insult) production turns the guitars and bass into a faceless, monolithic wall of background noise while the death rattle mouth music and drums mud wrestle for your attention at center stage.
It’s hard to argue for originality from two bands who sound identical on a split, but this hits my grindcore sweet spot nonetheless.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blast(beat) from the Past: Terrorism

Atrocities of Reality


Oh look, a grindcore album that kicks off with a police siren. Never heard that before. (I kid, I kid.)
Los Angeles quartet Terrorism are out to terrorize you with a 7-inch’s worth of brutal, snarling strain of grindcore (wait, maybe I have heard this before), helpfully labeled as sides gore and grind, just in case you got the mistaken impression that they harbored some secret arty pretensions.
But don’t confuse unpretentious with moronic either. Unlike their presumable peers, Terrorism are a bit more on the ball than poring through for synonyms for “pussy.” They wield their gore with a scalpel and not a chainsaw. “Murderous Grindcore” is a slyly subversive little ditty about those torture chambers and “rape rooms” we heard so much about during the early days of our gloriously triumphant Iraqi adventure. An appropriately br00tal subject for a metal band, but as the litany of atrocities grinds on, Terrorism slowly shift the perspective. It’s not longer Uday and Qusay getting their rocks off but rather American special forces taking over the joint to run a car battery to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s sensitive nethers. Clever little bastards, Terrorism.
Before the nutters start screaming about America haters, Terrorism also lash the Japanese to the rhetorical rack and give them a few twists for World War II’s Unit 731 (also known as the source of the name “Maruta”). But if politically subversive gore is not your cup of brewed bile, Terrorism also ladle out heaping portions of more traditional fare: songs about the BTK killer (“B.T.K.”), our war ravaged planet (“Politics and Gore”) and driving hearses (“Meat Wagon”).
All that and a siren too!

Holy Terror!

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the five stages of grief. Every huckster, two-bit pop psychologist on the tube is bound to break them out when “diagnosing” some bored, fat haus-frau’s malaise on any number of woo-spewing day time talk shows of the Oprah ilk. But friends, were you aware that there are six stages of grindcore terror? Probably not. But if I’m ever going to make Deepak Chopra-style cash peddling absolute bullshit, I need to get this concept out in the public consciousness. So all of you grab a box of tissues and your teddy bear because we’re going to talk about your feelings.

The first step toward curing your terror-related problem, naturally, is to admit you have a problem. You must admit to your Terrorism, as it were, before you can put yourself back on the path of healing and emotional well being. Terrorism has been known to cause manic behavior such as circlepitting your living room, grasping at citrus no one else can see and breaking out in wordless, animalistic roars that scare pets and small children. All of this is perfectly natural, of course, but you must admit that your Terrorism exists and that it is a problem for any sort of treatment to be successful.

Having admitted to your Terrorism, the second stage of therapy will seek to identify the locus of your terror, the agent acting upon you or Terrorizer. Common fears include heights, kissing grandma, spiders, Tim Curry in It or, often, three Hispanic dudes from Los Angeles and their affirmative action gringo friend grinding your fucking face to a bloody milkshake with one of the greatest albums ever recorded. Who knows what yours might be. These things tend to vary. Pick yours and I’ll proceed to beat it out of you.

The most difficult fears to diagnose are those that lack grounding in concrete reality – an Unseen Terror in professional parlance – because they are often a result of a shock to the psychological system. Like the day you found out that fat, balding guy from Napalm Death used to be a fucking great drummer or further realizing that somebody actually went to the trouble of writing grind songs about Garfield. However, don’t make the Human Error of thinking just because your fear can’t be seen that it can’t be treated.

Now that we’ve identified the source of your terror, we must evaluate its impact on your life to devise an appropriate treatment program. A mild Phobia can generally be effectively managed with a regimen of waterboarding and electric shocks to the genitalia from a car battery. But if you suffer from a more Excruciating Terror we may have to get more … creative … in our therapy choices. Say, a melon baller, the audiobook of Atlas Shrugged and a tube of tennis balls. I’ll let you work that out for yourself.

Should more conventional methods of addressing your terror prove ineffective, we can of course step you up to the Extreme Noise Terror protocol. The protocol often involves gathering a couple hundred unsmiling young white men in black shirts in a dank, stinky hole that pretends to be a club and subjecting them to tinnitus-inducing levels of screeching, shrieking noise you have somehow convinced them constitutes music while simultaneously gouging them on food and beer prices. Who said being a humanitarian can’t be profitable? Fun fact: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s fear of air travel was cured by a 72-hour, 300 decibel session of Britney Spears’ greatest hits at our Guantanamo Bay treatment facility. The regimen was not a total success, however. While his fear of flying had been addressed, he also developed a crippling phobia of whorish, washed up teen pop stars. Not that I blame him.

Should we be successful, the terror treatment program should leave you in a state Beyond Terror Beyond Grace. While you’ll likely have overcome your fears (possibly substituting a slew of new phobias in the process, say of sadistic therapists), you’ll also place yourself beyond your chosen deity’s grace and redemption given the treatment often results in patients screaming blasphemies and obscenities throughout (again: melon baller, Ayn Rand, tennis balls). While you’ve likely sacrificed your immortal soul in the process (should you ascribe to such a quaint notion), I guarantee the Andrew Childers treatment process will mean your original fear will be the furthest thing from your mind.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Blast(beat) from the Past: Migraine


Stress Domain

If there’s one thing that annoys me, it’s when people who have your run of the mill headache whine endlessly about how awful their “migraine” is. My mother gets migraines and the blinding, crippling agony that sends her to the emergency room for 12 hours at a crack is orders of magnitude beyond the pissant kind of pain that can be cured with a handful of asprin.
Not that any of that has to do with the matter at hand.
Post-Brutal Death members of that band teamed with associates from Ecoli and Warkrime to rampage through your skull as Migraine. Unlike Brutal Death’s grind, this 45’s worth of songs is an updated tribute to Siege, right down to the meandering, horn-laden closeout “Funeral Oration,” propped up by samples from Young Frankenstein. This easily sounds like it could have been released on HG Fact. Migraine are just about a perfect marriage of modern hardcore and roots power violence. The noisy, hopscotch opening riff to “The Beyond,” my single favorite track, skips over a rhino charge rampage of bass and drum, layering dexterity over head cracking crush as though Greg Ginn wrote a power violence song.
Migraine also boast some of the most striking visuals around in a black and white medium, mixing Brutal Death’s graffiti art and blending it with Medieval woodcuts and an obsession with Soviet iconography that carries over to their blog as well. Migraine has assembled a complete package with their self-titled EP, perfectly marrying a truly unique aesthetic component with their inventive hardcore.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blast(beat) from the Past: Brutal Death

Brutal Death
Brutal Death


Seriously? Do I have to go through the whole rigmarole of even bothering to describe what a 7-inch by a band called Brutal Death sounds like? If you can’t figure it out, please raise your hands so we all know who can’t be trusted with sharp objects. But since their internet presence is nil (and their name is woefully Google-proof) and I’m not set up to rip vinyl yet, let’s go through the motions.
Named … ahem … Brutal Death and swiping the Napalm Death font, the trio’s repertoire extends all the way from enslavement to extreme responses. Though as raw as an open, suppurating wound, the production gives the guitar, drums and vocals their own space, making this one of the better balanced of all the underproduced EPs I’ve heard. Drummer Sean has that same creepy crawly reverb to his drums – especially the floor toms – that made early Bad Brains demos so awesome (seriously, go give Black Dots a close listen). And there is no need for a bass with Mike’s low-slung, crusty guitar ripping and gnawing like a hippo with an impacted tusk on a tooth-grinding coke bender. Covering all the bases from Frankensteined power violence lurch through white knuckled grind frenzy and boasting an urban tagger graffiti style for the interior art, Brutal Death actually remind me quite a bit of a rawer Magrudergrind.
Definitely not to be confused with another grindcore Brutal Death that apparently bangs out nothing but songs about the Backstreet Boys. There’s a reason that atrocity’s MySpace page only has four friends – including Tom. But I’d count this Brutal Death a friend any day.

Friday, February 5, 2010

G&P Review: Nashgul

El Dia Despues al Fin de la Humanidad

Power It Up
If Cujo has taught me nothing else, it’s that you should vaccinate your pets because this shit usually starts with rabies.
Sure enough, right off the top of zombie audio film El Dia Despues al Fin de la Humanidad (The Day after the End of Humanity), Spain’s Nashgul are bellowing about the “Hidrofobia.” Somebody put Ol’ Yeller down before it’s too late. I joke, of course. It’s already too late.
Shotgun-wedding Max Brooks horror with a Mike Mignola aesthetic to a more Carcass-ian attack than Humanicidio, the band’s prior collection of splits and 7-inches, Nashgul script and soundtrack a zombie horror film lacking only the visuals. Dipping into the always reliable well of Fulci and Romero, Nashgul drop what arguably was one of the best grind albums of 2009, had I gotten to it in time.
The vocals are suitably Jeff Walkeresque and the prominent bass sounds like a rotten femur strung with a twanging tendon and the Repulsion influences are notable, especially in “Cremated Remains.” But then there’s other, less expected influences burbling up like corpse gas in a Louisiana swamp. Bassist Luis rumbles like a reanimated Cliff Burton during the startling Metallical close out to Resident Evil-style charmer “La Plaga.”

Nashgul – “La Plaga”

Anyone who bought Humanicidio will recognize a few of the titles here: “El Vengedor” gets recycled while in true Hollywood style swinging, bent string ’70s-style instrumental “Mad Max” gets sequelized as “Mad Max II.” Zombies and grindcore go together like Tom Savini and latex gore and while Nashgul don’t reanimate any new corpses with El Dia Despues al Fin de la Humanidad they know where the choice bodies were buried.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ablach to the Future: Scottish Grindcore Historians Get Their Learn On

Take out your number 2 lead pencils, boys and girls because this is a test. What exactly to do you know about Scottish history? Bonus points for not referencing either Braveheart or Highlander. Or we could skip all that tedious pedagogy and just headbang to Ablach’s debut EP instead.
Two covers aside, Aon (Gaelic for “one”), is an 18 minute crash course in Hibernian Gaelic [Ed's note: st00pid Americans and their incorrect adjectives] history that clips along at a crusted grindcore pace. Though the uneven production left me a tad cold, I haven’t been able to get the meaty little plastic slab out of my head. In a genre paralyzed by lyrical conceits you can quantify on the digits of a single appendage, to hear a band reach for something personal and meaningful in a grindcore context was startling in its originality. Turns out, that really wasn’t the band’s intention at first.
“There was no premeditation when it came to style of music or indeed lyrical content when the guys first entered a room together,” Ablach guitarist Bazz said. “The noise came naturally and our first batch of songs continued on from where Filthpact was leading in its Scottish tendencies. Once the band name was decided upon the whole concept became a bit more obvious to us.”
And by obvious he means strip mining all eras of Scottish history without wallowing in neo-pagan rejectionism of the modern world or saccharine peons to an era where dying of easily preventable illnesses at 35 was considered a life well lived.
“Lyrically it's about the darker side of reality, but from Scottish sources old and new,” Bazz said. “Personally it's mostly the really old stuff that we know very little about, the ambiguous ‘Picts’ and their carved monuments we still puzzle over.”
Turns out there’s plenty of darkness to puzzle over from a country that coined a word – Ablach – to distinguish mangled corpses from your more run of the mill variety.
“I also thought it was screwed up that one word was created for such an occurrence, but it turns out that Gaelic words are a little broader in definition than in English,” Bazz said. “So the same word would be used in other circumstance, ie. a burned out car, post-wolf attack (when we had such creatures roaming wild) livestock etc.”
With that kind of linguistic brutality near at hand and several centuries worth of atrocities to pull from, Ablach don’t stand to lack for inspiration. Indeed, Bazz said the Scottish sextet is already at work on their second LP, which, naturally, will be named Dha.