Monday, November 29, 2010

G&P Review: Wojczech

Pulsus Letalis

As an amateur epicurean with a budget, a lot of enticing delicacies have been denied me on the basis of cost. Chief among them would be the purported glories of Kobe (aka Wagyu) beef, famed for its exquisite marbling and excellent taste. The bastards on Iron Chef keep tempting me, but so far the opportunity to partake has eluded me.
And while that delectable morsel is beyond my current pocketbook’s reach, it does make a perfect metaphor for Germans Wojczech’s unexpected new album, Pulsus Letalis, which is beautifully marbled with lean grind muscle and veins of unctuous death metal substance. It’s just a shame it’s a bit of step back from their earlier work.
As to be expected since it's the band’s first full length since 2005’s Sedimente, there’s some rust that still needs to be worked off. Where that album was a gymnastics routine tied to a foundation of grind (bassist Andy Colosser moonlights in criminally underrated grind visionaries Who’s My Saviour), Pulsus Letalis plays it safer with a more familiar blend of death and grind. Wojczech have hunkered down to deliver a dozen songs (including Repulsion’s “Maggots in Your Coffin”) of bullish death grind that pits aggression over artistry. While it may tend to a tad generic lacking the band’s prior expansiveness, it does its job.
“Battlestar” swirls along on a delightful circular riff while the astrally projected “Leitkultur” hints at Wojczech’s former experimentalism as it slithers along like a glass serpent. The strongest aspect of the album, overall, is Stephan Gottwald’s perfectly on point drumming, highlighted by the thunderous “Steinzeit” or snare rolling “Izotope.”

Wojczech - "Izotope"

Wojczech have always suffered from middling band syndrome, never finding that hook to vault them into wider consciousness, but by jettisoning the irregularities that made Sedimente stand out from the pack, they’ve made their job that much more difficult. On its own, Pulsus Letalis is a perfectly acceptable album, but compared to Sedimente, it just feels lacking.

Grindcore Bracketology: Semifinals/Regional Championships

All the winnowing to date leads to this. This round you’re going to crown kings of the region who will advance to compete for hemispheric dominance and, ultimately, the global title. You guys have been in top game form to date, but I think a few of these are going to test your argumentary mettle. Who is going to advance one step closer to grindcore's Mount Midoriyama?
Take a gander at the brackets here, and now it’s game on. You’ve got until Saturday.

North America
Pig Destroyer (1) v. GridLink (2)
Art reigns supreme in North America. Now it’s a question of whether you prefer Pig Destroyer’s nightmarish explorations of psychological decay over GridLink’s neon jazzed tribute to the New World’s enduring fascination with the Far East. Many of you have grumbled about GridLink's dearth of material. How will they fare against Pig Destroyer's quartet of albums and a few splits?

Asia and Australia
Wormrot (1) v. 324 (2)
For the Pacific Rim, it’s a battle of the old guard vs. the new jacks. 324 have been pretty consistently awesome over a dozen years (though I will acknowledge Rebelgrind was not to everyone’s taste). In the other corner is Wormrot who are still riding the buzz of a single unbelievably awesome record that channels the pure essence of grind.

Rotten Sound (1) v. Sayyadina (2)
Apparently Sweden and Finland have been nurturing a healthy rivalry for about 1,000 years that is often settled at the hockey rink. I now propose we lay it to rest permanently on the vaunted grindcore pitch. Rotten Sound versus Sayyadina: whose country will be taking the bragging rights home?

Continental Europe and the United Kingdom
Napalm Death (1) v. Nashgul (5)
Napalm Death continue to surprise me. Given the antipathy to the current incarnation in some corners, I secretly expected them to nosedive in the first round when matched with Agathocles, but like the actual band, they just keep grinding it out. If Napalm Death are surprising me, in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was by the passionate following Nashgul have engendered on the strength of their steadfastly classic approach to grind. Nashgul embody the same drive that Napalm Death shepherded into being but have since abandoned. Do you honor a legacy band still willing to take a chance or the young bucks who lay it on the line for heritage?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

G&P Review: Comparative Anatomy

Comparative Anatomy

Mind Flare Media
Just when you thought Hatebeak and Caninus were enough to get PETA’s fair trade, animal product-free panties all bunched, Virginia’s Comparative Anatomy stitch together an entire album of experimental electronics from the tortured bleats of defenseless animals and abused machinery. Fair warning off the top: this is not grindcore. Instead, Comparative Anatomy wield a pastiche of funk bass, industrial drum machining and audio loops into a sometimes coherent ruckus all while sporting animal costumes that would make Attack of the Mad Axeman blush from shame.
Largely instrumental, the two manimal band lets the animal noises stand in the stead of vocals on songs that are looping and slowly mutating with repetition. It’s like listening to Swans’ Soundtracks for the Blind as remixed by an autistic kid with a Fisher Price See ‘n Say. Each song gets its own animal avatar guiding development of the noise. “Peter Rabbit the Great’s Carrot Phalanx” rings with martial horns, sending up military engagement in the tradition of the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup. “Puppy Hatred” blends ’50s crooning with Red Harvest industrial glower in an intentionally jarring juxtaposition. Among the most involved and layered songs, “Swarm of Camels” manages to stitch together samples of Indian vocals and melodies, funk bass, industrial beats and cell phone ringtones into something that stops just short of unified.

Comparative Anatomy – “Swarm of Camels”

When things don’t jell, like the screeching, monotonous “A Car Full of Seals in the Mall on the Day After Thanksgiving,” Comparative Anatomy begins to look less serious about their craft.
And that’s the crux. A lot of the compositions tend to be clever and can engage on an intellectual level, but I’m not getting any kind of visceral or emotional jolt from the songs. I’m left wondering how much further Comparative Anatomy can take a concept many (most?) people will write off as a one-note joke.

[Full disclosure: MindFlare sent me a review copy.]

Grindcore Bracketology: Quarterfinals 2 Winners

Despite one turd in the pool, I’m absolutely enjoying sitting on the sidelines watching you guys (respectfully) argue this one out. Quarterfinals 2 has been another brutal round and there are some heart wrenching eliminations coming. But it had to happen sooner or later. Here’s who you said should advance to fight it out for regional mastery. As always, updated brackets can be reviewed here. Well get back to voting again on Monday.

North America
Was that a hint of an anti-GridLink backlash I was picking up in the comments? Though some of you remain unimpressed by Chang and Matsurbara’s collabo, the Jersey-Japanese amalgamation powered passed Texas heroes Kill the Client by 13-9 in a thoroughly grueling matchup. No matter who won that one, I kinda feel like we all lost.

Asia and Australia
Luckily, Gamefaced will not be hunting each of you down to devour your souls because 324 cruised past Singapore acolytes Mangnicide by either 16-1 or a perfect 17-0. (Sorry, Amalgamated, I wasn’t sure where you’re going with that. If you’d care to clarify that in the comments, we may just have our very first shutout.)
[Addendum: Amalgamated said it was a vote for Magnicide. So the official final count will stand as 16-1 even though he/she/it/they will bow the majority. Either way, look out for Gamefaced, my friend.]

I fear the Afgrund v. Sayyadina rivalry will never be satisfactorily resolved. Though Sayyadina eventually won out by 11-6, this was the closest call of the lot and the quality arguments offered for both suggest a convincing case could have been made to overturn the will of the people. Too bad I’m on Team Sayyadina.

Continental Europe and the United Kingdom
Upsets have been vanishingly rare so far, but Dutch crushers Blood I Bleed will be hitting the showers early after getting thoroughly pummeled by Nashgul 12-4. The Spanish band was probably the hardest ranking decision I had to make initially, and they’re quickly proving themselves to be a dark horse to watch with a second upset to their credit.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Demo-lition Derby: Standing on a Floor of Bodies

Standing on a Floor of Bodies
Teaching Pigs to Sing (Demo)
The grind band without a bassist is such a cliché at this point it passes without comment.
Mike Stitches, vocalist of deceased Rhode Island ragers Thousandswilldie (who seems to have this thing for elaborate band names) flips the script in his new solo project Standing on a Floor of Bodies [just to clarify, part of TWD was from Rhode Island, but Bodies is actually based in California. Sorry for any confusion.], banging out a one man brand of grind with nothing but bass and drum machine. It’s a testament to his execution that I didn’t even notice until I did some additional research on the band.
If brevity is the soul of wit, then Stitches could trade barbs with Groucho Marx as he stitches together (hardy har har that’s sew funny) 20 to 30 second quick burns of bass-led brutality blasted by samples and tape loops that give it the EP a nice, creepy vibe. “Gone the Way of All Flesh” harnesses and rides the decayed grooves that undergirded Man is the Bastard if that band ever soundtracked a psychological horror film. The snarl of “Slaughterhouse Hitchhiker” or the rapacious Pig Destroyer rampage of the title track only slam that slasher vibe home.
More than a cool experiment in treble-less songwriting Bodies crafts a consistently satisfying listening experience that sounds larger than its humble constituent parts. Check it out here in the audio format of your choice.

Grindcore Bracketology: Quarterfinals 1 Winners

That grindcore trophy is almost in sight and you’ve eliminated another four contenders from competition. Here’s who you thought should move on to the semifinal round to fight it out for the title of top dog in their respective region. As always, take a gander at the revised brackets here.

North America
If you cross Pig Destroyer with Brutal Truth you’d have Brutal Destroyer and that’s what happened to the New York institution: they got brutally destroyed by the porcine ones. Though it was the closest matchup of the round, you deemed BT’s brightest days were behind them while PxDx has smooth sailing ahead by a vote of 11-9.

Asia and Australia
This one wasn’t even close. Every so often I have to stop and ask myself if Wormrot is really as good as I kept telling people they are. Was I just overhyping them? Nope. Aussies The Kill couldn’t stand against Singaporean perfection as they cruised to a 14-4 clobbering.

Ditto Finnish institution Rotten Sound who clobbered forward thinking Swedes Gadget by 15-4 in the most lopsided blowout of the lot. Even though many of you grumbled the band seems to have peaked at Murderworks eight years ago, their last couple of albums were still strong enough to keep William Blackmon and crew at bay.

Continental Europe and the United Kingdom
There are plenty of people who have written off post-Dorian Napalm Death, but apparently the Brummie bangers still hold enough of a reign on your affections to power them past German goofs Attack of the Mad Axeman by 14-6. Though they may have strayed from their straight grind roots and questionable death metal excursions, the four man band’s last few platters of crusty power seem to have hit the sweet spot.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

G&P Review: Quarter the Villain

Quarter the Villain

Self Released

Tech death mongers Quarter the Villain pound hard out of the gate with “Frontier Justice,” slamming face first into a scream and horse gallop riff that slams together Gorod and Luddite Clone in a supercollider, unleashing intergalactic cannibal beetles to burrow subcutaneously.
Those bugs get a work out because Quarter the Villain have notes to burn. Like a lot of tech bands, they firmly believe one good note deserves another 25. The guitars seethe and tweedle in a way that seems all random at first but must be carefully constructed to be that chaotic. Belying its titular mammal, “Choking a Sloth” throws up a sparkling fountain of notes that burble and sing over mournfully bent counter points. Proving their fearlessness in the face of traditional musical boundaries, Quarter the Villain cross pollinate “Sock Puppet Vendetta” with a stately waltz propelled by strident horns and tinkling keys.
Like a lot of tech obsessed bands, Quarter the Villain are brimming with ideas, but actual songs sometimes get lost amid the noodling, particularly for someone like me whose tastes run to simpler pleasures. I think Quarter the Villain is one of those bands I respect more than I enjoy, but tech-heads may find something interesting to latch on to here.

[Full disclosure: QtV sent me a download. Meant to make that clear earlier.]

Grindcore Bracketology: Quarterfinals 2

Here’s the second half of the quarterfinals. You’ll have until Tuesday to make your case in the comments.

North America
GridLink (2) v. Kill the Client (3)
A battle of aesthetics. GridLink are sleek, emotional and oddly positive for the normally grumpy world of grind. They’re like magically finding one of Japan’s legendary vending machines outside of your local 7-Eleven. Kill the Client just want you to die. Preferably exploded into little pieces. Subtle is one thing they’re not with their violent brew of blast beats and punk riffs.

Asia and Australia
324 (2) v. Magnicide (3)
Like Obi Wan and Darth Vader, this is a meeting of master and student. Has the circle been completed? Are Magnicide now the masters while 324 has laid idle due to lineup instability? Who wears the Asia crust grind crown at the moment?

Sayyadina (2) v. Afgrund (3)
There’s no need to rehash old territory. We’ve had this argument before. I think Sayyadina represent the best of post-Nasum Swedish grind. Many of you offered up Afgrund instead. Now it’s time to make your case in the comments. May the better band win.

Continental Europe and the United Kingdom
Blood I Bleed (2) v. Nashgul (5)
Two of Europe’s most promising bands offer a fairly stark contrast. Holland’s Blood I Bleed embody the finest aspects of modern grind songwriting. Everything’s spiky and frenetic, strangled by deliberately placed static. Spain’s Nashgul, on the other hand, think grind peaked with Horrified and are content to keep it traditional. So do you prefer Coke Classic or New Coke. Wait, bad analogy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

G&P Review: Burning Ghats

Burning Ghats
Fool’s Gold
Self Released
The burning ghats of Varanasi are sacred sites for Indian Hindus. The crematory steps along the holy banks of the Ganges are the final farewell for your immolated loved ones.
The Burning Ghats of Vancouver is a quartet coming correct with a four song EP of be-Siege-d hardcore and chug-a-lug eddies colliding with desperate yelps that fall just short of articulate.
With longer songs than many of their peers, often in the three minute range, Burning Ghats take the time to completely develop their ideas musically while being mindful of not overstaying their welcome. With songs like “Ceremoniously Fuck You,” the band shows its often most comfortable working a mid-gear crush while “Speaking+’s” rangey reach lopes from hardcore rush through stomps and drones. If Chile had deployed “Missing Person’s” subterranean burrow sooner, they probably could have pulled those trapped miners back up to the sunlight a few weeks earlier.
It's here for your “pay what you want” consideration courtesy of Bandcamp, which means you have no excuse for not giving it a listen and, if the mood strikes you, throwing a couple of bucks at a promising young band.

Grindcore Bracketology: Quarterfinals 1

Some of you may have jumped the gun on voting, but that just shows you’re eager to get with it, which is a good thing. I happen to know that one of the more prominent musicians featured here happens to be lurking and enjoying the conversations (include your guess as to who in the comments for bonus awesome points), so bring your A game as things start getting serious. Here’s your next round of matchups. Have at it. You’ve got until Saturday.

North America
Pig Destroyer (1) v. Brutal Truth (4)
From a pure songwriting perspective, these two bands pretty much embody the pinnacle of contemporary grind songsmithery. But who does it better? Do you give the nod to Pig Destroyer’s acid art nightmares or Brutal Truth’s resurrection of one of the strongest legacies in grind (keeping in mind we’re only talking the current incarnation here).

Asia and Australia
Wormrot (1) v. The Kill (5)
Two explosive, violent bands with their sound set to (*ahem*) kill that both exploded out of the East. I had to build a special brace to hold up my jaw last year after Wormrot dropped it to the floor. Can The Kill’s likewise likeminded assault stave off Singapore’s finest?

Rotten Sound (1) v. Gadget (4)
I have no clue who will win this matchup, but I do know the winner will be a master blaster. Both Rotten Sound and Gadget have a need for speed (though Gadget are also that exceptional grind band that can also master down tempo dirges). I’m pretty sure William Blackmun is at least partially robot. And Rotten Sound seem to be genetically engineering inhuman drummers on a secret farm somewhere in Lapland.

Continental Europe and the United Kingdom
Napalm Death (1) v. Attack of the Mad Axeman (6)
Napalm Death’s post-Earache era has been a revelation and reinvigoration of the band’s sound and legacy, reaching backwards to embrace many of the aspects that made the earlier incarnations legendary progenitors of grind while keeping them forward looking and modern. Will that revitalization stand up against a bunch of Germans in fuzzy animal costumes who grind like motherfuckers?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Demo-lition Derby: Super Mutant

Super Mutant
Grab your Gatling laser and mow down some deathclaws and mirelurks, there’s a Super Mutant in the vicinity. Unfortunately for them, right now their hardcore noise is rather Average Mutant. The songs are a blur of yelps and mediocre drumming, overwhelming the guitar and bass and making their songs faceless. It’s hard to tell how good the tunes might be when you can’t really hear the riffs.
But on the positive side, Super Mutant show flashes of knowing what they’re about. “Gallows” busts out an unexpected ’70s style arena rock solo and “Your America” nicks from Hendrix’s version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Super Mutant also nail that creepy, reverbed vibe that eeried up the Bad Brains on a cover of “Banned in D.C.”But the death grunts are at odds with the overall punk vibe of the tune.
Super Mutant have that punk enthusiasm in spades; now they just need to set that to tape (or bytes) in a way that’s audible rather than muddled. This is one that could use another run through the studio and a few more hours being honed in the rehearsal space. Decide for yourself here.

Grindcore Bracketolgy: The 4-5 Winners, Quarterfinals Preview

*Just a quick clarification: voting is not yet open on the next matchups. This was just a quick update to let you know where things stand now that round 1 is over. Sorry if I didn't make that clear. Voting kicks off for realz next week. Don't worry. I'll make sure you know when to go.*

Mark it down. Round one is in the books and here’s what you had to say about the 4-5 faceoffs. I don’t envy you guys having to pick between some of these.

North America
Total Fucking Destruction? More like totally fucking blown out. In a Hoak on Hoak matchup, Brutal Truth’s legacy and evolutionary revolution powered them to decimating 12-1 whuppin’.

Asia and Australia
With plenty of abstentions, The Kill strangulated Agents of Abhorrence to claim the Land of Oz crown by 5-3.

With Crowpath’s status as tr00 grind called into question, Gadget ground the competition under foot. Their sleek take on the traditional Scandinavian sound claimed a 10-3 triumph.

Continental Europe and the United Kingdom
I don’t envy you having to vote on this one at all. Of all the matchups, this is the one I would have had the hardest time calling. In a narrow decision, conquistadors Nashgul lorded it over countrymen Looking for an Answer 7-5.

So after reseeding the survivors, here’s how the next bout of matchups will stack up. Thanks to your thoughtful participation, we’re looking forward to some real headscratchers. As always, you can view the brackets here.

North America
Pig Destroyer (1) v. Brutal Truth (4)
GridLink(2) v. Kill the Client (3)

Asia and Australia
Wormrot (1) v. The Kill (5)
324 (2) v. Magnicide (3)

Rotten Sound (1) v. Gadget (4)
Sayyadina (2) v. Afgrund (3)

Continental Europe and the United Kingdom
Napalm Death (1) v. Attack of the Mad Axeman (6)
Blood I Bleed (2) v. Nashgul (5)

Monday, November 8, 2010

G&P Review: Rehumanize

Self Released
Grindocalypse, Rehumanize’s final revelation (those of you fluent in ancient Greek should find that hysterical) is unfortunately a bit of a mixed bag for a farewell platter. Not as consistent as Resident Apostasy, some of the 20 songs could have benefited for a few more hours of woodshedding. Some songs like “Extreme Prophetic Nightmare” or the 20 second, one dimensional “End!” are more like armatures of songs that have yet to be fleshed out, at times rickety skeletons of blasts and yelps that have yet to coalesce into something more memorable.
But when the duo clicks, things are familiarly crushing, seeding their grind with just enough death to add some piquancy to their performance. The three minute opener “Not Even One” is probably the best of the lot with a nice parfait of blasting adrenaline and shifting, mercurial tension. “Obligated to Suffer” also has a nice locomotive propulsion behind its groove.
There are fewer samples this outing, which may make it easier for heathens to give Rehumanize’s Christianity a go. In fact, the band spends as much time dealing with mental health as they do the spiritual sort. Adding an interesting element to their expected evangelism, Grindocalypse delves the depths of depression and mental illness. Not in metal’s typical “I’m so crazy and dangerous” kind of baloney, but rather in a realistic, confessional manner that exudes the honest mental anguish that can come from psychological trauma. Turns out Hell is not just a place; it’s also a state of mind.
The band is giving the album away here.

Grindcore Bracketology: The 3-6 Winners

The first round is coming to a close with the final victors to be announced Thursday. Meanwhile, here’s who you thought ruled the 3-6 bracket. Finally, you guys delivered an upset. Who’s hitting the showers early? Read on to find out.

North America
Kill the Client may wanna consider changing their moniker to Kill Graf Orlock. The cine-grinders got blown out by a score of 19-2. Kill the Client will get a chance to escalate the hostility in round two.

Asia and Australia
There’s something festering in the water in Singapore. Magnicide’s 324 worship cut across Unholy Grave’s black wings by a vote of 8-5.

In probably the most fiercely argued matchup of the round, Afgrund partisans narrowly won a rear guard action against up and comers The Arson Project by 7-5.

Continental Europe and the United Kingdom
Finally an upset! Sixth ranked Attack of the Mad Axeman's animal magnetism won out over Poles Suffering Mind’s traditional grindcore by 8-5.

The 4-5 winners will come on Thursday and the reseeded matchups for round two will kick off again Monday. As always, the updated bracket can be perused here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Demo-lition Derby: Colombian Necktie

Columbian Necktie
Thrashy power violence outfit, Colombian Necktie by their own admission on “Black Ash” have “empty pockets and a worn out concept of hope.” They also have a pretty tidy three song EP of “negative metal” that swings enough fat bottom to spring Sir Mix-a-lot’s anaconda. Working the well-worn groove hollowed out by Trap Them and, at times, Converge with a few thrashy inflections, Colombian Necktie are a band I could see growing into something more well rounded given time and a budget.
The aforementioned “Black Ash” crosses Séance Prime with hints of Petitioning the Empty Sky, riding a triumphant riff through its second half that cribs from a young Kurt Ballou. “In Your Absence’s” yowling vocals give way to a coruscated flash of guitar soloing that slinkees its way through the song. “Moris Code” [sic] is a by the numbers speed freak to close out.
For now Colombian Necktie’s influences are a tad obvious, but they do their thing well enough. Check it out here.

Grindcore Bracketology: The 2-7 Winners/The 4-5 Matchups

I know I’ve done my job properly when I see you sobbing in the comments. The matches are getting more even and the choices are only getting harder from here on out. No upsets yet, so here’s your 2-7 champions. I didn’t pick em so don’t blame me.

North America
Despite some spirited defense of Noisear, GridLink’s 12 minutes of grind perfection (don’t forget the track from Our Last Day, folks) ruled the day by a vote of 11-3.

Asia and Australia
Absence (absinthe?) makes the heart grow fonder and despite not gracing our turn tables with new noise in four years, crust busters 324 narrowly out blasted left field loonies Swarrrm 9-6.

What Splitter will be mourning will not be unknown because everyone should have seen Sayyadina’s victory coming. They outlasted their countrymen by a vote of 13-3 with the most robust defense of the round.

Continental Europe and the United Kingdom
Bleed for me, bitches. Holland’s Blood I Bleed talked shit and spit blood all over Cyness by 8-3. While I agree with Shantera that Massgrav won the split with the Dutch band, anyone who’s basked in the glory of Gods Out of Monsters knows what I’ve been raving about.

As always, the full updated brackets can be perused here. Meanwhile, your toughest task yet is before you with the 4-5 faceoffs. You've got until Tuesday. Now if you'll excuse me, the Blues-Sharks game is on.

North America
Brutal Truth (4) vs. Total Fucking Destruction (5)
Brutal Truth shook off the munchies long enough to drop a trio of the most essential grind albums of the ’90s. But that’s ancient history. After a decade hiatus, it’s time to ask the New Yorkers what they’ve done for you lately. Reupped and rearmed with ex-Lethargy/Sulaco guitarist Erik Burke in tow, Brutal Truth gave us a handful of songs on the first This Comp Kills Fascists and Evolution Through Revolution, a 21st Century blend of Need to Control ferocity and Sounds of the Animal Kingdom experimentalism. However, does the new batch stand up to the glory days or are they just milking the nostalgia circuit?
Rich Hoak certainly didn’t sit idle after Brutal Truth went the way of the dodo. Left with a load of free time, a love of jazz and a yoga driven rejuvenation, Total Fucking Destruction has been pushing grind into ever weirder corners with each release. Blast jazz, acoustic grind and stand up poetry screeds all get hotboxed by his coterie of likeminded cohorts. The only rule: nothing is off limits.

Asia and Australia
Agents of Abhorrence (4) vs. The Kill (5)
Any band that comes with Zmaj’s imprimatur is one to take seriously; the Blogfather knows his shit. Agents of Abhorrence earned the Cephalochromoscope seal of approval for their brew of Discordance Axis acceleration and strains of power violence with Iron Lung and Neanderthal getting namechecked. Taken together, their influences brew up an exemplary example of modern grind’s potential.
Featuring members of Super Happy Fun Slide and Fuck…I’m Dead, you wouldn’t expect The Kill to suddenly start spouting tea time niceties. Instead they set the intentionally stupid to the deliberately thrashy. It’s the point/counterpoint of lethal precision musically and the frat boy humor sentiments of “Tracksuit Pants are Thrash,” the abortion-riffic “Dead Babies” and unambiguous sentiments of “Fuck Emo” that set them apart. Agents of Abhorrence list the Kill as an influence. Who does it better?

Gadget (4) vs. Crowpath (5)
Go, go Gadget grindcore. Gadget ringleader William Blackmon’s sci-fi steeped grind has only gotten more focused over two full lengths even as he’s broadened his vistas with expertly deployed downbeat interludes. Sleek, composed and poised, Gadget distill Ridley Scott’s interpretation of a Phillip K. Dick dystopia into its audio essence, alternately embracing its potential and pitfalls in ways that are consistently thought provoking and electrifying.
Crowpath’s dystopias strike closer to our temporal home – their last album was a Swedish serial killer concept that crawled out of a miasma of grindcore and power violent sludge. Maruta may have taken the sound in grungier directions, but Crowpath’s music is marked by a sociopathic sense of control that's eerie. They’re the frightening musical secrets lurking behind Jeffrey Dahmer’s everyday guy normalcy.

Continental Europe and the United Kingdom
Looking for an Answer (4) vs. Nashgul (5)
The pain from Spain will sear into your brain. It’s just a question of who does it better.
Denak descendants Looking for an Answer brew up a savage beating that harks back to grindcore greats all in the name of animal rights and crushing noise. Their raucous rage consists of to the point songs strung together into an interlocking chain of blast driven noise. The master craftsmen have increasingly refined their sound paradoxically by shedding the modern sheen, connecting with something more primal and atavistic with time.
Nashgul have blinkered themselves to the last 20 years of grind evolution. Instead they blew the dust off their copy of Horrified and took that as their template, banging out tunes derived low budget movies and zombie lore. Their musical inspirations are drawn from the same era as the films they pillage for inspiration – Mad Max, Toxic Avenger and the finer slices of the Fulci cannon all get musical nods. For all the talk of rotting corpses, unsightly horrors and other monstrosities, Nashgul keep everything appropriately light hearted and limber.

Monday, November 1, 2010

G&P Review: Cellgraft

External Habitation
Self Released
I learned my lesson from the great Crowpath uprising of 2008: give the people what they want. So, with that instructive experience firmly in mind, I present you with Cellgraft, with whom, if comments are to be believed, most of you are already intimately familiar. I mean, I did put them on my Napalm Death covers comp.
If that were not enough to start your salivary glands flowing with Pavlovian delight, External Habitation is a biologically-themed blast of 10 quick jabs and the aforementioned Napalm Death cover that just are good enough to erase the Florida tag on Fark. Florida and the Cellgraft’s black and white art should also prod your thoughts toward Assuck, whose meaty punk bleats get crossed up with Jouhou-era Discordance Axis caffeination. And neither reference point is much of an exaggeration. Cellgraft, with two self released albums under their studded belts, possess masterful songwriting skills. While just about every song is a wild eyed experiment in acceleration, Cellgraft know just when to throw a few angular hiccups into the rhythms into “Divine Resistance” or the staccato floor tom thunder that studs the colonic “Codex Alimentarius.”
Fiercely DIY, releasing their own albums, Cellgraft defy lyrical expectations with their scientifically-minded diatribes that don’t devolve into gore (like their Retribution EP) or rehash like-minded political slogans. This is a band that's poised to be major players in grindcore’s future if they can maintain their stellar quality and crash through the internet noise to reach a wider audience.
External Habitation, their eponymous debut and a gore-tinged EP are all free for download at the band’s blog.

Grindcore Bracketology: The 1-8 Winners/The 3-6 Matchups

The people have spoken and it wasn’t even close. Here are your 1-8 winners.

North America
Pig Destroyer terrifier-ed crust grind lifers Phobia, blowing them out 17-4. Turns out a fairly consistent record over 20 years and an unwavering commitment to DIY ethics just can’t compete with Hull et al’s scathing art grind nightmares. (Bonus points go to Bill Willingham IV Esq. for better articulating my problem with recent Phobia albums. I also agree they’re too safe.)

Asia and Australia
In the most lopsided contest of the lot, Wormrot eviscerated Captain Cleanoff by a vote of 18-2. Though many of you argued fiercely for the Australians’ right to slot in the contest, their booze drenched nods to classic Carcass just couldn’t stand in the face of Wormrot’s exquisite ferocity.

Though a few of you offered up spirited defenses of Infanticide’s new jack noise, Rotten Sound’s legacy of consistently crushing records drove them to a 16-5 victory. Give Infanticide a few more years to build up their reputation and I suspect the results would be much closer.

Continental Europe and the United Kingdom
Maybe it was just wishful thinking since I’ve been on an Agathocles binge lately, but I had smelled upset going into this one. You, the voters, were having none of it. Old dogs Napalm Death’s new tricks crushed Agathocles’ relentless singelmindedness by 15-6. It was the tightest contest of the day, but it wasn’t even close.

The winners have advanced and you can check out the revised brackets here.
Meanwhile, we move on to the 3-6 matchups. The faceoffs should be more evenly matched so I expect closer calls and some really interesting arguments. Let the streets flow with the blood of the unbelievers. Argument’s open until Saturday.

North America
Kill the Client (3) vs. Graf Orlock (6)
Go mess with Texas. I dare you. Yeah, didn’t think so. Kill the Client are an audio pipe bomb packed full of nails and the knucklebones of lesser competitors who shred their fingers to the nub vainly trying to keep pace. But there’s just not another band working right now that’s as purely pissed as Kill the Client. Champ Morgan is a man possessed and he’s backed by of top shelf musicians. Jesus, is there any grind band that Bryan Fajardo hasn’t joined? But the secret sauce to the Dallas barbecue may be bassist James Delgado who anchors the chaos and quietly shapes the sound from behind the scenes.
If the MPAA sends out a flurry of new cease and desist letters, cine-grinders Graf Orlock must be back in the studio. The band has dropped a triptych of releases that follow the formula of introduction/conflict/and violent conclusion that stitches together a narrative from cinematic samples and swiped dialog lyrics. And while that has been the bit of trivia that has formed the basis of the Graf’s identity, don’t overlook their quality of the hardcore tinged noise they bang out. The music is just as sweeping, emotional and explosive of the meathead movies that inspire them.

Asia and Australia
Magnicide (3) vs. Unholy Grave (6)
A fascinating matchup between two Asian acts that are perhaps better known for their artists they ape than the music they make on their own. Singapore’s Magnicide do a capable 324 impersonation as they play second grind fiddle to countrymen Wormrot. But do Wormrot have grindcore didgeridoo? Hmm? Do they? With 324 frozen in carbonite for the time being, Magnicide are your best bet to scratch that crusty grind holocaust itch until the masters’ triumphant return.
Unholy Grave are the Asian Agathocles both because they bang out a consistently lo-fi morass of punky grind with only a fleeting acquaintance with 21st Century recording techniques and technology and because the list of their split-heavy back catalogue outweighs your average phone book. But the Japanese quartet has defined its niche in the grindcore ecosphere and have burrowed in comfortably. You don’t pick up an Unholy Grave album expecting to be wowed with the latest thinking in songsmithy. However, the band has a deft hand at grinding the fuck out, never swaying from their strengths.

Afgrund (3) vs. The Arson Project (6)
Some of you have had the temerity to develop your own surprisingly cogent opinions, making lucid arguments in favor of Afgrund’s superiority to Sayyadina as Sweden’s top working grinders. How dare you? Oh, I can certainly see where you’re coming from because Afgrund raged out of the abyss (all of those who got that pun, raise your hands) with a potent brew of punk- and metal-distilled audio aggression. When the sometimes Swedish/sometimes Italian/sometimes Finnish sometimes trio/sometimes quartet (OK, their lineup is not stable) clicks, the set all of Europe aflame, like the song says. The question before you is if that is strong enough to overcome the band’s insistence of larding albums with thoroughly pointless and dreary doom passages.
Against them comes upstarts The Arson Project who only boast one EP to their name to date, but it’s a corker. Hobbled by a name stolen from the bad metalcore handbook, The Arson Project have a slick hand with a tune and a poise and energy that belies the band’s relative youth. Do 14 minutes of prime noise and bucketsful of future potential stack up against the here and now attractions of Afgrund?

Continental Europe and the United Kingdom
Suffering Mind (3) vs. Attack of the Mad Axeman (6)
Suffering Mind couldn’t be more serious; Attack of the Mad Axeman couldn’t be less. Do you prefer the rage or the jester? Poles Suffering Mind are grind incarnate. Far more hardcore inflected than many of their European kin, the band blasts and huffs and doesn’t waste its time with much else. They know their strengths and they will throttle you with their raw rage and bullwhip attack.
Against them stands Germany’s Attack of the Mad Axeman the ecologically minded grinders harness the sounds of the animal kingdom in the name of animal activism and environmental responsibility. They also know their way around a thoroughly infectious riff over the course of two increasingly awesome full lengths. And yes, they wear fuzzy animal costumes on stage, but don’t let that lull you into thinking they’re a joke band.