Wednesday, March 30, 2011

G&P Review: Ulcerate

The Destroyers of All

Of all the tricks in a film director’s repertoire, the one I probably find most engrossing is the long tracking shot. The long take is so dramatically compelling and the long, unbroken takes force actors to really perform off each other in a way that’s more organic than Hollywood’s insistence on two second scenes. When you mention great long takes, most people will point to Scorcese’s famous Copa Cabana scene in Goodfellas. That’s certainly a great scene, but don’t forget the amazing long takes in Children of Men (yes, digital trickery was involved), the phenomenal trench scenes in Kubrick’s Paths of Glory or drunken pub patrons enacting their own solar system in Bela Tarr’s apocalyptic Werckmeister Harmonies. But the king of all tracking shots is Aleksandr Sokurov’s Russian Ark: a whole 90 minute movie that’s one unbroken tracking shot that wends through St. Petersberg’s Winter Palace, featuring a cast of nearly 1,000 -- including two full live orchestras.
I get that same sense of dramatic profundity and technical mastery from Ulcerate’s latest album The Destroyers of All. It’s not enough that the songs have emotional content, but those emotions should move and expand over the course of a song. Hell, you could consider the entirety of the album to be single sinuous thread that streams you along for the better part of an hour. The swaying, viperous grace of “Omens” snaps against a blastbeaten back line while the ominous magma flow riffs of “Burning Skies” wash over the hurried double bass pounding of the drums, incinerating everything in its path and then just abruptly stopping, leaving the song hanging without resolution. But “Dead Oceans” immediately seizes that lingering anxiety, twisting the need for an emotional payoff into a warped, flayed bit of guitar strangulation.
The Destroyers of All’s slow motion apocalypse of fire is irresistibly compelling, building off what made Everything is Fire such an enjoyable listen and immolates it as a burnt sacrifice to your pleasure.

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

Monday, March 28, 2011

G&P Review: Wadge

Grindcore Lu’au

Grindcore Karaoke
Wadge’s tiki-tickling Grindcore Lu’au is covered in as many layers of deliberately lofi noise and scuzz and Dick Dale’s surfboard was covered in layers of Sex Wax. For all its colorful art and goofball conceits, Grindcore Lu’au is not an overproduced bit of throwaway fluff. Grindcore’s Don Ho starts with a hilarious rip on Napalm Death’s “Multinational Corporations” that extols the virtues of Hawaiian vacations and starts surfing 40 minutes of double picked surf rock grind. The Hawaiian elements and aquatic surf style guitar are organically blended into the grind in a way that makes perfect sense on “Extremity Jet-Planed/Eyes of Crust/Obstinate Erection” and “Drink for a Minute (Suffer the Distilled Men).” Proving the lofi scratch of the sound is purely deliberate, “Frenzied Suffocation” builds to an ear-bleeding static tsunami before the waves crest and break over the sudden clarity of surf-death hybrid “Demon Dogs of Waikiki.”
At nearly 40 minutes, the only criticism of the album is this is a hefty listen. In fact, Wadge could have easily pulled a Solomon and halved Grindcore Lu’au and passed it off as two full lengths of Slayer-approved proportions. I don’t see myself pulling this one out on a regular basis, but there’s no point in bitching about too much of a good thing. Pass the poi.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Grindcore Alphabet: G

Seven weeks in and more than a quarter of the way into the alphabet, G will be for grades. I want to hear from you how this little project is working or not. Have you discovered any new gems? Or are many of these bands lesser known for a good reason? What have been the major oversights? Who has surprised you? Drop a comment and discuss amongst yourselves.
Otherwise, here’s your letter G mixtape [Mediafire].

Gate – “My Anger to Whom” (Japan)
Gauze – “Thrash Thrash Thrash” (Japan)
Groinchurn – “Fickle World” (South Africa)
Gadget – “Requiem” (Sweden)
Gibbed – “Uncleanly Devoured Visions” (Japan)
Get Destroyed – “What a Mess” (United States)
Graf Orlock – “A Waste of Ammo” (United States)
Greber – “Hometown Heroin” (Canada)
Genocide (aka Repulsion) – “Violent Death” (United States)
Guyana Punch Line – “Political P.I.G.” (United States)
General Surgery – “Capricious Provisional Cadaver Grater” (Sweden)
Gride – “Nadije v Mijeni” (Czech Republic)
Ghostlimb – “Bridge Above the Above” (United States)
Gigantic Brain – “Melting Brain” (United States)
Gasp – “Harvest” (United States)
GridLink – “Naked Pieces Scattered” (United States/Japan)
Gods of Grind – “Binary Digit” (Japan)
Gore Beyond Necropsy – “Stench of Carnage; Gore Gore Goreality Stinking Holocaust” (Japan)
Godstomper – “Self Mosher” (United States)
Garbage Disposal – “Mind Grind-Machine” (Czech Republic)

Total to date: 161 bands

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

G&P Review: Humanity Falls

The convict knows he is a convict, an outcast, and he knows his place vis-à-vis his superior officer; but no brands, no fetters will ever be able to make him forget that he is a human being. And since he really is a human being, it is necessary to treat him as one. Merciful heavens! Human treatment may even render human a man in whom the image of God has long ago grown tarnished. It is these ‘unfortunates’ that must be treated in the most human fashion. This is their salvation and their joy.

Fyodor Dostoevsky
The House of the Dead


Humanity Falls
Ordaining the Apocalypse

The Path Less Traveled
It’s not often I’ll point you to a cover song as being indicative of a band’s progression, but the way New York grinding deathsters Humanity Falls tear through Discordance Axis’ “Pattern Blue” almost serves as a Rosetta Stone for the young band’s progress on their 2010 album Ordaining the Apocalypse.
On their demo, Humanity Falls were going through the gawky, adolescent stage of their musical development. All their ideas (and they must swing by the local Costco and buy them in bulk) just didn’t quite cohere into actual songs. Those same demo tracks have returned with a vengeance on Ordaining the Apocalypse. They’ve cut the fat, bulked up the muscle and are in prime game shape, lead by a guttural death roar that erupts from the toes. Everything is leaner and tighter. There’s barely an extraneous moment on the whole 10 song package.
There are scintillating bursts of brilliance as with “Denounced Manifestation,” which hares away from a blasting opener to explore shimmering galaxies of spiraling supernovae (though it occasionally wanders too far afield for the song’s own good). Though many of the songs bring the ugly brutality of Circle of Dead Children, on the whole, Ordaining the Apocalypse has a definite entropic direction. The songs move from tightly snarled death/grind bursts to increasingly unmoored arrays of sparkling starbusts that shine and hover just above and outside the song itself. It’s a trick that works best on songs like the title track, which eventually circles back to something resembling traditional song structure coherence.
While Ordaining the Apocalypse displays a decent amount of growth for a young band that’s starting to find its own voice, the production, unfortunately, it still rather demo-ish. A more robust, layered sound would have showcased the various elements of their meticulous music to better effect. But an effort like this should prove Humanity Falls are worthy of a bigger budget when they record their follow up. While I have no doubt the Path Less Traveled put out a quality package for Ordaining the Apocalypse (seriously, go read label honcho Sean’s series over at Invisible Oranges), the band said they’re also just fine with you going ahead and downloading it. Maybe that will inspire you to send a couple bucks their way.
[Full disclosure: the band sent me a download for review.]

Monday, March 21, 2011

Demo-lition Derby: Detroit

Detroit the city may soon boast a RoboCop statue after the nerdly internet hordes chipped in a few quid to install a bust of Peter Weller downtown for reasons that remain rather vague. I’m sure that will take the out of work autoworkers’ minds off the nearly 11 percent unemployment rate.
Alberta’s Detroit the band will soon be splitting wax with blog darlings Robocop and it’s a pretty good matchup. It’s an inspired pairing because, like Maine’s finest, Detroit like to mix the blasty fasty with the screamy ragey with occasional bouts of last call stumble home beer blackout power violence in a nine minute stew of sonic abrasions. The Infest/Crossed Out crush of “Consume” lurches into a glowering, towering loom opening of “War.” The briefest flash of old-skool crossover thrash that ignites “Impalement” is also a nice touch.
Detroit don’t boast the same spine shanking sonic clarity that made Robocop’s efforts so compelling, but for a demo, the sound is pretty robust and balanced. The guitars are feedback swamped swaths of screeching noise and low end grumble. The vocals are the slavering rantings of either a tin foil hat maniac or the prescience of an unappreciated prophet. Just as soon as you decipher what he’s rambling about you may know the difference. You can check it out (as a single track without song titles) here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Grindcore Alphabet: F

Would you rather fuck the facts or fuck on a beach? Can you fuck the facts on the beach or is that some kinda public nudity violation? Snuggle up with the man, woman or small, unresisting mammal of your choice because G&P is about to bring the looooooooooooove.
This is your letter F compilation [Mediafire]:

Fate of Icarus – “Annihilate the Assimilationist” (United States)
Flourishing – “Fixture” (United States)
Fuck on the Beach – “Spook” (Japan)
Flagitious Idiosyncrasy in the Dilapidation – “Studeny Klih” (Japan)
Fear of God – “I’ve Seen” (United States)Switzerland
Fitcage – “Smiling Corpse” (Russia)
Forgardur Helvetis – “Krossfest Born” (Iceland)
F.A.M. – “Blood of Sahara” (Poland)
Filthy Christians – “Extremely Bad TeethBreath” (Sweden)
From the Ashes – “Wall of Prejudice” (Sweden)
F.U.B.A.R. – “The National Fear Campaign 2004” (Holland)
Feastem – “No Questions” (Finland)
Fuck the Facts – “Golden Age” (Canada)
Face on Fire – “William H. Macy’s Mustache” (Australia)
Fortitude – “Breaking the Silence of the Night” (Japan)
Flesh Parade – “Coping With It” (United States)

Total to date: 141 bands

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Visual Regression

I’ve (mostly) accepted the death of music as a physical medium. So I’ve made an uncomfortable peace with the idea that in the future my music collection will largely consist of a bunch of 1s and 0s on my hard drive (provided one can bear up under my unkind ministrations) and, if I’m really lucky, a jpeg to go with it.
Albums used to be much more than just a collection of music. One of my favorite early punk and metal moves was to have the picture of your record collection spread out on the floor like this:

The common house cat is the most metal of all domestic animals.

It was a great way to show off bands' influences, and for those of us playing along at home, those became instant albums to hunt down. It was an important way of finding new music.
In my life I’ve gone from vinyl to cassette to compact disc to the mp3. That’s just a change in delivery method; I can cope with that. I miss all the other stuff that comes with albums: lyric sheets, liner notes, thank you lists and assorted album art. If you were (just throwing out a hypothetical here) a military brat bouncing around the world who had trouble making friends and never clicked with any “scene” (totally not talking about anybody in particular…moving on) those things were vital ways of finding interesting new bands in an era before you could immediately pirate any album from the comfort of your search engine. This is probably nothing more than cranky old guy reminiscence though. The world changes; you change with it or get run over. But for all the ease digital delivery provides, you’ve gotta admit physical albums were a better way of showing off your collection than this:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Demo-lition Derby: The Oily Menace

The Oily Menace
All Out Folk Attack
My admitted Ani DiFranco fetish aside, when Michigan’s The Oily Menace told me they were chasing their Modulistic Terror demo cassette with a promotional EP of folk covers, let’s just say I was a trifle concerned. Needlessly, it turns out because four blitzkrieged folk classics and a Napalm Death cover (“The Kill”) blend seamlessly into a raging three minute survey of protest music throughout the ages. Right from Harry McClintock’s “Big Rock Candy Mountain” straight through Phil Ochs’ “What Are You Fighting For,” The Oily Menace grind out a twisted amalgam of Great Depression anxiety and 21st Century angst into a blistering cyclone of wailing, blasting frustration. For those of you who thought their prior demo lagged a tad in the energy department, All Out Folk Attack is crack rock of an EP. The bass is a lumbering Neanderthal that beats against the rivet gun drumming and velociraptor guitarmageddon.
To anyone familiar with the originals, everything but “The Kill” will be completely unrecognizable, but under The Oily Menace’s tender ministrations, it all becomes a seamless, completely engaging tour de force of a demo. If they can wrangle this kind of energy and spontaneity in the service of their next batch of original material, they will be a grindcore force to contend with. You can check out All Out Folk Attack here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Grindcore Alphabet: E

Everybody needs a hobby.

Ex-wife. Excommunicate. Ex cathedra. Excalibur. Excelsior. Exterminator. Ex officio. Party time, excellent. Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. Exemplary. Extra-capsular Extraction. Exhibitionist. "Excoriating Abdominal Emanations." Existentialism. Ex post facto. Expectorant. Expose. Exploitative. Expatriation. X-acto knife. The Exorcist. Unitary executive theory. Exobiologist. Necronomicon Ex-Mortis. Explicate. Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Ex parte. Extravehicular maneuver. Exquisite.
I think we’ve just found grindcore’s favorite morpheme.
Meanwhile, here’s your letter E mixtape [Mediafire]:

Enemy Soil – “Group Think” (United States)
Exit-13 – “Societally Provoked Genocidal Contemplation” (United States)
Endless Demise – “Why Wait Till Tomorrow?” (United States)
Electro Hippies – “Scum” (England)
Expose Your Hate – “Wake Up to Reality” (Brazil)
East-West Blast Test – “Felling Ax” (United States)
Exit Wounds – “Fire at Will” (Poland)
Exhibit A – “Another Day Another Dollar” (Australia)
The Endless Blockade – “Like Partridges” (United States)(Canada)
Exitium – “Vicious Cycle” (United States)
Extreme Noise Terror – “Parasites” (England)
Exhale – “Paper Wings” (Sweden)
Excruciating Terror – “Careless Attitude” (United States)
Empties – “Circle” (Japan)
Exgreed – “Hateshinai Yokubo/Mokusato” (Japan)
Extortion – “Bludgeon” (Australia)
Employer, Employee – “You Are Now Thawed” (United States)
Eustachian – “Trichopatho Skeleton” (United States/Belgium)

Total to date: 124 bands

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

G&P Review: Dispepsiaa/Violent Gorge

Dispepsiaa/Violent Gorge
Bullshit Propaganda
I can’t remember where or when I read it, but several years ago I read a review that said two things can just ruin an album: the vocals or the snare because they’re ubiquitous throughout. That insight has stuck with me ever since. I won’t say Winnepeg’s Violent Gorge ruin their half of the split with their vocals, but they’re wrapped in enough layers of reverb to stay toasty through the harshest Manitoba winter. And because they’re shoved so far to fore, it detracts from what is otherwise a tidy little grindcore racket. Sounding like the first Black Sabbath record played by a horde of necro crust punks, Violent Gorge, musically, is a fairly satisfying experience. The clear ringleader is “Repulsive Apparatus,” which best exemplifies their frosted punk take on grind, but the croaking, echoing vocals just overwhelm the remaining songs. What the band lacks in recording chops, however, they make up for with a whole thesaurus full of song titles like “Labrynthine Plica Polonica” and “Mephitic Bromhidrosis.”
Flipside, Brazils’ Dispepsiaa just bring the noise. With roots tracing back to the semi-legendary Rot, the band expertly hits that sweet stride between lofi energy and perfect clarity. The guitars, in particularly, are raw and aggressive while also being amazingly clear. You can practically hear each string vibrate in isolation. Aside from a quick introductory flash of jazz to one of their six songs, Dispepsiaa best exemplify the Brazillian approach to grindcore: don’t look for innovation; just try to keep your teeth in your face as they work you over with a sphincter clenching ferocity.
Sadly, Dispepsiaa have called it a day, but their half of the split more than serves as a quality epitaph. Violent Gorge are more atmospheric than their grinding kindred, but they don’t yet know how to make that work to their advantage.

[Full disclosure: BS Propaganda sent me a review copy.]

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Want a New Drug: Drugs of Faith Go the Distance on Corroded

For all the high profile releases 2011 promises, the darkhorse that intrigued me the most was Drugs of Faith’s first foray into the realm of the full length on Corroded.
With an EP, a split, a demo and a This Comp Kills Fascists Vol. 2 stuffed and mounted on their collective trophy wall, the band is gracing us with their first long player. And for someone who has been such a vital grindcore institution for a decade and more, this is also the rare occasion when Richard Johnson has gotten a wide canvas for his music.
“As far as I can remember, I haven’t written for any release to achieve any sort of theme or mission statement besides writing in the confines of whatever genre it was,” Johnson said. “That certainly wasn’t a concern with Enemy Soil. I think we were the same as any other grindcore band in that we had to write enough songs to fill up whatever format we were going to record for. We did that with Corroded also. We wanted to have a 30-minute full-length, what I understand to be an industry standard. So we just kept writing until we had enough material. Our mini-album was 15 minutes long, and we needed to do something much longer than that. Now that I say all that, I have to admit there was some pressure to have a good fucking record. We made the point in the press release that Drugs of Faith has ‘finally’ completed a full-length, and that’s the right way to put it. People that have been following us are interested to see what we pull out of the bag for this kind of format, because we’ve not given anybody anything longer than 15 minutes since 2002, except for the LP version of the mini-album, which had two extra songs on it.” What Drugs of Faith slid in front of your greedy little faces courtesy of Selfmadegod should be no surprise to anyone who has followed the Virginia trio’s progression from the days of their self-titled mini-album and split with Antigama. Rather than a pure grindcore explosion, Corroded is tempered with punk rock riffing and crunchy crust collapses, which the band dubs grind’n’roll. I just call it fricken cool.
What Corroded really offers the discerning Drugs of Faith fan is more. More blasts, more grooves, more crust. Just more. Opener “Grayed Out” manages to work all of those disparate elements into one corrosive package of seething anger while “Foreign Climates” is all churning cumulonimbus glower. You can tap your toes along with the low gear grumble of “Checkers” while the 55 second “Hinges” is the song early His Hero is Gone just never got around to penning. One of the most striking aspects of how Johnson rolls his grind is the increased use of fairly discernable punk bark vocal style that lets you follow along without vainly poring over a lyric sheet trying to tie the screams to something discernable.
On “Race to the End” Johnson wails that “I don’t like where I’m going,” but Corroded should be fairly familiar terrain to the bands. Maybe just a new subdivision or two and a nice community park to spiff up the joint from their previous ventures.
“We think there’s more range on this release than with our previous ones, and that’s partially the case because we had more breathing room for different songs on it,” Johnson said. “At a point during the writing process I realized I wanted to put more songs with blast beats on it, to make sure we had a balance—not too much mid-paced material to the detriment of the grind. One reviewer revealed to me that at first listen he didn’t like the record because it didn’t sound to him like the Drugs of Faith he knew. That surprised me.”
What’s not surprising is how good Corroded is.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Grindcore Alphabet: D

Who doesn’t?

D is for D-beat.
D is for death metal.
D is for digital.
All of those influences come to the fore as we plow into our fourth foray into grinding goodness. Also, Spanish bands seem to be fond of the letter D. What’s up with that? I could have filled this comp with bands whose names start with Dis-. I didn’t (feel free to lavish me with thanks in the comments). There’s only four or five instead. See if you can spot them all.
So I present you with your D mixtape [Mediafire]:

Dephosphorus – “Collimator” (Greece)
Deathbound – “Deceiving Shortcuts” (Finland)
Drugs of Faith – “Never Fail” (United States)
Desalmado – “Em Sua Horna” (Spain)
D-Compose – “Insanity of Mankind” (Holland)
Destierra – “Tu Obra” (Spain)
Disnihil – “Darker Lens” (United States)
Defecation – “Live on the Planet Earth is Fucken Cancerous” (United States/England)
Denak – “Solo” (Spain)
Drudgery – “At All Cost” (Canada)
Devastation of Life – “Corporate Disaster” (Greece)
Deathstorm – “Maggot” (Japan)
Damad – “Skintight” (United States)
Damage Digital – “Moss” (Japan)
Dr. Doom – “Keys to My Heart” (Holland)
Depression – “The Peeling Session” (Germany)
Disturbance Project – “Jodida Etupidez Humana” (Spain)
Disassociate – “Meanwhile” (United States)
Doom – “Bury the Debt” (England)
Daughters – “Pants, Meet Shit” (United States)
Dystopia – “Green Destroyed” (United States)
Disrupt – “Religion is a Fraud” (United States)
Dropdead – “You Have a Voice” (United States)
D.E.R. – “Lucro e Troca” (Brazil)
Disassociate – “Crustier Than You” (United States)
Dataclast – “Postmortem” (United States)
Defeatist – “Nameless Hell” (United States)
Discordance Axis – “Typeface” (United States)
Difenacum – “Muerte al Patron” (Spain)
Drogheda – “Terminal Depopulation Experiment” (United States)
Despise You – “Repeat Until You Fail” (United States)
Diorrhea – “Malessere Perpetuo” (Italy)

Total to date: 107 bands

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

G&P Review: Eustachian

The Sphagnum Bog

Grindcore Karaoke
The next time your ears pop on a plane, thank your Eustachian tubes for maintaining the pressure equilibrium in your ears. I wish Los Angeles/Antwerp duo Eustachian had just a tad more equilibrium between their grindcore lashings and their electronic adventurism. I wanted to like The Sphagnum Bog more than I did because Eustachian have a deft hand with each, but unlike my chocolate and my peanut butter, I’m just not enjoying them together. But I guess you have to make allowances for an album named after named after peat moss.
When Eustachian hit, they know how to furrow deep down into your lizard brain’s fight or flight functions. Opener “Martinique” sounds like a light saber duel performed by a sheet metal orchestra and clear album standout “Trichopatho Skeleton” sets an exemplary Metallica/NWOBHM riff up against electronically-augmented grindcore corkscrewing. At nearly three and a half minutes, “Martinique II” lounges around a bit more than its otherwise excellent Gigantic Brain-style psychotrip deserves.
And that’s my biggest problem with The Sphagnum Bog. Too many of these songs linger longer than necessary. Tighter songs like the relatively concise “Z,” which tips the scales at 1:46, bear up better under repeated listens, but many of the other moments feel crushed under Eustachian’s everything but the master mixing board approach to songwriting.
Boasting one thoroughly excellent song and a host of other more soundscape-oriented assaults that pay off to a lesser degree, this one is an acquired taste.