Monday, December 31, 2012

Grindcore Bracketology 3: Master Blasters

I asked you on the Facebook page if you're up for yet another round of bracketology, and you all seemed most enthusiastic about pitting your favorite grind albums of all time against each other in a musical Hunger Games. So here's Grindcore Bracketology 3: 32 albums enter, only one blaster gets to run Bartertown.
For those of you who missed out on the last two years, here's how it goes down. I've broken the albums down into four conferences of eight albums each. Just like in the hockey playoffs, the eighth ranked album has to face the first ranked album while the others are paired up 2-7, 3-6, and 4-5.  For the visually-minded, you can view the brackets here.
You vote for your favorite in each match up and the winners get to fight another day.
One important change this year: I'm opening up voting both here and at the Facebook page. Vote where ever is most convenient for you. You're on the honor system to vote only once, but I know most of your real names so I'll keep you honest.
Before we kick off the voting next week, here is your chance to nitpick my set up. Feel free to offer suggestions about reordering the initial matchups or adding or deleting albums before we get started. I've organized the albums into two leagues: The Geezers (representing the classic first and second wave records) and The Upstarts (the modern classics). Within each league I've created two conferences. For the Geezers, I've (very roughly, here) broken out albums that seem to have more of a metallic base versus those that seem more directly tied to punk and hardcore. Over on the Upstarts side, I'm pitting your arty pretentious types with their weepy songs and carefully cultivated angst against the knuckle-dragging troglodytes who like to pick their nose and kick your ass without over-thinking it.
Voting will start next week. May the best record win.


More Metal
1. Repulsion-Horrified
2. Napalm Death-From Enslavement to Obliteration
3. Terrorizer-World Downfall
4. Brutal Truth- Need to Control
5. Carcass-Reek of Putrefaction
6. S.O.B.-Gate of Doom
7. Assuck-Misery Index
8. Enemy Soil-Casualties of Progress

More Punk
1. Napalm Death-Scum
2. Brutal Truth- Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses
3. S.O.B.-Don't Be Swindle
4. Siege-Drop Dead
5. Assuck-Anticapital
6. Disrupt-Unrest
7. Unseen Terror-Human Error
8. Anal Cunt-Morbid Florist
Extreme Noise Terror-A Holocaust in Your Head


More Arty
1. Discordance Axis-The Inalienable Dreamless
2. Pig Destroyer-Prowler in the Yard
3. Mortalized-Absolute Mortality 2
4. Dephosphorus-Night Sky Transform
5. Agoraphobic Nosebleed-Altered States of America
6. GridLink-Amber Gray
7. Nasum-Helvete
8. Liberteer-Better to Die on Your Feet Than Live on Your Knees

More Farty
1. Insect Warfare-World Extermination
2. Wormrot-Abuse
3.  Agoraphobic Nosebleed-PCP Torpedo
4. Nasum-Human 2.0
Suffering Mind-Suffering Mind
5. 324-Boutoku no Taiyo
6. Kill the Client-Cleptocracy
7. Sakatat-Bir Devrin Sonu
8. Cellgraft-External Habitation

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Grind in Rewind 2012

This is probably the hardest year end list I've ever compiled because 2012 gave us a good, varied crop to pick from and I masochistically enforced a 10 albums only limit on myself. That means I've written this post about seven times, tweaking the order and shifting bands in and out of the lineup. But I think I'm fairly comfortable with my top 10. Unless I change my mind and rewrite it next week. Anyway, here's my favorite albums from 2012 as of right now. Feel free to add, delete and reorder my choices and lecture me on my stupidity in the comments. Here's to a productive 2013. 

10. Detroit
Grindcore Karaoke

Detroit's self titled record, their second album of the year, was an example of evolution through regression. The Canadian youngsters (some of whom can't legally buy beer in the States), proved their mettle by getting in touch with their troglodyte selves, turning in a buzzing, biting little critter of an album that's perfectly noisy and decidedly single-minded. Detroit are already banging out riffs in preparation for a more traditionally full-length record. I sincerely hope they build off the template they've established here.

9. Napalm Death
Century Media

If you told me at the start of the year that venerable grind geezers Napalm Death would be busting out one of the most visceral, exciting and varied records of their career 20 years and 11 albums after the current lineup solidified, I would have been highly skeptical to say the least. But Utilitarian kicks all kinds of ass. Liberated by their elder statesmen status, Napalm Death are free not to give a fuck and indulge in whatever whim struck them in the studio. So you've got crazy saxaphone and Gregorian chanting staple-gunned to crusty death-grind and somehow it all just works. A little less chanting would have been fine by me, but when everything is this damn good, I can't really complain. Sticking Napalm Death on a year end list is cliche at this point, but this is easily one of my most-listened albums of the year.
8. Standing on a Floor of Bodies
Sacrilegious and Culturally Deficient
7 Degrees

Legions of demonic doomsters and even the mighty Mythbusters have struggled in vain to achieve the brown note--that mythical infrasonic tone that can make you shit your pants. Frightmare duo Standing on a Floor of Bodies prove that it's not how low you drone, but how effectively. Right after I wiped off the shit Standing on a Floor of Bodies scared out of me, I strapped on my Depends and put Sacrilegious and Culturally Deficient on for another spin. Eschewing the modern horror trend for just jump cut shocks, Standing on a Floor of Bodies keep their bass-slung grind/violence shocks old school, building a claustrophobic atmosphere that revels in breaking down your psyche rather than traipsing through your viscera.

7.  F.U.B.A.R.
Lead Us to War

There wasn't another album this year that felt as massive as F.U.B.A.R.'s Lead Us to War. While they're not likely to win a foot race with some of their speed obsessed contemporaries, the Dutch grind/violence institution made sure every second of their long awaited album hit you firmly between the peepers and left an indelible mark. Fast, slow, screaming, despairing, F.U.B.A.R. had a range and sincerity sorely lacking in too many grind bands. They delivered their diatribes with the subtlety of a car crash, and I loved every second of it.
6. Antigama
Stop the Chaos

This has been a good year for getting sci-fi all up in your grindcore and Antigama's stop gap EP Stop the Chaos was a great excursion beyond the asteroid belt. Jetting into the black infinitude gave these technically adroit Poles a platform to get all cyberpunky up in here. It doesn't hurt that Stop the Chaos is also Antigama's most focused, song-centric batch of tunes in quite a while. This will keep you occupied until NASA figures out what caused those organic compounds on Mars (aliens, duh). The chaosmongers are coming to take you away.

5. The Kill
Make 'Em Suffer

Australia has been on a grindcore tear in recent years as The Kill are rightly the country's alpha dingo. Named after one of Napalm Death's finest songs, the band lives up to its name, ripping and snorting through 15 songs in under 20 minutes of impeccably performed grind nastiness. This is everything you want in a grind record and not a jot more. But you'll be too busy scraping your brains off the wall to care. They make you
 suffer; it doesn't matter why. 

Better to Die on Your Feet Than Live on Your Knees
I still think a more varied vocal assault would have really pushed this revolutionary call to arms over the top, but that's getting pretty damn nitpicky when you consider the staggering breadth and originality Matthew Widener served up as Liberteer. I listen to way more grind than is probably healthy for any stable person and I can say I've literally never heard anything like this. The operatic sweep and ideological focus of Better to Die on Your Feet Than Live on Your Knees is unlike everything you've ever heard before. The way it integrates into a singular musical experience speaks to a level of thoughtfulness and foresight sorely lacking from a lot of other musical quarters. Viva la revolucion.

3. thedowngoing

More like a thousand years of screaming in unending agony as demons strip away your flesh one teensy thin layer of skin at a time. Australia's gruesome grindcore twosome thedowngoing roared back again in 2012 with yet another tidy 10 minutes of soul flaying insanity that traps you in the pincer of Mathias Huxley's insane screeching and white-noised ear drum rape. Noisegrind has always been a fringe of a fringe of a musical underbelly, but thedowngoing's deliberately inaccessible art should get wider acclaim anywhere that people declaim their love for anything extreme. Time to add one more lethal addition to the long list of venous nasties that infest the antipodes.

2. Sakatat
Bir Devrin Sonu
Everyday Hate

What Bir Devrin Sonu lacks in length, Sakatat more than make up for with raging aggression. There is not a wasted second to be found here as Sakatat minced through a maelstrom of grind and wipeout screaming. Sakatat succeed by burning grindcore down to its most basic constituent parts and then kicking their fucking asses with energy and aplomb. Enjoy all eight minutes of Bir Devrin Sonu because Sakatat have just called it quits. They weren't joking when they named their album End of an Era.

1. Dephosphorus
Night Sky Transform
7 Degrees

Dephosphorus transformed more than the night sky with their sophomore effort; the Hellenic trio upended many of my preconceptions about what grindcore could be and convey. Night Sky Transform has evolved so far beyond mere grindcore that even trying to squeeze them into that label feels like a gross disservice to what they've brewed up as they musically venture into the empty(?) spaces between the stars. The first time I heard Axiom in 2011, this immediately became my most anticipated album of 2012, and Dephosphorus did not fail to deliver, even if they charted a course I didn't expect. Axiom was more immediate and visceral, but Night Sky Transform is ultimately the more rewarding musical experience if you take the time to invest yourself in its otherworldly meditations on the cosmic irrelevance of humanity and the splendor that is the universe at large. All hail aurora.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Grind in Rewind 2012: It Takes Two to Tango

The split seems to be a lost art in the digital era. Downloading two different halves of an album from two different Bandcamp pages just doesn't quite have the same pizzazz as flipping a piece of wax on your turntable, ya know. Or I could just be an old coot (*pulls plaid pants up to armpits*). But despite modern technology's best effort to turn me into a parody of Abe Simpson, 2012 was blessed with a bumper crop of awesome bands that managed to work well and play with each other. Here are 10 bands over five splits who figured out how to do it right this year.

5. Amputee/Nimbus Terrifix
Piggiron Sound

The Nimbus Terrifix side still doesn't really wind me up, but new Amputee material is a gift from grindcore Olympus. Ugly and without a hint of pretense, Amputee are everything you really want in a grind band. Sometimes you just want to be walloped upside the cranium without subtlety or art. Here are two bands that don't get too wrapped up in the whys and wherefores of their music and just decide to smack you silly instead.
4. Nashgul/P.L.F.
Bones Brigade

I imagine the Nashgul and P.L.F. split was probably recorded in the musical equivalent of a broke down drive in theater that specializes in seedy midnight movies that are high on boobs and blood and not so finicky about acting or plot. Or the kind haunted by Scooby-Doo villains. One or the other. This 7-inch is a loving tribute to a time when movies wallowed in depravity and violence. And they would have gotten away with it if it hadn't... Actually they got away with it pretty damn well. The next time some Hollywood bigwig wants to make an "ironic" throwback to the heyday of exploitation films, maybe these two bands can soundtrack it.  

3. Priapus/Old Painless
Self Released

I wish I were in the land of cotton cuz grindcore there is not forgotten and runnin' rebs Priapus and Old Painless lobbed a cannonade with this self-released 7-inch. How some label didn't immediately snap this up remains the biggest head scratcher of the year. However, the bands have been spreading their nasty vibes all across the internet and it's yours for the taking at their respective Bandcamp pages. Old Painless' acquired taste vocals and Priapus' gutbusting death just might force you to secede from the world of record labels as a result.

2. Robocop/Detroit
Dead Language, Foreign Bodies
Grindcore Karaoke/Give Praise

Heading in the opposite direction from Priapus/Old Painless, Robocop and Detroit's neo-powerviolence pairing made the leap from Grindcore Karaoke's digital distribution network to a gorgeous 12-inch on Give Praise that you really, really want to add to your collection. It doesn't hurt that the bands both turned in defining performances. Robocop transitioned to a new, cleaner sound that swapped violence for intellect, placing a new spin on familiar songs and expanding the band's arsenal from broadswords to laser-sighted sniper rifles. By contrast, Detroit went atavistic, turning in a furrow-browed slate (and  J. Lo cover) that set up their subsequent solo releases later in the year.
1. Dephosphorus/Wake
7 Degrees

Sometimes the most brilliant gambits are the most obvious. Case in point, the excellent and ascendant 7 Degrees Records grabbed its two foremost bands -- Wake and Dephospohorus --  and told them to each record enough music to fill one side of a 7-inch. The result was an absolutely scintillating pairing that proved to be a pivot from Wake's Leeches (which graced last year's list) to Deposphorus' dominating Night Sky Transform. Dephosphorus had backed off the artistry of Axiom for something more primal and vicious, which put them firmly in Wake's realm, giving the pairing a wonderful balance from side to side. This is absolutely everything you want in a split experience: two bands at the top of their game that clearly enjoyed the idea of working together.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Twas the Night Before Grindmas

Twas the night before Grindmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was blasting, except for one mouse.
The records were placed on the turntable with care,
In hopes that St. Embury soon would be there.

The grinders were nestled all snug in their beds,
While The Inalienable Dreamless danced in their heads.
And mamma in her bass rig, and I in my cap,
Were banging our brains to the sound of Ablach.

When out from the boombox there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the pit to see what was the matter.
From out of the speakers I heard a great smash
As Brutal Truth wound up and started to thrash.

The rattling sounds of Need to Control
Left its imprint on my young soul.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a magically reunited Insect Warfare.

With a little old drummer, so lively and quick,
I knew he was blessed by the spark of St. Mick.
More rapid than eagles his blastbeats they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now, Rich Hoak! Now, Proctor! Now, Dave Grave and Witte!
On, Fajardo! On, Max Ward! On, Walker and Harvey!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now blast away! Blast away! Blast away all!"

As dry heaves that before the Wild Turkey barf fly,
When they meet with that preachy straight edge punk guy.
So up to the stage-front the moshers they flew,
Before collapsing from heat at Maryland Death Fest Day Two.

And then, in the twinkling of "Dystopia Pt. 2"
I heard boots stomping on the top of my roof.
As I was banging my head, and turning around,
Down the chimney St. Embury came with a bound.

He was dressed all in black, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all stitched up with patches to boot.
A bundle of records he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a merch guy just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his bald spot how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
He bounced like a kid at his very first show,
Though the hair of his head was as white as the snow.

Speechless I stood before this Napalm Death guy,
And he told me I suffered with no reason why.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he screamed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly grind buff,
And I laughed when I saw him, so bloody fucking chuffed!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
He told me that Relapse just signed Blockheads. (blurbed by some shitty, self-important blog)

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
He pulled out his bass, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of the strings,
He told the me the tale of the on-rolling machines!

He sprang to his band, to Mitch gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like a nuclear missile.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Grindmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

G&P Review: Devalued


I was never a skater--more of a bike guy, myself--but Devalued nail the vibe of the stuff my skater friends would toss on when they'd attempt to ollie park benches or grind the edge of a concrete flower planter. There's a crusty crossover vibe to the snarky sampled Plagues that sounds a tad like mid-era S.O.B. (though not as strong), but it drags me back to completely wasted summer days where I'm sure teenaged me would have embraced the notion that "This Town if Full of Goobers."
While I'm sure Devalued could soundtrack similar wasted days with your friends, when you sit down to listen to Plagues on its own, there's a monochromatic feel to the 10 songs that keep them from really reaching their potential. Just about everything cruises along at the same head nodding tempo without deviating too far into blastbeats or knuckle-dragging sludge (again, a nice skating tempo). So when Devalued do peel off the 54 seconds of blastbeats and Bill Murray snark that are "Coke Dick" or the resin-thick Sleep-gone-hardcore haze of "Mandark," it's a welcome diversion. But those two songs are back to back in the album's center so they're bookended by a bunch of songs that zip by without differentiating themselves from the pack. The real standout to the whole package though, is the judding bass, which pounds through songs with a nice, sludgy insistence.
If you've got an afternoon to kill and municipal infrastructure to grind, Plagues will set the right tone. But it works best as background music rather than the focal point of your attention.

[Full disclosure: the band sent me a download.]

Monday, December 17, 2012

G&P Review: Ashencult

Black Flame Gnosis

Smack dab in the middle of opener "A Glorious Elegy," Philadelphia black metal mystics Ashencult drop a grade-A, certified, gen-yoo-wine, bonafide Tom G. Warrior "ugh." More than a nod back to a stylistic progenitor, Ashencult turn it into a pivotal moment for the song. That guttural ejaculation serves as the song's clutch, gearing down from the frosty hell wind wrath of "A Glorious Elegy's" first half and its miserable, downtrodden ending.
Once you thaw out your soul and stitch up the opened veins, Ashencult drag you through another eight tracks of croaking misanthropy with the thermometer firmly set at the heart of winter. Black metal is my go-to punching bag for everything that's goofy and pretentious about metal, but Black Flame Gnosis managed to keep me entertained. Its spooky reverbed vocals, tremolo picking and occasional blasting took me back a decade to when I would put on the occasional Rotting Christ record to shake things up. Like a lot of black metal, the vocals are mixed too high for my taste, but when they cut out you can really appreciate the guitar's gnarled whorls, swept and curled by stinging nor'easter sleet. The quartet, known only by their initials, are able to nod back to everything traditional black metal fans will want in their shrieking hate fests without coming off as purely derivative. The shift between blastbeats and an MC5-style drum swagger brings a rocking element you wouldn't normally expect from a band that clearly worships at the altar of trve Scandinavian black metal.
Ashencult, like fellow Phillians Infernal Strongheld, kept this grindhead occupied for 41 full minutes for repeated listens. Consider that an endorsement.

[Full disclosure: the band sent me a download.]

Friday, December 14, 2012

At the Movies

"A child is influenced by the make believe," H.R. advised us on Bad Brains' "At the Movies." As any grown man in his mid-30s who considers his vintage Star Wars toy collection to be his retirement plan can aver, there's something about celluloid that sticks with you your whole life. That same kid smashing his Jedi and Sith action figures together after binging on a movie marathon will probably grow up to start a force-themed grindcore band (Sarlacc, I'm looking at you).
There's something about the power of movies that stick with us and influence our perception of the universe and our place in it. So it's no surprise to find out that movies and grindcore are inextricably intertwined whether it's Graf Orlock's stolen lyrics or everybody sampling the same five or six songs.
Some grinders take their love of film a step further, wearing their favorite movies on their sleeve so to speak. Here's to the bands that just straight up swiped their favorite films' names.


Five fingering a movie name for your band is a tradition that is literally as old as grindcore itself. After Michigan's founding fathers of grind sensibly dropped the name Genocide, they went for the more subtle and more effective Repulsion. A pre-rape charge Roman Polanski broke down Catherine Deneuve in this 1965 psychological meltdown movie of the same name. Deneuve turned in a powerhouse performance as a repressed woman who completely cracks up over the course a single murderous afternoon. It's a film whose themes and body count had obvious appeal for the grindcore pioneers.

Paranoid Time

Grindcore has a fundamental distrust of governments and corporations and their unhealthy influence on wider society. Short-lived Michigan grinders (again with Michigan and stealing from movies!) The Parallax View were wont to scream about topics such as "Multi-National Death-Machines." So it's no surprise that the Warren Beaty film of the same name, about a shady corporation that specializes in political assassinations, resonated with their racket. Steeped in post-Watergate paranoia, the film was directed by Alan J. Pakula who also directed its real world counterpart All the President's Men.

I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK

Ryan Page is a man who loves his robots. He's gone to the cyborg well not once by twice with Robocop and Body Hammer. Both films deal with the nature of humanity as we stand on the cusp of a cybernetic evolutionary leap that may leave our biological shells redundant. Anybody who has sat down to ponder Page's Ballardian lyrical view knows those are themes right in his philosophical wheelhouse. But if he starts up a new project called Roy Batty, we may need to stage an intervention.

Adam and Eve and Eve and Eve

A film about a woman with multiple personality disorder seems like it would be a natural fit for the blastbeat treatment so it was a bit surprising that it was still sitting around unclaimed until Virginia band Three Faces of Eve, who many of you many know from the second This Comp Kills Fascists comp,  snapped it up. Psychological disorders and frantic screaming just seem to make a perfect pairing.

SPF 100

Burnt by the Sun stole the name for a movie that was just as arty and angular as they were. The story follows a Soviet officer and war hero who gets caught up in a Stalinist purge.  Everything he thought he knew about his country and his place in it come crashing around him over the course of a single summer day. Burnt by the Sun were a band steeped in humanist politics and the Oscar winning film pairs perfectly with those themes. It's a great example of a band's aesthetic and their inspiration coiling synergistically, creating a shared space between them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

G&P Review: The Kill

The Kill
Make 'Em Suffer

Grindcore honor students The Kill skip a whole grade, leapfrogging the scene's wonted cynical misanthropy and nose-diving straight into abject nihilism. The Australian trio go on a killing spree, taking sharp aim at obnoxious yuppies, pump monkeys, mosh pit etiquette fails, the Olympics and local pols, all with venomous forked tongue lodged firmly in festering cheek.
The Kill's weapon of choice is a large magazine assault rifle firing off the best elements of Insect Warfare grit and Blood I Bleed hostility, hitting and running in under 20 minutes while still racking up an impressive body count that would awe Victor Zsasz. And like Zsasz, The Kill like to keep their murders up close and personal, hacking and slashing with a slicing thrashcore that surfs over the hit and run blast beats. That becomes all the more apparent when they tuck into a perfectly accelerated cover of Slayers "Necrophobic" (complete with squealing solo) and it sounds all of a piece with their original material.
Australia is very rightly making a name for itself as a grindcore haven and The Kill are elbowing their way to the top of that impressive heap. This is most definitely one of the records you need to seek out and hear this year. It's the perfect soundtrack to a hooker-slapping, taxi-bombing, cop-shooting rampage through Grand Theft Auto. Look for it on the year end countdown list for sure.

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

Monday, December 10, 2012

G&P Review: Vimana

The Collapse EP

In The Sandman story arc "Calliope," Neil Gaiman told the story of Richard Madoc, a washed up writer who buys and repeatedly rapes the titular Greek muse to revive his flagging imagination. When Calliope's ex eventually shows up to liberate his former lover, he curses Madoc with an overflowing of ideas. The inspiration comes so rapidly that the writer can't keep up, drowning under the weight of what he sought the most. Something of the same could be said about Vimana, which features former Cephalic Carnage mainstay Zac Joe. The band shove a cornucopia of musical ideas into the scant four songs and 15 minutes that comprise The Collapse, but it’s that very fecundity that stunted my enjoyment of Vimana’s music.
Like Cephalic Carnage before them, Vimana are intent on cramming every possible idea into every song, but they often struggle to develop a coherent through-line that unifies their music.They deploy a full ’80s arcade of blippity blooping guitar noises to explode the song “Destroy Industry.” It’s a five minute loop of frogger croaks and pong-splosions of 8 bit booping that occasionally q-berts its way back to something resembling death-grind. Alternately, “Resent Complacency” is nearly two minutes of the title being howled at you in a deep-chested Nile growl and little else.
Vimana's music far too often feels like three or four much shorter songs shmooshed together with greater (all seven moody minutes of "Fire is Born," paradoxically the longest and most focused of their material) and lesser (the scattershot "Destroy Industry") success. Vimana loom and zoom around like the cosmic chariots for which they are named, but I'd like to see a little more control and a better sense of direction.

[Full disclosure: the band sent me a download.]

Friday, December 7, 2012

G&P Review: Sete Star Sept

Sete Star Sept
Vinyl Collection 2010-2012
Fuck Yoga

Sete Star Sept's vinyl retrospective is not an album. It's a fucking endurance contest. Submitting yourself to 99 tracks of pure audio chaos is like sequentially running a marathon, competing in an iron man contest and then shimmying your way up Mt. Midoriyama. In a wilder and more primitive time, young boys would have skipped all that ritual mutilation, dream quest and hunting trophy bullshit and proved their masculine mettle by sitting through all 75 minutes of this record in a go.
What I'm trying to say is that Sete Star Sept's insane noise grind is not music. It's an experience. It's a bludgeoning phase shift that can, through pure sonic whiteout, force your brain into an altered--if not exactly heightened--state of perception. The deliberately obscure Japanese maniacs whip up a tympanum-rupturing racket that sounds like the infamous Discordance Axis/Merzbow live collaboration being sexually menaced by Gore Beyond Necropsy in some sleazy back alley with no hope of escape. The only contemporary band that comes close to this level of musical confrontation is thedowngoing.
Conventional notions of good or bad are completely inapplicable to Sete Star Sept's idiosyncratic noise. There will be plenty of hardened blastbeat heads who just won't be able to hang with the suffocating noise compiled here. I bet this stuff kills in a five to 10 minute bursts, but subjecting yourself to the album in its entirety will leave you beaten, bruised, sweaty and feeling hollow. Some, like me, may grow to enjoy the sensation but this just isn't a record i seeing gaining wider currency among the grind audience. The five minutes of sustained noise they pass off as "Confession Machine" is particularly piercing. All of that said, I guarantee you that you've probably never heard music that was this indifferent to conventional song structure or audience enjoyment. The target demographic for this one is going to be extremely limited, but if you have any pretensions of appreciating extremity in music, this is a band that needs to be front and center on your radar.

[Full disclosure: the label sent me a download.]

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

G&P Review: Wretch

The Senseless Violence EP

Australian quartet Wretch came to wreck everything and ruin your life with a scathing brew of misanthropic hatred, bonesaw guitar and death metal gurgles. The secret to The Senseless Violence EP is that Wretch is lying to you. This brand of sadism if thoroughly premeditated, purposely distilling the keenest killing edges from death metal and grindcore. The tempos blast but that razor across the femur guitar tone and brewing diarrhea vocals are dredged from the sleaziest septic pools of gore flecked death metal.
True to its name, "Shit Shovel" sounds like about what you'd expect from somebody who toils in human feces all day: a downtrodden death metal anthem about sickness, decay and filth. Other songs like "Purveyors of Senseless Violence" and "Gorging" slap the sickest death vox on top of Bolt Thrower chug like a cave man riding a cruise missile.
If that sounds like it's a heady brew, it is. Wretch writhe through an amazing atmosphere and their songs have character. What they don't have yet is a consistent hook. Maruta and Priapus have also plumbed the fetid depths of death metal tone and grindcore ambition, but those two outfits know how to consistently marry those elements into something that's got heft and a memorable hook. If Wretch work on that part, they'll be a seriously scary bunch of dudes.

Monday, December 3, 2012

They Scream Protest: F.U.B.A.R. Shake the Seven Year Itch

It's been a long seven years since Justification of Criminal Behaviour, but F.U.B.A.R. made it seem like time was flying this year when they dropped the absolutely crushing Lead Us to War. It's a Large Hadron Collider of an album that slams together particles of grindcore and power violence into a universe-shattering big bang of sonic violence. The band never intended to wait this long between albums, but it's a paltry price to pay for an album this crushing.
And it's not like F.U.B.A.R. have been sitting at home twiddling their thumbs for the better part of a decade either. The Dutch band has been steadily dropping split releases, jumping in the van for the occasional tour and generally just taking life as it comes.
"Well … working on a full length got pushed back a couple of times over the last years," bassist Bas said. "It seemed like there were always offers and ideas for split releases. We did a couple of  tours, some kids were born, some physical wear and tear here and there (we don’t get any younger you know). We had  some delay."
Part of the delay  was that F.U.B.A.R. make a clear distinction between how they write to fill a single side of a 7-inch and how they pace and plan a full length record. And anyone who's put on Lead Us to War will appreciate their thoughtfulness.
"To do splits is much easier," Bas said. "For a split 7-inch you need, well, five to seven songs. For a split LP you need 10 to 15 song. But for a full length you need up to 20 or 25 songs depending on the running time. Also we hold on to the belief that a 7-inch is meant for seven minutes of all or nothing. These songs are more easy to write compared to longer songs with different structures etc., which we think we need on a full length with a running time of, well, close to half an hour to keep things interesting."
The current crappy state of the world gave F.U.B.A.R. plenty of lyrical fodder to fill that half an hour as well, Bas said. While F.U.B.A.R.  plot firmly in the middle of the current wave of political grindcore, there's something about the way the band divvies up the lyrics between three vocalists that gives them an honesty and a sincerity that's lacking in a lot of other bands that puke out pro forma political rants.
Speaking of ranting: "We write about what keeps us busy, worries us, what makes our minds boil with rage and fury and make us spew our anger in big chucks to those who try to force their sugar coated happy colored lies and  hatred and prejudices down our throats every day in TV commercials, and happy faced game shows hosted by perfectly shaped females who try to sell us what we don’t need in the name of consumption and give insecure children a reason to start developing eating disorders, lying politicians, soap stars and other scum that should be dismantled," Bas said. "And we try to translate this into sound."
One of the things I love most about Lead Us to War is just how freaking gigantic it sounds. It's a throwback to the mid-90s when I was really getting into grind and bands like Phobia and Excruciating Terror were dropping albums with huge guitar tones. To get that titanic sound, F.U.B.A.R. turned to producer  J.B. Van der Wal, bassist for Dr. Doom, another band that knows something about sounding gigantic. Bas said F.U.B.A.R.  knew he would be someone who could make sure the album didn't come out "too controlled."
"We really wanted to record with JB," he said. "We  all know the productions JB did and,  we were looking forward to record with him. He does the job very well. [F.U.B.A.R.  vocalist] Luc is a good friend of JB, so it was an easy set up. The whole recording process was very relaxed. For us it could not have been better and were more than happy with the result. JB is a dude who knows his craft and knows how to make a record sound the way it should sound."
While seven years may have been a bit of a wait for Lead Us to War, Bas said the band is already working on follow up material, but nothing has been pinned down for sure yet. Until then, we'll just have to wait patiently to see where F.U.B.A.R. lead us next.

Friday, November 30, 2012

G&P Review: Massgrav

Still the Kings

Massgrav toss down the gauntlet to all comers with a simple warning: watch the throne, motherfuckers. The Swedish blastcore kill crew annihilate 19 songs in 18 minutes as they defend their blastbeaten crust punk throne.  Anybody who is the least bit familiar with Massgrav's M.O. already knows that Still the Kings will not be larded down with a single superfluous note, ambient digression or arty farty passage. Instead, this is the sound of pretty much every Swedish d-beat great tossed into a blender set to liquefy. At their most sedate, as with "Brallorna nere igen," Massgrav are still zapping along at clip that would get the skate park popping.
There can be a samey-ness that creeps into Massgrav's sound, but when they hit it and quit in about a quarter of an hour that's a pretty secondary complaint. As one record executive famously said of the Ramones: he would have walked out of their audition but they were done before he could get up. Massgrav probably recognize this so they do break up their punk beatings with the occasional flourish like the minced guitar solo of "Kom ihåg vad du rösta på" in a nod to actually telling the songs apart.
This is the kind of record you reach for when you just want a jolt of pure adrenaline without recourse to subtlety or pretense. Sometimes you just wanna thrash and when you do Massgrav are still the kings.

[Full disclosure: Selfmadegod sent me a download.]

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

G&P Review: Mother Brain

Mother Brain
Straight to Business
Grindcore Karaoke

Mother Brain take their sweet damn time getting down to the grind for an album named Straight to Business. They spend “Introduction,” the album’s first two instrumental minutes, wallowing in sludgy despair. However, I’m willing to let it slide because they didn’t bury it at the end and because their doom haul is actually pretty good. Mother Brain seem to be that rarest of aves that has a firm grasp of what makes a song really click at either end of the speedometer.
Mother Brain, when they do get down to the grinding, recall elements of both Maruta and Pig Destroyer without outright theft. It makes sense because neither of those bands are afraid of varying the acceleration either. The performance is noisy and screeching, with a lived in authenticity to it that upends the trend toward sheeny, shiny production that denudes music of vital energy. Mother Brain also know how to quit when they’re ahead, “Introduction” is the longest track of the lot and when they do blast off into the stratosphere, they keep things exceptionally tight like the 17 raging seconds of “Cut or Uncut.” More often, as with “Old Man,” Mother Brain will mix up the fast with the slow in a single song, refusing the captivity of narrow genre labels. The quality of their craft and the concision of the 11 minute runtime makes Straight to Business compulsively re-listenable and well worth checking out.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Your mom or your local shampoo purveyor probably told you at some point during your impressionable youth that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. While your mom probably meant you shouldn't scratch your balls and spit on the floor during your job interview, it's also applicable to our own little grindcore realm.
As I become older and more crotchety (you damn kids stay off my blog's lawn!), I'm starting to lose patience with albums that take for-fuckin'-ever to really get ramped up. It seems like two out of three records these days start off with an overly long movie sample, a squall of feedback or a slow motion riff that explodes into blastbeats after a few seconds. There's nothing wrong with that per se, but unless you've dreamed up something as cool as Pig Destroyer's "Jennifer," it's probably best to just get straight to the blasting. That's why we're all here.
While I've tackled the ongoing blight of grind bands ending albums on slow songs, I want to be more positive with a tribute to those who know how to put their foot in the door straight away.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blast(beat) From the Past: Exit Strategy

Exit Strategy
United State of Amnesia
Self Released

Now I don't need some smug-ass Canuckle-head talking shit about the United States' backasswards invasion of Iraq just because their government had the good sense to politely decline their invitation to the Coalition of the Willing. If they lack the sack, then they can just go back to their socialized death panel health care system, their polite neighbors and a homicide rate only a third of America's. USA! USA! USA!
But I'll let my patriotic fervor pass when America's 51st state is handing out death-grind as good as Alberta's Exit Strategy. The quartet cluster bomb what's left of the United States' Bush-era dignity with nine death-grind cruise missiles in 37 minutes. Exit Strategy stitch together the best parts of Circle of Dead Children's glower and the doodlee-deedlee riffsplosions of Decapitated. Every so often they dredge up a smidgen of Burnt by the Sun playfulness or the occasional nod to Dying Fetus just to keep things interesting. Though their songs inherited their girth from the death metal side of the family (they're consistently in the three to four minute range, for all you ADHD types), they never seem to drag or lose pace. Instead, Exit Strategy constantly introduce a twisted bit of riffery or a kamikaze scream to keep your attention focused. They're not without the occasional misstep ("The Hand of Victory Holds the Pen of History" veers dangerously close to br00tal slamz territory before the blastbeats slash back in), but on the balance Exit Strategy keep the ship upright even if they're sticking pretty close to their forefathers' playbooks.
Now the snarky asshole American in me might want to know why a quartet of Canadians is so obsessed with the United States' international malfeasance (I'd suggest taking a look at your country's odious hate speech laws one day), but I also can't deny that many of their critiques are also spot on. "Just?" appropriates the pledge of allegiance, holding it up like a perverse funhouse mirror that throws into sharp relief the gulf between America's lofty rhetoric on freedom and human rights and its often compromised implementation.  While large chunks of United State of Amnesia seem to be frozen in the amber of a bygone era of hubristic mission accomplished banners and unknown unknowns, when you remember the current Hoper and Changer in Chief has arrogated the power to kill American citizens with virtually no judicial oversight, then suddenly Exit Strategy's criticisms don't seem so dated. Or so funny.

Monday, November 19, 2012

G&P Review: F.U.B.A.R.

Mongo only pawn... in game of life.
Blazing Saddles

Lead Us to War

The sagacious assortment of anonymous eminences we collectively refer to as "they" assure us that absence makes the heart grow fonder.  Accepting that, ad arguendo, as a truism, my ventricles must be near to bursting with joy (or Five Guys bacon cheese dogs) because it's been seven years since F.U.B.A.R. graced us with Justification of Criminal Behaviour. Sure, they've popped a squat and dropped a bucket full of splits in the long years since, but there's something special about getting a full 30 minute experience from the Dutch power violence-inflected grindcore gang.
F.U.B.A.R. albums always sound wonderfully huge, and Lead us to War is another apatosaurus-sized stomp through 21st century sickness and malaise, courtesy of Dr. Doom bassist J.B. Van der Wal's production job. It also showcases a band in consummate control of their art. While they're not shattering any molds (though "Misplaced Faith" sneaks in some apocalyptic pschedelia and hip hop delivery), F.U.B.A.R. know how to play with time and tempo to generate the largest impact and they're not shy about swiping tidbits from every branch of the speedy punk family tree to make their point.
And they'd really appreciate if you pay attention to that point. Fourth track "I Scream Protest" is the best key to unlocking F.U.B.A.R.'s Cerberus-headed vocal assault on the eroding foundations of civilization. Faced with the iniquity and inequality of a globalized world, the song is a rallying cry to cast down the demons of avarice, violence and intolerance. Those themes may be familiar to the point of tired cliche, but F.U.B.A.R. manage to convey a sincerity that earns them a pass even from my cynical, shrunken Grinch heart.
In another wonderful touch, Lead Us to War feels like it was sequenced for vinyl, with the title track in the middle providing a satisfying emotional closer to what would be Side A before taking a deep breath, flipping the platter and diving back into the grind. F.U.B.A.R. won't lead you to war, but give them a chance and they'll lead you somewhere awesome.

Friday, November 16, 2012

G&P Review: Bangsat/Exogorth

Depart of an Illusion/Split
Grindfather/Incursion/Opaqus/Witch Bukkake

I've always had a soft spot for Bangsat even when, as on their split with Archagathus, the parts just didn't seem to be coming together. There was just something about the Indonesian trio that suggested they were on the cusp of joining that rising tide of awesome Asian grind that includes scene leaders Wormrot as well as Compulsion to Kill and SMG. With their latest 7-inch split, they've really made great strides toward mastering their grind.
Over six originals and an Extreme Noise Terror cover, Bangsat bang heads with the right mix of lo-fi and high energy that keeps me coming back for more blastbeats. The riffs are all '80s hardcore by way of Scum Side A. The barely-holding-it-all-together blastbeasts create the perfect storm of cacophony. The production is nice and hot letting the songs just shimmer off the wax.
Bangsat are backed up by Seattle space slugs Exogorth who would be just about perfect if it weren't for the annoying, monotonous shrieking vocals. That aside, they have a killer command of grindcore song structure. The fast parts thrash, the (relatively) slow parts chug and they know how to expertly powerslide between the two without throwing off the song's momentum. So they rampage through three of their own songs and a Proletar cover (yeah, me neither) before they bring the 7-inch squealing to a close.
This is a record so fun it took four labels to put it out.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Panic! At the Discography: Gasp

There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.

Hunter S. Thompson
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

An Earwig's Guide to Traveling: Collected Vinyl and Unreleased Tracks 1996-1999
Avant Garde Farm

Gasp were fuckin' weird. That's the first thing you need to know. Like Melvins-level weird. They had an album called Drome Triler of Puzzle Zoo People and stage names like Professor Cantaloupe, ferfuckssake. You try to tell me what that's even supposed to mean. But their very weirdness was this SoCal "psychedelic power violence" band's greatest asset: an outre attitude that set them far (FAR!) outside the musical boxes erected by their mid-90s contemporaries (bassist Cynthia got more conventional when she went on to Despise You). Unlike the lightspeed hardcore of the day, Gasp brought a more brooding brand of sludgy noise to the power violence plate and they took their goddamned time about getting there. They mixed up Man is the Bastards bass bludgeoning with weird burbling noises, random jazz freakouts, manipulated tape insanity and other oddities. If Swans had been a power violence band then Soundtracks for the Blind probably would have sounded something like this retrospective. The most beautiful part of An Earwig's Guide to Traveling is that it doesn't feel like a discography record. There's a seamlessness and an intention to Gasp's oddity that stitches together all 65 minutes into a single psychedelic trip, making it the rare discography that feels like a unified album experience. Where Man is the Bastard tried to reconcile man and nature through low slung bass and screeching effects, Gasp were on a trip straight to your pineal gland and if their weird samples and soothing tape loops couldn't lull you into a trance, they would break on through to the other side using brute force. It wouldn't surprise me a bit to hear that The Endless Blockade have Gasp records stashed in their collection because the Canadian power violence revivalists see to be operating on the same cosmic wavelength. While An Earwig's Guide to Traveling is a slow starter, those with the patience to synch to its vibe will find themselves transported, as though all of the songs were written and recorded of a piece rather than trickled out as splits and 7-inches over the course of half a decade. Too weird to live at the time, Gasp's power violence excursions have survived the band's death as new generation's connoisseurs turn on, tune in and freak out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tickets to the Car Crash

Pig Destroyer's first album in five years has routinely been the most anticipated grind record of the year for about the past three years as it continually kept getting pushed back and postponed. But when the band finally put Book Burner in our hands we were left with ... this. I've never before checked my watch in boredom waiting for a Pig Destroyer album to be over. Ever. That just happened with Book Burner.
While I was certainly disappointed, I'm surprised at how quickly the consensus seems to have emerged that Book Burner kinda sucks. I'm just now emerging from my self-imposed media blackout on this (still haven't bothered to watch more than 5 seconds of that awful monkey video). So I've been cocooned for weeks so my impressions wouldn't be tainted by the conventional wisdom.
But given the emotions I've invested in Pig Destroyer over the years, I'm still trying to discern exactly how the disappointment happened. I know that I don't like it, but I'm still trying to discern the why. So I'm opening the floor to theories both here and [shameless plug following] G&P's new Facebook page (where you can be subjected to even more grind-related ramblings that don't even rate blogging)[/shameless plug].
So it's time to play (psycho)pathologist...what went wrong and how does Pig Destroyer get themselves back on track? The floor is yours.

Monday, November 12, 2012

G&P Review: Pig Destroyer

Pig Destroyer
Book Burner

Pig Destroyer have wrenched a number of unpleasant emotions from me over the course of their five album career. Most obviously, there's the morbid fascination you get driving past a nasty fatal traffic accident. Then there's the sickening self-loathing I feel when I recognize the worst aspects of my personality reflected back in the J.R. Hayes' madman scribblings. Hayes' lyrics can also force me to recoil in disgust at his relentlessly jaundiced take on life, particularly his interaction with women. But the one sensation their previous albums had not prepared me for was indifference.
Book Burner is an average Relapse grind record. Taken as that, I'm sure some people will find plenty to like. While I've loved everything Pig Destroyer have done before (Yes, Phantom Limb included), this made almost no impression. The past few years have been tumultuous for Pig Destroyer as they've been plagued by constant turnover behind the drums and a few false starts before they were able to get serious about writing and recording Book Burner and that toll sounds obvious here. This is a band that sounds uncertain and strained.
While the album is full of shorter, grindier songs in the vein of their 38 Counts of Battery material with just a small handful of longer, more involved tunes that take after Phantom Limb, they're missing that primal intensity that set them apart. Scott Hull is one of the most prodigious musical talents in all of metaldom and I kept waiting for that signature hook to come -- a "Sheet Metal Girl," a "Carrion Fairy," a "Thought Crime Spree" -- but it never showed up. The closest we come is the fishtailing end of "Valley of Geysers." You'd also be forgiven for forgetting Blake Harrison is in the band because his talents are being severely underutilized. The much ballyhooed addition of Adam Jarvis seems to have imported the worst aspect of Misery Index as well: that lifeless, emotionless drumming. Jarvis' playing could probably be timed with an atomic clock, but he doesn't generate a single significant emotion throughout 30 minutes of music. If there's a bright spot to be had, it's that J.R. Hayes still sounds pissed as all fuck. The short story he contributes to the expanded edition of the song is nothing memorable, but he's still slitting his musical wrists and laying it all out with his performance. (Likewise the bonus album of punk covers is demo quality, by the numbers takes of familiar songs that doesn't take them anywhere new.)
Pig Destroyer have been at the acme of grindcore for more than a decade. When I defend the notion of grind as art, I point people to Prowler in the Yard and The Inalienable Dreamless. But Book Burner falls short of the standard they've set for themselves with past efforts.  Everybody is entitled to an off album. Hopefully this lineup is stable and the band can gel and really find their footing because next time I want to feel something.

Friday, November 9, 2012

G&P Review: D.E.R./Aberrant

Karasu Killer/Criminal Attack/Everyday Hate/Give Praise

D.E.R. have been having quite a little moment for themselves recently because their 2008 album Quando a Esperanca Desaba has been given not one but two ass kicking reissues. But lest you think that's all these Brazilian blastbeat-mongers have to purvey, they're back again with another 10 songs, sharing wax with Colorado's Aberrant (who got into the reissue action themselves with a 2010 discography record). What they're dropping on your turntable is a Thunderdome of straight grind nastiness.
Four years removed from their last record and D.E.R. haven't bothered to learn any new tricks, and that's probably a good thing. Once again, they grind like From Enslavement to Obliteration is the only record ever made. They're content to keep kicking out jam after jam of unremitting blastbeats and nasty table saw injury guitars without getting too fancy. If Quando a Esperanca Desaba lit up your cortex, these new songs will jolt you another fix. Otherwise, don't expect to be blown away by originality. You'll come out of their half of this psychedelically-flecked periwinkle 12-inch with your socks safely unrocked, but you still have to admire D.E.R.'s ferocious energy.
Meanwhile Aberrant, which features an ex-member of Catheter, is a touch thrashier in spots, but clearly these are two bands that have been prepping from the same playbook. Aberrant's riffs have a tad more complexity and innovation to them than D.E.R., but they whip by at such a clip that it demands close listening to really excavate every interesting nugget that's buried behind the blast beats. And speaking of blasting, the drums are fine when they're going full tilt, but the drummer lacks that sense of timing when it comes to fills and tempo changes. The result is the explosive climax of their songs could have been even more pyrotechnic. (But good news, everyone! Aberrant is in the hunt for a new drummer.)
The split is a cool face off between two bands that share a similar genetic root but have taken alternate paths. It's a great example of divergent evolution in music.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cover Me

The cover song is a time honored tradition that probably dates back to the first couple of cavemen banging out a crazy beat on a log. Anyone who’s ever fretted a chord or thumped a drum has probably burned with the desire to emulate and pay tribute to their musical forefathers, casting themselves into the vicarious shoes of their heroes. If you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance that bands like Napalm Death, Discordance Axis and Phobia probably played a pretty significant role in your musical development. However, I don’t need hear yet another cover of the “The Kill.” There’s very little chance you’re going to top the original.
Maybe it's time for all of us to widen our horizons. Thinking about the ubiquity of covering certain bands led me to brainstorm a wish list of songs outside the grind realm that I’d absolutely love to hear get blastbeaten and the band I think is the best candidate for the job.
Here are my top 10 dream parings:

Monday, November 5, 2012

G&P Review:Nashgul/P.L.F.

Bones Brigade

Nashgul have always had a cinematic quality to their ghoulish grind, whether it's their penchant for sampling horror and action flicks or the flickering celluloid flash of their grisly slasher tunes. El Dia Despues al Fin de la Humanidad was probably the best zombie flick that has yet to crash a cinema near you. But I had never had the same epiphany about Texas' P.L.F. until they paired up with Spain's grind morticians for these seven wonderful inches of madness. Now I'm a willing to drop a few bucks on Kickstarter to roll cameras on their self-professed Texas Grindcore Massacre.
Nashgul know that a good horror flick is much as a matter of anticipation as it is the kills. So they take their sweet time easing you into the proper mood with Blind Dead-paced instrumental opener "The Trip" before they start slitting musical throats. Once they do unleash the beats, they're off at a (heretical to be sure) running zombie canter for the next three jams that pick up right where the last album left off. That should be pretty much all you need to know.
Flipside, P.L.F.'s horror show is certainly more modern in approach, diving camera-first into the ruptured joints and organs of the hapless listeners with two new songs and a seamlessly integrated Phobia cover. They're driven by a guitar tone that skrees like power tools winding up. That tone perfectly serves P.L.F.'s Megadeth on fast forward riffing-- and I mean good Megadave back when he was addicted to heroin instead of Jesus and rightwing crankery. It's good enough to make me overlook the (guest written) lyrics to "Arena of the Gladiator," which are bombastic and bro-tastic enough to make Manowar faint from shame. But dammit this is grindcore Thunderdome and some things just have to be overlooked.
But really, none of the preceding 300 words even should have been necessary. You know god damn well you need this in your life. The cover even features Jesus being crucified in the name of grindcore. How can you pass that up?

Friday, November 2, 2012

G&P Review: Jesus Ain't in Poland

Jesus Ain't in Poland
Freiheit Macht Frei

Jesus Ain't in Poland sound like they could have been cloned from an Afgrund tissue sample. That's a simpler way of saying these Italians sound like a photostat of a mimeograph of a Xerox of Nasum. The Italian band have chosen to play in a pretty crowded sandbox and they have a hard time jostling for facetime against more aggressive peers like The Arson Project, Relevant Few and Sayyadina. Even that name plops Jesus Ain't in Poland in between Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Crost. They just can't seem to differentiate themselves no matter how you look at it.
Musically, Freiheit Macht Frei is a whirlwind of high register keening and blastbeats, but there's no hook that consistently rips at your flesh, making their presence permanent. In fact, Jesus Ain't in Poland are at their best when they back off the blastbeats and led things get low and slow. The stumbling tempo of "The Kingdom" gives the wonderfully grisly bass the space to reverberate, letting the phone cable-thick strings rumble underneath the noise. But Jesus Ain't in Poland can even take that impulse too far. The very next song, "Scarlet Tongues" pushes the downbeat shtick into fumbling, pointless repetition.
Jesus Ain't in Poland have the speed; they just don't have the riffs yet. They're pulling from the right influences, but they need to spend a little bit longer studying what made their favorite songs so great in the first place. Once they pin that down, then they'll be ready to macht grind.

[Full disclosure: Grindpromotion sent me a download.]

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

G&P Review: Standing on a Floor of Bodies

Standing on a Floor of Bodies
Sacrilegious & Culturally Deficient
7 Degrees

Horror film sequels are often terrible and completely unnecessary. There's always the contrivance of trying to explain why the slasher villain/exorcized demon/dissipated ghost/evil corporation actually survived the first film despite being soundly defeated by all appearances. The ham-fisted, cash grab nature of sequels usually means squeezing out everything that made the original serendipitously awesome in name of the most conservative, trite storytelling possible. Mike Stitches of Standing on the Floor of Bodies beat those odds by churning out another grindcore nightmare that's just as awesome, debatably better, than 2010 horrorshow demo Teaching Pigs to Sing. And he did that despite falling into the sequel trap of coming back with a bigger cast, enlisting new vocalist/lyricist Bvnny to back up the beating.
Standing on a Floor of Bodies is built on a foundation of bludgeoning Man is the Bastard bass, choppy programmed drums, keening electronic noise and just a dash of Body Hammer creep-factor, careening between blastbeats and power violence loom the entire time. New body Bvnny helps double up the vocal torment, twinning with Stitches to unleash a grunt 'n' groan counterpoint of pit of hell roars and shrieking, pestilential wailing. The results are 15 minutes of decidedly unwholesome and completely unsettling music that forms a single coherent whole, wrapped up in delightfully sanguinary artwork that looks like it was left over from an old Unsane album. Aside from an off-kilter intermission of half-heard ghost whispers and glimpses of fleeting noise that only ratchets up the  unease, every song on Sacrilegious & Culturally Deficient slams into the next, forcing you into the next uncomfortable moment like that demented carnival ride the Joker set up for Commissioner Gordon in The Killing Joke.
The album ends with almost a minute of placid silence and it's not just an arbitrary addition to stretch the album's runtime. It's a needed respite to regain your psychic bearings after narrowly escaping Standing on a Floor of Bodies' demented blastbeat funhouse. But don't think you've escaped. With an effort this good, you know they're bound to make a sequel.

[Full disclosure: 7 Degrees sent me a review copy.]

Monday, October 29, 2012

G&P Review: I Get My Life Views From Webcomics

I Get My Life Views From Webcomics

I Get My Life Views From Webcomics is a whole hell of a lot better than any band with a name that gawdawful stupid probably has any right to be. IGMLVFW (even that is a fucking mouthful) stride the irradiated wastes of nuked out white noise holocaust that is the current demesne of thedowngoing. Everything about Alone is rough and severely underproduced, but it works perfectly in context. The album sounds like it was recorded in that leaky, musty basement where Victorian families would stuff the more unsightly genetic deformations that warted up the family tree.
Webcomics come armed with hilariously involved song titles that take longer to read than to play. Titles like "I'd Name A Song After You But I'm A Little Scared To Do So" and "Wintermute Always Just Had Some Kinda Girly Superiority Complex" don't quite melt away into the Salvador Dali surrealism of The Locust, but that territory can certainly be seen from their rehearsal space. Despite the noise, their songs often have a playful edge to them as well, such as the skipping riff of “Smoke And Mirrors Has Never Been This Literal" or the scurrying “Tiny Ants Foraging For Forest Foods Aplenty" that match, if not up, the weirdness quotient.
The whole affairs ends with “Skramz Week,” nine minutes of largely inaudible studio banter buried under placid guitar strumming of the sort Ben Carr perfected with 5ive and The Theory of Abstract Light. The band spend much of “Skramz Week” in an extended digression about the art of hidden tracks at the end of albums and openly speculate whether anyone will bother sitting through any of this in the furtive hope that there’s actually a song buried in there somewhere (SPOILERS: not really). This is usually the kind of pointless fuckery that gives me the dry heaves, but I’ll give this one a pass because the whole thing is so hilariously meta I could see it popping up in the hover text of an XKCD comic one day. And there are much worse places to get your life views than from Randall Munroe.

[Full disclosure: The band sent me a download.]

Friday, October 26, 2012

G&P Review: Warfuck

The Weak & the Wicked

Warfuck are as grim and unforgiving as a battlefield amputation, but the French duo have just about mastered that hooky breed of grind that made Mieszko Talarczyk the patron saint of modern blastbeats. That makes perfect sense when you recall "Warfuck" was an early Nasum tune. Other reference points might include Insect Warfare and Wormrot, but the Nasum influences come through the strongest to my ears, and Warfuck are strong enough on their game that they could really live up to that comparison with time.
Eleven sample happy songs (Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet makes multiple appearances) in 22 minutes finds these Frenchmen in fine fettle. "Modern Disease" exemplifies Warfuck's flair for grind tunes with actually riffs and hooks. "Innocence" is yet another two minutes of headbanging goodness. Even when the Nasum influences are their most overt (the noodling middle of "Straight to the Aim" nods back to the bass break of "Scoop") it's never outright theft so much as a high fiving fuck yeah.
The only knock is that Warfuck drag somewhat when their songs exceed about 80 seconds. But by "drag" I mean become a lot more average because everything else is spot on raging to perfection. This is absolutely one of the best upstarts I've heard all year.

[Full disclosure: The band sent me a download.]