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.]

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Edmonton Rock City: Detroit Have a History of (Power) Violence

Sam, we hardly knew ye
Singers in Detroit seem to have a lifespan rivaling Spinal Tap drummers. We've yet to bid farewell to 2012 and the prolific Edmonton power violence band has gone through a hat trick of mic-men. Exeunt Rhys and Sam; enter Cory stage right. Though they have two more months to make it a four pack on the year, band mainstays Isaac (drums) and Emmett (guitar) seem to think that noob Cory just might have some staying power.
"Singers are pretty much like bass players, you don't reeeaaally need them," Emmett hedged. "Fortunately, now we have someone who can do both! But Sam, of course, will be dearly missed, and I'm super stoked to be playing with Cory. He's got super awesome Infest-esque vocals that land perfectly in the middle between Rhys and Sam, and as for stability, this will have to be the most stable we've ever been as far as singers go."
Cory takes over for Sam, who brought the beast on Detroit's self-titled hit and run from just a few months ago. The band knew from the beginning that Sam would be a stopgap after the band lost first vocalist Rhys, and the new guy was careful to pay tribute to his immediate predecessor.
"Sam is an amazing vocalist with some crazy range. I definitely don't have that range of super intense growls and crazy high screams," Cory said. "The best I can describe it is that this is probably the angriest Detroit has ever sounded. As far as stability goes, I like to think my run with Detroit is going to outlast Sam's. Everyone knew he was moving from Day 1, and that he would only be in the band till they found a more permanent vocalist. So far it seems everyone is reacting positively to what I bring to Detroit."
Cory finds the band coming off a musical high. They've put out two solo efforts, a split with Robocop, and a spot on the Monomaniac compilation in 2012 and have an upcoming split with Dysplasia (Cory's prior band where he logged bass duty), a split tape with Shooting Spree and Prison Violence as well as an upcoming full length record. While the Dysplasia split will be the final release to feature Sam, Cory will set vocals to tape (or bytes) from there.
Their recent self-titled record found Detroit at their most ferocious and violent, not so much straddling as bludgeoning the line between grindcore and modern power violence. Isaac said playing shows with Shooting Spree, sixbrewbantha and Cooked and Eaten pushed Detroit into faster, more ambitious territory. It's something the drummer plans to carry over to the band's first full length.
"I wanted to write more grindcore-influenced blasting noise," Isaac said. "My vision for the LP is mostly that same kind of ‘grindviolence’ while still retaining some of the more experimental elements, but we're only half done writing it, so it could still go in a number of directions. Plus Sam grinded way harder then Rhys did, so going that direction felt pretty natural."
Detroit describe the new songs as a blend of their recent grinding violence lashings, maybe with a tad of experimenting for kicks and assorted impromptu madness.
"We have about half of it recorded already so I think when we overcome our laziness we'll throw a couple of songs on the internet, but who knows how long it will take us to write/record the last half," Emmett said. "I can't say I want to stray too far from the sound we have going on right now in regards to experimentation. However, a lot of our newer songs were written on the spot, so who knows what will happen. Essentially I'm just having way too much fun ripping off my favourite bands."
"The Robocop split was recorded about a year and a half ago now, and on there we were all like 'no distortion for like 30 seconds!,' or 'clean singing!,' but since then we’ve grown a ton as a band and we can do way better now," Isaac added. "I’ve also got way better at drums even since the self-titled EP, so the tempos have picked up a bit more and there’s more weird, tech shit going on. It’ll probably end up on [Grindcore Karaoke] but IF ANY LABELS WANNA PUT IT OUT ON VINYL HIT UP WE REALLY WANNA HAVE IT ON A 12-inch."
[Ya think dude really wants to see it come out as a physical record, eh? But if you've seen the gorgeous job Give Praise did on the Detroit/Robocop split you can maybe understand his enthusiasm.]
For Cory's part, he said he's waiting for his crack at the studio (aka the basement) to start layering on his vocals.
"It's always awesome to show up at jam and find out these guys have written even more songs. It really keeps thing refreshing knowing that aside for one or two staples, our set list is going to be different every show," he said. "I'm extremely excited for the full-length, and would love to keep grinding out more splits if people want to do them with us. I've been in a band for two years that has yet to really release anything (The upcoming split with Detroit being the first), so the idea of being in a band that already has even more lined up gets me extremely stoked."
What also stokes Cory's furnace is the cyclical resurgence of the power violence sound, rediscovered, reincarnated and reinvigorated for a new century of pissed off teens desperate to push punk to its physical and emotional borders. Unlike Nietzsche's horror in the face of the eternal recurrence, Detroit embrace the latest wave of abbreviated, blasting hardcore and the fellow travelers who brought the sound back.
"The resurgence PV 'scene,' if you will, seems populated by a lot of teens and young adults like ourselves who never got to be a part of that original '90s power violence era," Cory said. "We never got a chance to see our favorite bands live. We never got to walk down the street in a Crossed Out shirt that we got at the show a few days before. We're the same pissed off kids just 20 years late to the game. We want to fill that void that seems to exist in our lives and follow in the footsteps of what our grinding forefathers did before us. That said, like the guys put it, we don't want to worship the same bands or rip them off; we just want to play music as loud and fast as we want and get stoked on it."

Monday, October 22, 2012

G&P Review: Vortex of Clutter

Vortex of Clutter
The Ghosts of New Generation
Self Released

Vortex of Clutter is a pretty apt name because there doesn't seem to be a death metal innovation in the past 15 years that these Turks haven't appropriated and tried to shoe-horn in to The Ghosts of New Generation. It's not enough to make their four song EP unlistenable, but the tunes careen from death to hints of tech to chunky grooves without ever settling into something you feel you can really wrap your ears around. And that's all before they start working in the Iron Maiden vocals.
Case in point, typical effort "Patriarchy" meanders across the death metal map without taking up residence in any one locale long enough to make more than a cursory survey of the terrain. At its core, it's a hefty death metal tune that nods in the direction of melody without going full Gothenburg. The fact that it's the most deathly of their metal tunes overall makes it the most palatable.
Vortex of Clutter's one stab at a signature move is the Bruce Dickenson vocal wailing. They start sneaking it in on the song "Abdul," craftily mixing the highs deep in the song to double the death metal grunting. However, by the time "Cocktail" screeches on to the scene, the classic air raid siren takes center stage.
It's not the Vortex of Clutter are untalented -- quite the opposite, in fact. On a technical level, they achieve every mode they try. What they still need to master is combining all of those disparate impulses into coherent songs that develop their own identity. If they can harness the vortex and clear out the clutter, this would be a much stronger effort.

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

Friday, October 19, 2012

G&P Review: Noisear

Turbulent Resurgence

The first and most important thing to know about Turbulent Resurgence: there is absolutely nothing even vaguely resembling “Noisearuption” to be found here. Sure, you have to sit through totally disposable intro/outro/intermission tracks, but they’re all a minute long and easily skippable. Other than that, Noisear don’t really deviate an iota from their wonted M.O.  Dorian Rainwater’s elastic riffs get twisted and mobiused around Bryan Fajardo’s Swiss watch-precision drumming. The Noisear formula is pretty familiar and settled at this point: Human Remains’ weirdest noises, slick Discordance Axis aggression, shards of Mortalized’s extra digit guitar wizardry, head-scratching Gorguts excursions and just a soupcon of James Plotkin’s most outré grind experiments get pureed and synthesized into a smooth shelled sonic suppository.
While the results are familiar, Turbulent Resurgence is still a bit of a mixed bag. Tipping the positive side of the ledger, the album is a lean 18 minutes, making it Noisear’s tightest, most compact offering in quite a bit. It’s a refreshing change from the overlong (not even counting “Noisearuption” on Subvert the Dominant Paradigm). However, Turbulent Resurgence is also lacking the latter’s dervish frenzy as well. The production is flatter and more to the point, as are most of the songs. That means there are fewer dizzying heights and murky lows to be found. Instead, Turbulent Resurgence finds Noisear grinding along at a (relatively speaking, this is Noisear, after all) even keel.
None of that is to say Turbulent Resurgence is a disappointment. For long time Noisear fiends, the latest record will excite all the appropriate cortical nodes. For newcomers, the leaner running time is the perfect entry into the band’s extradimensional aspirations. While casual grind fans will probably enjoy this one just fine, your serious blastbeat junky might walk away hoping for just a little bit more.

[Full disclosure: Willowtip sent me a download.]

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Minute Men

If you haven't availed yourself already, Blastbeat Mailmurder Records (aka Panos Agoros of Dephosphorus fame) is up with the first volume of the Monomaniac 7-inch series. The concept is Panos rounded up a handful of kickass bands and gave them one minute each to do what thou wilt. Volume one features forehead crushing contributions from 10 bangers including Cloud Rat, Sete Star Sept, Detroit, Body Hammer, Head Cleaner and three(!!!)  contributions from Australian dervishes thedowngoing in 60 seconds or less.
Panos has done a fabulous job putting this package together and I'm already drooling at the thought of volume two. I played a small role hooking Panos up with a few of the participants, so I won't be giving it a full review (but seriously, it kicks all kinds of ass). However, I just wanted to shove this one under your noses  if you haven't checked it out already. The 7-inch is gorgeously done, but you can also check it out as a pay-what-you-want download at Blastbeat Mailmurder's Bandcamp page. Do yourself a favor and give this one a listen.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Five: Look Back in Anger

You're hurt because everything is changed. Jimmy is hurt because everything is the same. And neither of you can face it. Something's gone wrong somewhere, hasn't it?
John Osborne
Look Back in Anger

Five. Fucking. Years.
It blew my mind when I realized that the blog's fifth anniversary was rapidly approaching. Holy shit. Some days it feels like forever. Plenty of other days it just feels like I'm a clueless n00b flailing about with no direction or purpose. But somehow another blogaversary is upon me.
So once again, I have to thank every single one of you who had dropped by, read my maundering, left a comment, sent an email, answered an email or shared a kick ass album recommendation. I've been listening to grindcore (probably more than is healthy for a well-balanced person) for a hell of a long time now and for some reason I just don't get bored with it. Not a day goes by where I'm not listening to it, thinking about or jotting down notes for stories and ideas I want to develop later, interviews I want to do, trends I want to dissect.
I've met some truly amazing people, interviewed some personal inspirations and found a fascinating community of like-minded freaks over the last five years. So that's what you've given me even though I've written some absolute bullshit over the years. In honor of my fifth anniversary, here's the top five failures I slapped my name on.

Something's Bugging Me

Hey let's start at practically the very beginning, my very first Grind in Rewind back in 2007. I'm not here to recant picking Pig Destroyer's Phantom Limb as album of the year (some of you hate it; I still really dig it). Nope, the facepalming failure comes further down the list where I round out the top five with Total Fucking Destruction, Sayyadina, Graf Orlock and ... The Locust. Yes, I like The Locust. I think they're completely underrated for how innovative they were. But 2007 was also the year Insect Warfare put out World Extermination, an undeniably kick ass album that I'm sure will be lauded as a genre classic with enough time.
Early on in my blogging career I fell into a pitiful trap: pointless contrarianism. I stuck The Locust on my best of list as a way of thumbing everyone else in the eye, but there's absolutely no way it should have been on the list lieu of Insect Warfare. Going against the grain doesn't mean you're an iconoclast. Sometimes it just means you're an idiot who's trying too hard.

Latin Implosion

I wanted the first story I ever wrote for the blog, about grindcore's relationship with the military, to be the template for everything that came after. I wanted to move beyond album reviews and band interviews (while I see the value in both of those to provoke fascinating conversations) to strive for something deeper and more topical. I wanted to do more stories about ideas and trends than necessarily about bands and their latest record. Not every idea was successful. Which brings us to the underbaked failure that was my story about Latinos in grind. It was a decent enough idea that just never really gelled into something more profound than ... hey look at all these latinos who grind. The only good thing I can say about that story is that it introduced me to Jerry Flores of Excruciating Terror/Bloody Phoenix who is one of the coolest, most helpful people I've met in grind. Lo siento, senores.

Feminism Uber Alles

And then there was the pointless sexism in the lede of my Infect review. That was just unforgivable, unfunny and a total asshole move. I'm better than that. I swear. For all our blather about how progressive and accepting we claim punk and grind are, women still have to put up with enough bullshit without me piling on with sexist bullshit in a lame attempt to be funny.

Your Album Reviews Suck

I've mentioned before that I suck ass when it comes to writing brutal reviews of shitty albums. It's actually something I've been consciously working on. I try to be more critical because everything can't be the most brutalest brutality that ever brutalized. Sometimes you have to point out that shit kinda sucks. But that was really hard for me at first. So I pulled punches on my reviews of albums like F.A.M., Confusion and Agenda of Swine (especially Agenda of Swine). I doubt I've listened to those three records a total of 10 times since I wrote my reviews. In fact, ever since then I've deliberately tried to slow down, spend a few weeks with an album before I even begin jotting down notes for a review so hopefully by then I can have some sense of how an album holds up to repeated listens rather than getting swept up in first impressions.

Punk Ass Bitch

Hey, the halfbaked assholery isn't completely behind. Here I was indulging in it as recently as July.
Like I said before, I'm constantly jotting down ideas for posts. Some of them need months (occasionally, years) to marinate before they come to fruition. A lot of them radically change from my first conception as I develop them. And then there was How Low Can a Punk Get?, a post I banged out over a weekend about punk tropes that really bother me. That was definitely a post that could have spent quite a bit more time in the incubator. Case in point, Trey Azaghthoth's Quake III Clan schooling me on how I had completely misunderstood Black Flag's "White Minority," which is probably something I could have figured out with like half a second of fucking Googling. And obviously, I completely missed that lighthearted, humorous tone that I was shooting for.
Luckily, you guys and gals are the kind of readers that will push back against my poorly conceived bullshit and keep me honest. I appreciate you calling me out and putting me back in my place when I've completely lost the script.

So there it is. Five years. Five examples of completely public failure. Hopefully the next half decade goes more smoothly than the first, but I guarantee I'll probably be able to write the exact same post in another five years. I'll just go ahead and apologize now.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Namesake Series: Fermi Paradox

Physicist Enrico Fermi was a puzzled dude. The universe is a big place. (I mean, you just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.) So with all that space out there and plenty of stuff filling it up, you would expect to be tripping over interstellar life every time you picked up your junk mail. And yet, humanity has not made a single alien friend. That incongruity is known as Fermi's Paradox. It's also quality grindcore fodder.   

Most recently, Dephosphorus crowned the astounding Night Sky Transform with an ode to Fermi's headscratcher, a meditative blotch of gray sky paranoia intoned by guitarist Thanos Mantas.

Sci-fi and grind go together like saucer visits and ass probings, so naturally Dephosphorus weren't the first to keep watching the sky. To celebrate the (pants-tighteningly awesome) news that Gigantic Brain's two year carbonite deep freeze is over (as a two piece now!), here's Virginia's greatest digi-alien-grinder giving his spin on "Fermi Paradox" from 2009's Betelgeuse EP.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

G&P Review: Dephosphorus

Night Sky Transform
7 Degrees

Night Sky Transform represents that moment when Dephosphorus shrugged off the tyranny of Earth's gravity to slingshot out into the silent, contemplative majesty of the star-dusted cosmos. Having punched roughly through the atmosphere with the astounding Axiom, Dephosphorus now feel free to slow down and behold the wonder that entranced Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking and Neil Degrasse-Tyson. Night Sky Transform is, overall, a slower, more cryptic effort that patiently unspools its secrets over several listens. While bangers like "Cold Omen" fire up the ion engines to keep that forward momentum, Dephosphorus have truly transcended grindcore's limitations into something singular.
Like Dr. Dave Bowman's evolution into the star child in 2001, the DNA of Dephosphorus' grindcore past can still be sussed out, but it's been exploded and reincarnated into something unique. "Starless" still grinds, but it's just one scintillant star in a varied constellation of musical themes and modes. It's the digressions that define Night Sky Transform. With "The Fermi Paradox," guitarist Thanos Mantas gets his turn to step to the mic and intone the song's stately chorus, which builds upon and improves on "Stargazing and Violence" from the Great Falls split. "Unconscious Excursion" brings in Ryan Lipynsky of Thralldom/Unearthly Trance to meld his crusty black magic to the Greeks' skyclad visions of space and time.  The uncertain "Aurora" ends Night Sky Transform with the tentative anticipation of first interstellar contact with intelligent life on a hesitant note. It's a fraught moment that could have been the equivalent of old flying saucers that ended with The End...? but instead is far more poignant and aware of humanity's cosmic insignificance.
For all of the carefully considered art at on display, Night Sky Transform just didn't immediately grab me by the cortex the way Axiom did (Perpetual Strife disagrees; Perpetual Strife is wrong). The meditative nature means Night Sky Transform needs more time to seep into your pores, taking up one transcendent molecule at a time via musical osmosis. Just because my connection wasn't immediate doesn't mean the journey wasn't worth it.
I once again have to marvel at the astonishing packaging job done by 7 Degrees. The gorgeous gatefold and nice thick vinyl set the perfect mood for Dephosphorus' intergalactic excursions, and investing in the physical product will also net you the obligatory download code and an excellent album art poster to spruce up your mission control center.

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

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Evolved as One: When Grinders Go it Alone

In a nation of nearly 5 million souls, it's mathematically unlikely that Papirmollen is the only grind fiend calling Norway home, but you wouldn't guess that from his music. The Parlamentarisk Sodomi/PSUDOKU multi-instrumentalist prefers to operate solo. Think of it as a form of quality control.
"Bands with more than one person can have a bigger chance of low-quality results because of mass suggestion,  misunderstandings and contagious diseases," he said. "The members make each other believe they are creating beautiful  masterpieces when it truly is godforsaken stupid vomit music. When you're alone, you have a unique awareness of the  fact that roughly everything you make is tragic, unlistenable, no-quality shit, forevermore. You dislike most of your music so much that you wouldn't even play it to your worst enemy or their friends and loved ones, or anyone else. The  rest of the music you release."
The popular conception of the one man band probably involves some tortured black metal misanthrope whose Nietzschean soul shrivels at the thought of contact with the untermenschen. But the last decade has seen a boom in solo grind projects. Driven by necessity, aided by technology and pursing a single-minded musical focus, solo musicians are holding their own with full bands and pushing grindcore further into the uncharted edges of the map. Along with Papirmollen's outfits, Gigantic Brain, Body Hammer, Standing on a Floor of Bodies, Jesus of Nazareth, Liberteer, Exploding Meth Lab and Wadge have all filtered grindcore through one man's idiosyncratic vision.

Friday, October 5, 2012

G&P Review: Detroit

Grindcore Karaoke

As if one top 10-worthy album this year in Pusher and a kick ass split with Robocop  weren't enough to crown 2012 already, Canadian power violence overachievers Detroit are rocking your earholes yet again with a tidy self-titled record that may just be their best one yet. Through some power of musical osmosis, Detroit seem to have absorbed the musical violence splitmates Robocop shed on Dead Language, Foreign Bodies, turning in their tightest, most abrasive performance yet.
Their self-titled album, with a new singer in tow, is not a huge departure for the Canadian neo-violence collective. Rather it ups the ante on everything they’ve done before, ruthlessly churning through six new originals and an Infest cover in less than four minutes.
Everything about this effort is raw and burly and noisy and perfectly violent. The new singer is not much of a change, but he brings a tad more muscular delivery to the mic that nicely dovetails the band's more aggressive stance. Album centerpiece "Without" is one of those slow build bits of pyrotechnic brilliance that radiates out in chest-crushing shockwaves. "The Only Itch That Never Needs Scratching" rodeos the kind of slab-sided pounding you expect from Iron Lung in a concise 25 seconds. Waving goodbye with a rousing rip through Infest's "Feeling Mean" just punctuates the tone Detroit set from the album's first note.
Way back at their earliest demo I (half jokingly) dubbed the Detroit guys Robocop Jr. Since then they’ve shared wax with that band and now they’re moving into the same spiky sonic territory as the (now bicoastal) Maine bastards.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

G&P Review: Wage Garnisher

Wage Garnisher
Suckin' on Silicone

You know that move lots of bands like to pull at the start of an album where the music is all muffled and distant for a bit before it explodes into the foreground? That's what Wage Garnisher are like, minus that cathartic foreground exploding thing. Simply put, Suckin' on Silicone's hardcore and grind sounds garbled. It's distant, flat and emotionally removed. And unfortunately, these are apparently the re-recorded versions because the originals from the band's split with SMG sounded worse.
While a interesting trio of singers keep things shifting on the vocal front, the music aspect just isn't being done any favors. The guitar is absolutely unintelligible, a faint static hiss with the exception of the weird buzzing notes of "IV." Case in point, first song "Bridge Burner" sounds like it's swimming through a pool swamped with molasses. It's the incarnation of the slow motion feeling you get in nightmares when you're being chased only without the suspense.
Like I said before, the Cerberus-headed vocal triumvirate are the real stars. Don't like a particular style (the inarticulate, monotone gurgle at the end of "II" were full of sound and fury, signifying nothing), just wait for it to change. The pissed, rasping snarl of "I" was a particular highpoint to the whole affair.
Even though Suckin' on Silicone only requires four minutes out of your life, it's a tough one to recommend. That said, it sounds like somebody has stopped garnishing their wages and they could afford a better studio session for their split with Lt. Dan. Go check that out instead.

Monday, October 1, 2012

G&P Review: Zodiac

7 Degrees

Menschenstaub is that rare album that seemingly does its job competently and with aplomb, but still leaves me feeling disappointed because it rapidly evaporates into nothingness. Crusty death punks Zodiac, musically, are custom built to tick off everything that sets my neurons a-tingle, but on Menschenstaub (People Dust) seems to slip from memory the second it's over. Is there some bizarre category of good albums that just don't quite succeed despite being perfectly acceptable?
The Germans hybridize fellow countrymen Keitzer and Audio Kollaps, pairing the former's Bolt Thrower chug with the latter's crusty grind. That forms the spine of Zodiac's attack, but then they dress it up with a patina of various metal flourishes, some successful (the early At the Gates swirl of "Genullt"), some less so (the pointless electronic twaddle at the end of "Abwesenheitsnotiz").
That protean nature means Zodiac never give themselves over fully to any particular musical impulse. But even with the myriad styles at play on Menschenstaub, Zodiac keep them all balanced and in check. For all that though, the band actually leaves very little impression. Menschenstaub is absolutely enjoyable when it's contributing to my inevitable tinnitus--the guitars are wonderfully thick, the vocals are deep and pissed and the rhythm section is tight--it seems to evaporate once the ten songs are over and nothing stands out in particular. I can't even pinpoint what makes it ephemeral (maybe it's only me), but I'm looking for something more memorable from them.

[Full disclosure: 7 Degrees sent me a download.]