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.