Even though to the untrained ear, grindcore and death metal seem much alike, the two genres approach their work striving for very different things. Death metal is refined and focused; they have their sights set on a target and are precise in their execution. If you like weapon analogies, they are the assault rifle of the music industry. By contrast, grindcore is more akin to a cluster bomb. Horrendously imprecise; they’re pissed off but they seemed to be pissed at everything, causing chaos in their wake – and it’s here that what they’re playing is often less important than the energy at which it’s played. It seems rare enough for an artist to nail one of these concepts, so you can imagine my usual scepticism when approaching a band that attempts to do them both, nonetheless one that has decided to throw some technicality into the mix. Yet somehow, nailed it they have.
The key in getting it all to work is balance; you want to be precise and defined in the composition, supplying no shortage of aggressive riffs and demonic growls to leave no question as to the track’s intention. At the same time, the music can’t appear too too mechanical or predictable, which is where the drums are given their time to flail wildly whilst the guitars shred in their chaotic grindcore dissonance. Breakdowns emerge, but only as a break from the preceding chaos; a brief interlude in which we are permitted to catch our breath, and at no point used to replace guitar solos. In much the same manner, the technicality also needs to find itself a balance, never descending to mindless displays showcasing their abilities but instead, used lightly to add a few twists and break up what can often otherwise become a monotonous affair.
Despite the modern influences, for the most part, this is a band that takes its cues from the old school and the production is no exception. Everything is coated in dirt and given a raw sheen, muddying the guitars just short of the point of incomprehensibility, but it’s undoubtedly the drums that serve as our guide throughout. Often heard blasting throughout the slower passages; it’s all in the manner he switches between a refined beat, complementing the guitars to emphasis the notes being played, and his more chaotic and frenetic pace that allows for this genre combination to work so effectively. Quite often, you’ll barely notice the guitars for the drum lines, but it’s down to the layers on top that the album’s flavour is provided, constantly throwing in the little ways of defying our expectations. The vocalist occasionally leaves his variety of deep growls – both inhaled “Suffocation” style and exhaled – for a higher pitched scream, or the guitars will suddenly play something surprisingly melodious whilst not sounding out of place, only to soon return to the chaos from whence it came.
Now is not the time for these guys to get complacent. That they’ve got it all right is just the first step and now they should be questioning their next. They should be thinking of how to drop their breakdowns out of nowhere, like a trapdoor beneath the listeners feet. How they can layer in even more displays of technicality whilst retaining a sense of unpredictable chaos; creating even more memorable riffs and finding new ways to blind-side listeners with unexpected twists and turns. This debut is perhaps remarkable only in getting right what so many seem to have difficulty with, and as promising as that is, now is the time to push to do even better. It’s already like crack; incredibly more-ish, capable of getting your blood pumping in a way that can’t be healthy, and entirely impossible to fall asleep to. Yet still, I dare them to take one step further into the anarchic abyss.
Highlights: Abd-ru-shin, Force Fed, Perpetual Apathy, Razor Ramone
About the Author
Position: Reviewer, Ranter, Reluctant Co-Editor
Location: London, England
Genre Preferences: Progressive, Avant-Garde, Experimental, Technical, Djent, Trad, Black
Favourite Artists: Adagio, Anthem, Baroness, Chthonic, Death Angel, Decadence, Fjoergyn, Gargoyle (Jpn), Haken, Kalevala, Leprous, Lucifugum, Pin-Up Went Down, Plus-Tech Squeeze Box, Project Hate MCMXCIX, Redemption, Sigh, Sikth, Tesseract, Thy Catafalque, Von Hertzen Brothers, Zigoku Quartet
Having held an internet presence using this alias for over a decade now, odds are if you've come across the name in the past it was myself. As for my musical history I suppose it's appropriate to say I arrived on my obsession backwards, for years holding little more than disdain and derision for a genre so seemingly obsessed with pointless brutality over composition; the likes of Deftones, Korn and Slipknot that serves as an introduction for so many flooding my musical palette, deterring my interests and yielding my only interpretation of what the genre involved. Ironically, it was Cannibal Corpse's “Vile” that first corrected me; played at high volume at a youth club by an elder metal fan angrily pushing the bleeding ears of the Green Day fans away from the stereo. I left that day clutching borrowed copies of Children of Bodom's “Hatebreeder,” the aforementioned Cannibal Corpse album, Metallica's “Cunning Stunts” on VHS and a whole new musical interest.
Arriving at a number of forums, I soaked up knowledge like a sponge, progressing through the stages of opinionated idiot to an arrogant elitist on a crusade before finally calming down, chronicling the last four years of my journey of discovery with self-published reviews. In the decade since my initial discovery, my tastes have mellowed and expanded to encompass most of the metal genre and beyond, constantly in search of something new and exciting, always seeking to expand my own musical knowledge. Black Metal with a Didgeridoo? Death Metal Disco? Trance Metal? Sign me up. I also have a strange obsession regarding the music of Asia, but I can't explain that one.
I have long since devoted far too much of my time writing - much to the amusement of my family who note the science-obsessed child now does far more writing than the English Lit. student - and have been self-publishing reviews since 2008; archives of music reviews can be found here and Film can be found here, though since joining Axis both have largely become defunct. I'm a keen globetrotter and, too, document my travels here, on an old blog originally designed to publish a novel that was abandoned due to time constraints.