Bump ‘n’ Grind – Highbrow Edition
Strainium on mah cranium.
I’m a woefully simple man, and there is woefully little straightforward grind featured here today. We’ve got a variety of approaches to the genre, some of which are too dang much for my puny mind to handle. But maybe you will fare better. Let me know in the comments.
While starting out with pure grind, it quickly becomes apparent that Crawler don’t mind doing their name justice and slowing it down: the opener soon (d)evolves into mid-tempo sludge, to which the acerbic vocals are suited extremely well. Even the most straightforward grind number on here (“Cold Moldy Bones”) doesn’t finish without dipping into some highly appealing, stomping groove parts. These frequently fill the space between the rather short bursts of blasting throughout the EP, and as evidenced by said opener, they can go slower still; the devastating sludge of “Vile Breath” serves as a taste of what’s to come in the comparatively monumental eight-minute closer “The Conclusion”. After a quiet intro and a doom part featuring a cello, the song tries to fight its way up into a higher tempo, but always gets dragged down into the mire again.
This didn’t really click with me on the first spin; it seemed very “been there, heard that.” Riffs were too familiar, and song structures too predictable. Upon pulling my head out of my ass and replaying it, however, I’ve decided it absolutely deserves what modicum of exposure I can give it here. While it won’t win awards for novelty, I’m not gonna pretend it has to. For one thing, there’s the wonderfully crunchy, buzzing guitar sound (if they use an HM-2, they’re not as ridiculously vocal about the fact as others). For another, the quality of the songs is quite on par with acts like Nasum (hence the familiarity, perhaps), giving you four quick hits of politically charged, palpably pissed off grind. And last but not least, “The Ungrateful Deceivers” deviates a bit from the rest, making an excursion into the very kind of “sad crust” sound that can become annoying if overdone (see Martyrdød), but is here dished out in the right way and the right dosage to serve as a refreshment rather than a nuisance.
I’ve liked Faršas quite a bit ever since their countrymen Sisyphean introduced us to them last year. Their last full-length ticked a lot of boxes for me, offering blistering speed with occasional d-beats and the classic dual vocal approach. Two of those things are absent here; vocals are all shriek, no grunt, and the drums focus solely on blast beats. The sheer energy is still highly entertaining though, so this is far from an egregious shortcoming, especially considering the brief run-time and the unexpected, very enjoyable instrumental towards the end.
This is the first I’d heard of Syntax, and they struck me as a rather peculiar beast at first, although as a fan of Beaten To Death, the mix of grind drumming and vocals with melodious guitars often resembling a post- or prog rock sound should not have seemed so incongruous to me. Often moving away from straightforward shredding to something much more well-enunciated, the guitarwork provides a beautifully delicate accompaniment to the aggressive elements of the music. I will be checking out more from these guys.
Vocals. Vocals, vocals, vocals. They’re quite reminiscent of Napalm Death, giving the music a bit of an old school vibe. They also happen to be the most prominent element in the mix by quite a long shot, mostly thanks to copious amounts of reverb. While they’re occasionally toned down to a snarl (“Seed Shooter”) or an ominous chanting (“An Obsession Supreme”), most of the time, they’re this loud-ass bark that kinda overpowers the rest of the band. This is sad, seeing as they have some pretty awesome riffs on offer and can surprise you from time to time, such as with the groove on “Sliced Self/Multiple Lives.” Given that the band features seasoned veterans of bands like The Black Dahlia Murder and The Dillinger Escape Plan, amongst others, it’s perhaps unsurprising that they know their shit and play it well; they really shine in the purely instrumental sections. The rest of the time, however, it’s a bit of a struggle to make out what’s going on.
Having liked what I heard on the podcast and having made good experiences with mathcore lately, I guess I thought I’d wade in a bit further. Now I think I’ve had enough of the genre for the foreseeable future. Fawn Limbs don’t play around; this is much more serious business with none of the light-heartedness of Freighter. Right from the start, subtle noise elements peak through frequently, adding to the unsettling nature of the music. Songs seem to flicker and jitter, sometimes completely falling apart into free-form jazz parts before reassembling and resuming their deadly, machine-like rhythms. They remind me of machines from the Dark Tower series – their original purpose long forgotten, at least by the puzzled onlooker, but still working with murderous precision, not so much controlled as inhabited by an AI that has gone insane.
Another one from the podcast in case some dinguses (dingi?) aren’t paying attention to that. What we’ve got here is an absolutely splendid mix of pretty much everything that makes this genre so great, making this perhaps the most satisfying release featured today. There’s a dense core of grind and crust, the ferociousness of which occasionally reminds me of the one and only Insect Warfare, but instead of guttural vocals, the singer does more of a hardcore-ish bark. The music follows suit now and then, for example by diving into breakdown parts, but never really gives any of the three genre influences too much of a priority. The result is that there’s not a single boring minute to be found on here as you’re thrust from song to song with whiplash-inducing, sack-whipping force. These guys really know what they’re doing.
Krupskaya – Remnants of a Species Now Forgotten
Is this it? Is this the album to end all grindcore? Our dearly departed W covered these guys a while back, and I remarked that I was “weirded out” by them. After listening to this album, that doesn’t cover it anymore. I am bewildered. Bamboozled. Flummoxed. Flabbergasted. Krupskaya do it all, all of the time. From somewhat blackened grindcore laden with gravity blasts to deep-hitting, toxic sludge to insane tech death to… frankly, I’m not sure what to call those parts with the unsettlingly warbling clean vocals. Everything adds up to the biggest mindfuck I’ve heard all year. Changes from one element to the next can come out of the blue at any time, and I never once got the feeling that I knew what was around the corner. Adding to the challenging nature of the album is its duration—coming in at about 50 minutes, this sure isn’t your typical grind record. It’s music for the endtimes. Whether it’s the end of humanity, the genre, or just your brain is up to you to find out—if you can get your hands on a copy. Since there’s no digital version, I only have a teaser to show you here. Your best bet is to contact the band directly on their Facebook page linked above.
Header image via Deadspin