Bump’N’Grind – June 2019
Heh, that makes it sound like I had the discipline to do this monthly.
Hey, it’s another round of mini reviews of everyone’s favourite almost-music. This time featuring some impressive techy grind, some less impressive crust, and a superfluous take on Full of Hell (y’all already know it rules).
Deathgrind! Think about it. What else do you need in life? Theories have been about for a bit, but this is my first contact. The production makes it seem like everything here is covered in a layer of grime, yet doesn’t sound muddy, which I like a lot. Trashcan snare rounds out the picture. The band plough through furious bouts as well as stomping parts with the verve of a younger, wilder Misery Index. Everything is dialed to eleven pretty much constantly, but the songs twist and wind enough for things to still make an impact rather than just rushing though like a freight train.
Leaning much more towards the punk side of the spectrum, Makkmat bring a delightful anarcho spirit to the proceedings, helped along by plenty of d-beats. Add to that the dual vocal approach and fast as fuck guitars shredding their way through punk riffs, and you’ve almost got my complete checklist for the sort of grind I initially fell in love with. It doesn’t hurt that Makkmat just might take home the trophy for the sickest vocals featured here today. I could imagine black metal singers wishing they could deliver a shriek this piercing and pissed off. Dig in if you’ve always wanted to hear what Gollum would sound like if you threw him in a meatgrinder.
You’ve probably seen the hype for this album. Believe it! Up until now, I didn’t quite get why this band was lauded so much. Maybe the importance of the noise element in their sound was overstated somewhere and I just expected something more adventurous when I first listened to them. I eventually got my fill of that from their colaborations with The Body, and would like to think some of the experimentation has rubbed off on the band. While the noise is not as constant a companion as it is with e.g. American, it’s integrated a lot better than I remember from anything I’ve heard before, and the grind side of the formula has only gotten better, too. The shorter tracks have ridiculous killing power, and the huge citadel in the middle that houses the titular choir is frightening to behold.
I think I might use words like “frantic” and “frenetic” too much when talking about grind. Good thing that neither of those will cut it in this case. Is “nervous” a good quality to have? These guys definitely seem nervous about something. The music flits and jitters like timelapse footage of a coke binge. Angular, technical compositions zig-zag like bottled lightning, occasionally escaping into wide-open, often slightly melodic passages. Speaking of strange twists, the gruff vocals could be lifted straight from an OSDM record. Manifold are the influences, impressive is the outcome. Highlights so far include “Cold Calculation” and “Non Compos Mentis.”
One of the more well-known bands from the Scandinavian scene, Martyrdød is bound to cross your path as soon as you dip your toe into crust territory. I’ve never quite warmed up to them; they neither grab me by the throat like their countrymen Skitsystem, nor do they evoke the antisocial debauchery of crusty thrashers like Speedwolf. There’s a solid foundation here, but the melodic guitars ruin it for me. Nothing against melody, but the brief leads that pop up randomly are annoyingly samey, and overlong songs can wring the last joy from once servicable riffs. “Nästa Syrien” is a good example of an interesting song slowly commiting suicide by repetition.
My favourite Aussie grinders make a triumphant return with an album’s worth of material (i.e. 20 minutes or so) recorded live in a studio. What studio? Why, non other than Colin Marston‘s Menegroth Studio. Not that it shows much, other than maybe in the fact that this doesn’t sound nearly as crappy as you might imagine when you think of grind played live. Mr. Marston is too good at his job to just give every band a generic sound, so Internal Rot still sound every bit as abrasive as they did back on Mental Hygiene. Raw, grinding fury topped off with a mostly guttural vocal approach that almost reaches Ethan McCarthy levels of nastiness. Insert stereotypical Australian phrase for approval.
This debut EP captivated me mostly with its songwriting. While not so odd as to totally distract from the sheer force of the music, the deranged turns that the songs keep taking makes it feel like the band is snapping one of your bones with each one of them, eventually leaving you in a crumpled pile with appendages jutting off at disconcerting angles. If comparisons to tech death weren’t wildly out of my territory (and if we hadn’t already had tech grind today), I’d say it approaches a similar level of calculated insanity. They could afford to tighten some screws in the instrumental department – sometimes it sounds as if they’re struggling to keep up with each other, and the style they go for can only benefit from precision, but this is certainly a highly promising first effort.
Friendship – Undercurrent
Friendship’s 2017 effort, Hatred, was a bit of a surprise hit, delivering top-notch grind with pummeling hardcore elements. The formula is still recognizable on Undercurrent, but boasts a pleasantly even-keeled production this time that fixes the formerly weirdly punchy drum sound. Breakdowns occur with about the same frequency as they did before, but there’s more technicality to the playing than I remember. The drummer is an absolute beast that can easily follow the guitars even at their most frenzied, and speaking of guitars, this album has something we don’t see a whole lot of in this category: riffs! Time and again, I’m surprised to hear super catchy guitar work that makes me either want to bob my head or flail my arms wildly. This highly enjoyable musicianship makes up for the somewhat mediocre vocal performance.