Bump’n’Grind – Less Rock, More Talk
Fewer albums! More words! Paragraphs!
It’s been a hot minute since I got around to one of these, but as proven by Carcassbomb’s review of Knoll and my own mini review of the excellent Eastwood, the grind must out, and it will find a way. At the same time, the grind has been a bit shy lately, largely staying away from my inbox. So for this one, I widened the scope a bit and included some stuff that is kind of grind-adjacent and less readily definable. And since that makes things more interesting and complicated, I talk about each record a bit more than usual. Let’s go.
Kanahn | Fall Prey | September 24, 2021
The Tuesday list where I found this marked it, not incorrectly, as “black/death metal.” There are a number of elements of that genre hybrid here, most notably the kind of riffs that I always end up describing as churning. Tracks like “Blowtorch Excavator Truthsayer” (what), “A Fading Guiding Light,” and several others should offer enough to satisfy any fan of latter-day darkened death.
However, the opener quickly makes it clear that grindcore is at least as much of a cornerstone as black and death metal are, as it wastes little time in getting to some merciless blasting and shredding. Later songs like “Wolves Await,” “Kaal Tyrant,” and “As The Rope Slips” rely heavily, if not wholly, on similar grind staples, always preferring to go straight for the jugular instead of laboriously stalking their prey.
While the music moves effortlessly between several extreme genres, grind also gets to have a significant say in the overall sonic design of the record; clear enunciation is favoured over the murky, cavernous sound I’ve come to expect from black/death acts, which serves to further muddle the genre distinction and give it more of its own identity. Simply calling it deathgrind seems tempting, but it ends up somewhere where that doesn’t really do it justice anymore.
I have a steadfast rule about not buying albums after I’ve only heard them once, but I was hard put not to slam this in the shopping cart before even finishing my first spin. It’s fast, it’s brutal, and it was made by one guy who’s only other credit on Metal Archives is as the lyricist for a stoner rock band. It’s wild what this fucking pandemic has brought out in some musicians.
Bled to Submission | Bury Them in the Graves They Dug for You | May 7, 2021
What a title! And that’s only the first thing that’s great about this. Bled to Submission offers up a highly potent mix of sludge, grind, and noise that reminds me of nothing less than the phenomenal collaboration albums from The Body and Full of Hell. In spirit more than in execution, mind you, as they don’t shoot for the fringes quite as hard, but it’s enough to have me excited for their future trajectory.
The EP kicks things off with an almost purebred sludge track, and while I’m usually not a fan of slow tempos on my grind records, the sheer heaviness along with the vicious vocals ranging from nasty shrieks to gut-wrenching growls quickly had me convinced. In addition to that, I’m a sucker for the kind of grime that is baked into their sound in the form of a near-constant layer of atmospheric noise, which gives it a bristling, acidic quality.
Accordingly, it’s the moments where that element bubbles to the surface more prominently that have me the most excited. The way the opener dissolves into the droning noise of interlude track “Venerated” or the distorted, screeching sounds accompanying the vocal sample in “Obscured by the Sun (pt. I)” is wonderful, and I would love to see something like the throbbing sound collage of “Found, Alone” to be integrated into the rest of the music more.
But even if you consider those parts weaknesses rather than strengths, the competent and abysmally heavy manner in which the band fluctuates between grind and sludge, mixing aggression and crushing despair, should offer plenty for you to chew on.
Kill the Con Man | Operation Just Cause | March 26, 2021
12 songs in 12.5 minutes? Sure sounds like we’re in more conventional grind territory again. And sure enough, when these guys go hard, they go really hard. However, pressure-washing the inside of your cranium is not all that they accomplish in the brief run time.
First of all, in their lyrics, which are often quite intelligible, they aren’t content to simply reiterate time and again how much everything sucks, humans are shit, and how we’d be better off dead. I mean, there’s some of that, but frequently, they take a stance that reminds me of more of Liberteer, daring to dream of revolution: “There’s nothing they can do to stop a collapse that’s already begun / It starts in the streets.” That’s quite refreshing, all the more so because they manage to deliver these lines with hooks that actually get stuck in your head.
Further contributing to the hookyness (it’s a word, shut up) are the little melodic parts that frequently step to the forefront. Rather than constantly hiding behind fast shredding, the guitarwork can be surprisingly more intricate than you might expect from this kind of record.
All these qualities are probably best exemplified by the one-two combo of “Death Cult” and “More Noise,” but everybody should find the time to listen to the whole thing, multiple times, and not let its runtime drive down the price when you eventually buy it.
Death Goals | The Horrible and The Miserable | June 4, 2021
Given today’s topic, I suppose it had to come to this—emotions are making their way into this column. Yikes! But we shan’t concern ourselves with whether this is grind enough (the tags do include “mathgrind,” and they did a split with Pupil Slicer a while back, so we’re good on that front anyway), but with whether it bangs.
Short answer: it does, but it “hits different,” as they say. It’s absolutely capable of exploding in your face with a kind of brutality that is indeed math-y and chaotic. It can also appeal to your basest instincts with parts like the stupidly heavy breakdowns in “Shrike” and the title track. But it doesn’t ever feel like it’s solely reliant on heaviness to create its impact, as it frequently veers off into noise rock, emo punk, or other genres that don’t put aggression front and center.
A good deal of its heft, then, comes from tension; tension between these different genres, tension created by the often glaringly bright sound of the guitar, tension in the main singer’s voice, who constantly sounds like he’s straining himself to his breaking point. And that’s also the overall impression that the album creates: reaching a limit, worn out, rubbed raw, about to tear apart. Sadly, that makes it feel like an incredibly fitting soundtrack to a lot of lives right now.
Wasted Death | Ugly as Hell II: Uglier Than Hell | August 13, 2021
What strenuous connection can I make up to justify this EP’s inclusion here? Who cares. It’s punk as fuck, it’s grimey as shit, it’s ugly as hell. Nay, uglier even! That’s good enough.
What you get is 5 tracks of pounding, hyper-charged old school hardcore punk. Or maybe 5 tracks of crust-infused turbo sludge. 5 tracks that are so amped up that everything seems to be clipping for almost the entire time, but that somehow works in their favour, as the resulting intensity is irresistible.
The band features Wayne Adams, who is also in Petbrick and was therefore part of last year’s Deafbrick project, and while the music here is way less experimental, there is nonetheless some stylistic overlap. This is most notable in the drumming style, which creates a steady pulsing backbone without adding too many flourishes; anything more would be too much amidst the chaos. Further similarities are the shrieking vocals nestled nicely in the middle of the mix and a mild affinity for noise elements.
The resulting concoction packs an astounding amount of contempt for everything and everyone. It’s like an out-of-control drunk guy laying waste to everything in his path and still giving off massively menacing vibes even when he calms down for a moment. But frightening as he is, you’ll go party with him again, because a part of you lives vicariously through his rage.
That’s it for this round, but while we’re more or less on the subject of outside-the-box approaches to grind, I’d be remiss not to at least give a shout out to Sugar Wounds, since I don’t think anyone’s doing what they’re doing. Personally, the idea of “grindgaze” sounded great to me, but I wasn’t super thrilled with the execution. Give it a try though, and if you’re into it, spread the word!