Bump’n’Grind – Manna from the Grind Gods
Five quick hits of quality.
While the last Bump ‘n’ Grind was a little late (it was originally meant to be Christmas-themed), 2020 excused my tardiness and went slow with the grind releases. But just when I thought it was too slow, my inbox started to flood. I deduce that I must be in the grind gods’ good graces, and to keep it that way, let’s praise what they bestowed on us.
Skam – Sounds of a Disease
Redefining Darkness | April 3, 2020
Swedish grindcore was my first love—Nasum and Gadget were the bands that first got me into the genre, and Skam delivers a similarly dense, endlessly intense sonic package. The modern sound is crisp and fresh and immediately pulls you in, shifting fluently between grind, death, and crust. While the occasional spot of quiet can be found amidst the bludgeoning, the heavy parts are insane enough that even fans of earlier Anaal Nathrakh might get a kick out of them. All of this is in service of the band’s stated goal: to provide catharsis for the listener, to relieve their stress and help them vent. While I’m sure these are the ends that a lot of grind is used to, Skam make it their express premise and double down on it by offering the album for free (once it’s out—Bandcamp requires pre-orders to have a price) in the hopes of doing their part to combat mental illness.
Ruinas – Ikonoklasta
Spikerot Records | March 20, 2020
Ikonoklasta at first struck me like pretty much any other roughshod grind/crust hybrid, and while those genres are its mainstay, they’re executed with more finesse than expected. The preview track, for example, is not afraid to delve into the melodic school of modern crust instead of merely utilizing the d-beat as bands in this field usually do. It also offers the first tempo change of the record, which is promptly followed by “Supercélula,” a short burst of grind to remind us what it’s all about. This, in turn, is followed by a straight punk jam. Featuring a member from deathgrind stalwarts Machetazo, it’s not surprising that Ruinas know what they’re doing, and it’s fun to hear them utilize the full bandwidth that their niche has to offer plus a little on top, like some synths and the occasional dip into doom.
Escuela Grind – Indoctrination
Armageddon Label/To Live A Lie/RSR | March 20, 2020
Escuela Grind came to my attention by way of fellow Toileteer achilleas, who stanned their excellently titled EP PPOOWWEERRVVIIOOLLEENNCCEE. Intended as an homage to the early days of that genre, it thoroughly went over my head, so I was kinda glad when I learned it was a stylistic outlier. Things are firmly back in grind territory on this new release, and things get pretty unhinged as the band pinballs from grind to hardcore and incorporates noise elements (culminating in the 10-minute outro track). The mix seems to literally dial everything to 11, so similar to early Wormrot, there’s some clipping going on, which took me some getting used to before I was able to appreciate the chaos. The wonderfully shlocky infomercial-style video they made recently will help to indoctrinate you to their sound, especially since they opted to have it span the first three tracks of the album. Enjoy!
Lifetaker – Night Intruder
Independent | February 14, 2020
When I talked about Lifetaker the last time, I could easily discern and separate a grindcore side and a hardcore side to their sound. It’s all gotten a tad more complicated here. The two pillars are still present, but rather than bouncing from one to the other, Lifetaker now explore the space between and around them much more thoroughly. The result is a varied record that operates within the sonic framework of grindcore all the way, but doesn’t feel the need to rely solely on grindcore staples. I suppose you could just call it deathgrind and be done with it, but it doesn’t feel like that’s doing it justice. It’s not “out there” enough to feel wholly alien, but it breaks from familiarity just enough to challenge notions about the genre.
Internal Rot – Grieving Birth
Blastasfuk/Iron Lung | February 28, 2020
These guys again? Yes. Absolutely these guys again. Always and forever these guys. This is archetypal grindcore, creating non-stop ferocity with blasts, d-beats, simple, shredding punk riffs, and guttural vocals. There’s a good reason that their first album Mental Hygiene received almost as many plays as World Extermination, and I can only see this one catching up throughout the year. From the overall album length to the tried-and-true song structures to the frequency with which memorable, hooky riffs pop up from amidst the mire, this thing just does everything right. And in true grindcore fashion, the release is scattered over various labels, with the CD version being handled by Blastasfuk and the vinyl by Iron Lung and 625 Records. Do yourself a favour and get at least one.