Bump’n’Grind – Washed Up Exploding Embryo

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Roping in the stragglers.

In terms of release date, some of these could have been included in the last installment, but my negligence shall be made up for. In terms of sound, some of these fought to not be featured here at all, but their resistance shall prove futile.


Smallpox Aroma | Festering Embryos of Logical Corruption | March 31

Without seeing the cover art or the song titles, you’d never suspect that Smallpox Aroma are all about morbid medical matters. There’s no annoying samples to give it away, nor do they take many cues from death metal, sonically or compositionally. A bright, hardcore and crust-influenced sound sticks to grind’s core tenet of playing punk riffs as fast as humanly possible. Together with dual vocals, a snare that cracks like a whip, and a bass guitar clattering along admirably, this medical lecture might turn into a kegger at any moment. Not much to be said, much fun to be had.


Exploding Corpse Action | Inter-Dimensional Annihilation: Complete Transmissions 1995-1997 | April 22

Apparently ECA from Albany did not officially play grindcore, but their “supersonic sci-fi inspired death metal” feels close enough to include here. With 3 EPs and 3 live tracks including some previously unreleased material, this compendium offers an interesting, if not exactly essential slice of history. A bass-heavy, chaotic sound with gurgled vocals largely recalls early Carcass with some synths and samples strewn in for that space flavor. The quality is decent throughout, and I’m always happy to hear something on thematic ground less well-tread by grind, but I wouldn’t have minded something a bit more out there.


Man Must Die | The Pain Behind It All | February 17

Grindcore is only one of several tags here, but while it’s clear that these guys are going for something more, the influence of latter-day Napalm Death and similarly modern grind is felt throughout, particularly on tracks like “Patterns in the Chaos,” “Clickhate,” and the closer. The first of these hits especially hard, so I was a bit puzzled to hear this followed up by a slightly industrialized mid-tempo number with subtle melodic aspirations. These aspects rear their heads more consistently as the record goes on, most notably on “Enabler,” and with the painful teenage sincerity of the lyrics recalling nu metal, the result is a combination of styles and moods of which I’m not exactly sure who it’s for.


Regress | All Washed Up | May 5

One for my rubbery friends from the Powerviolence Crowd (PVC). Regress are a duo from LA that debuted only last year and sports a barebones sound where the bass guitar often takes up just as much space in the mix as the guitar. Vocals sound like they’re being screamed into the mic from six feet away, making it feel like their source is being forcibly restrained at the back of the room, which lends an extra sense of ongoing torture to the many excruciatingly slow parts. A record about as pleasant as pulling teeth.


Pupil Slicer | Blossom | June 2

Much to my delight, the mathcore side of Pupil Slicer’s sound, already restrained enough on debut Mirrors that even I could get into it, has been dialed back further in favor of impactful hardcore breakdowns, more clean vocals, and a more obvious vulnerability in the form of almost shoegaze-y elements (“The Song at Creation’s End,” “Dim Morning Light”). I could see people leveling the same criticism at it that I threw at Man Must Die, as the juxtaposition of styles can feel odd at first and might strike them as too overtly angsty. However, I’d argue that Blossom successfully eschews clichés and blueprints and gains a lot of integrity by going all-in on a distinct and personal expression of inner tumult. Pupil Slicer already sound singular enough that including them here doesn’t really do them justice, and I’m eager to see how this trajectory continues.


Bred for Slaughter | Here You’re Born… Here You Die | March 17

Much like Sonic Poison from last time, this one hearkens back to the early days, albeit drawing more from death metal in terms of vocals and song lengths. Frequently surpassing the four-minute mark, you won’t be surprised to find that there is frequent respite with slightly slower sections, although it never really gets down to the “classic groovy mid-tempo death metal” that the PR text mentions (speaking of which, that “for fans of” list is the wildest shit I’ve seen in some time). No, the shredding guitars, the inconsistent rehearsal room sound quality, the takka-takka-takka drums, and the utterly chaotic guitar solos work hard to keep everything in the spirit of true grind.


Serotonin Zero | Broken Worlds | March 31

These guys were trying hard to fly under my radar by refusing the grindcore tag, so I’m happy that the ever-vigilant Spear brought them to my attention. Next to maybe Vision Deprived, this is not only some of the most well-crafted, but probably some of the most accessible grind(-adjacent material) so far this year. Blast- and d-beats abound, and the sound is sufficiently blown out to give it a gritty feel, yet Serotonin Zero never neglect bringing melody into the fold, so that the end result rides a fine line between all-out aggression and the slightly more sensitive approach of blackened hardcore. If you know any weakeners not yet subscribed to the gospel of grind, bump this for them as a starting point before insidiously introducing increasingly rough stuff.


 

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