Quarterly Roundup (Q3 2018): Blasts from the Recent Past
We’re surfing Bandcamp because you’re lazy.
We’re now over a month late getting this out and it’s my fault, but tough shit. Thanks to a collaboration with the ever-prolific Hans, we’ve curated some of the better specimens of the grindy and ‘core-y realm that were projectile-ovulated into this vale of tears from July through September. Listen up and go kill some brain cells. Enjoy.
Meth Leppard / Minimum Wage Assassins – Split 7”
The cover art is a very accurate depiction of how this will make you feel. Now, even if a name like Meth Leppard doesn’t make you want to check this out, the fact that they’re from Australia (Internal Rot, Coffin Birth,Super Fun Happy Slide) should let you know this is dope. Good ol’ grunt/shriek dual vocals, a fuckton of blast beats, and here and there, a death-y riff that’s actually catchy. Illinois’ Minimum Wage Assassins follow this up with more of a goregrind approach. With pitch-shifted vocals and meaty guitar sound, they alternately blast and groove their way through somewhat longer tracks. Together, both bands represent a good chunk of the grind spectrum, so this is great for converting non-believers.
This little guy dropped July 13 on WOOAAARGH. Stream and order here.
Heinous – The Basement
Heinous join their fellow Phoenicians Woundvacin demonstrating their home city’s affinity for the fast and abrasive, here offering goregrind in the spirit of Symphonies of Sickness, if Bill Steer and Jeff Walker replaced their respective voiceboxes with a partially clogged U-bend. Seriously, these vocals are fucking disgusting, and delightfully so. The production is a couple steps above raw, the de rigeur horror flick samples are plentiful, and the guitar tone and riffs give an appropriate nod to Left Hand Path’s legacy. While its running time only hits the 18-minute mark, nevertheless it crams in enough content to feel fleshed-out and not at all rushed. Nailing the old-schooler’s goal of channeling the late 80’s and early 90’s without sounding derivative, this pairs especially well with the Meth Leppard / Minimum Wage assassins split referenced above. And it’s name your price, so you have no excuse.
The Basementwas released independently on July 17. Stream and throw them a few bucks here.
Maggot Bath / Slund – Split
One must imagine Sysiphos happy as he tries to keep up with the output of grind bands; since Vlad put together this list, both bands already released at least one new split, so let’s get to it quick. Maggot Bath (also Australian) dial up the “core” in grindcore, delivering big ol’ ignant hardcore breakdowns together with big ol’ ignant barking vocals. However, they refrain from the genre’s blood-and-sweat rhetoric of struggles and strength, keeping it light and fun, as evidenced by the song titles and the samples. Slund from Slovenia prove more diverse in terms of tempo, and their powerviolence comes off a tad more serious. A wonderfully rumbling bass guitar provides some welcome low end, nicely rounding out the sound, and the vocalist’s approach is satisfyingly vitriolic.
The split was released on August 18 and can be found in full here.
Noise Nest – Discrepancy
Noise there certainly is, namely feedback noise, which ends and begins every song here. The overall sound reminds me of the excellent Horsebastard, but the distorted, black-ish vocals – the most appealing aspect to me – are more akin to blackened crust, and the drums sound a bit more programmed, though I can’t back that up, and it doesn’t detract from the music, anyway. The whole thing is over almost as soon as you press play, as these folks from Turkey don’t slow down much for anything or anyone, delivering an incredibly tight package of modern grind and powerviolence with a pretty polished sound and all dials set to obliterate.
Discrepancycame out on August 8 and awaits you here.
Jesus Piece – Only Self
I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before, but I’ll gladly say it again: I don’t like hardcore. Don’t like the tough guy attitude, certainly don’t like the dancing. This pretty much has the attitude, and since a faster song like “Neuroprison” is an outlier amongst slower, stomping grooves, it’s also sure to cause mayhem in the pit. However, Jesus Piece pack an incredibly captivating sound with their thick, chunky guitars and a singer that doesn’t bellow but rather scream out his anger in a decidedly grindcore manner. Add to that slight elements of noise, some quieter passages like on “In The Silence”, and numerous dips into doomy, sludgy waters to add versatility, and lo, I find myself actually enjoying a hardcore record, clenching my teeth and fists in an effort not to wreck shit in my immediate vicinity.
Only Self was released August 24. Get it here.
Descent – Towers of Grandiosity
If classic Swedeath needed more speed, more blasts, an extra layer of rasp to the vocals, and more frequent swerves into outright hardcore territory, Descent would be the remedy. As it stands, the classics need nothing, and thus Descent stand firmly on their own merits- nothing derivative about it. Drums and vocals are mixed high to match the HM-2’s overbearing nature, though the meaty chordal work of the latter yields enough space to tremolo-picked leads to avoid monotony. Similarly, the mid-high pitch of the vocals, not to mention their strident delivery, assists in keeping them front and center, whereas growls may have backed themselves into more of a supportive role. Pinch harmonics abound; sweeps are nonexistent. Leads are flashy (see the harmonized bits in Sic Inferius, particularly) absent shred or wank. All this is to say that Towers of Grandiosity is an example of where loud production works, where dynamism is expressed rather than blindly pursued, and where going hard seems effortless rather than contrived. It’s quick, catchy, nasty, secure in rather than beholden to its influences, and easily one of the death metal highlights of the year. Get it.
Towers of Grandiosity was released August 31 on Redefining Darkness Records. Stream and order here.
Strick – Selektion
There’s no single approach to blackened hardcore that stands above all others, but Selektion, the second EP from Munich miscreants Strick, certainly makes a bid for the upper tiers here. Blackened elements find their voices through diminished melodies weaving in and out of the guitar work, when it’s not eviscerating you with d-beat punctuated by off-time rhythmic breaks. The vocals are pure second-wave shrieks, but in spite of all this the compositions prioritize hardcore’s concision over black metal’s expansiveness. It’s over as soon as it’s begun, and all the better for it- focused, deliberate, and sincere in its malevolence. This shit kills fascists; Woody Guthrie just might have approved. Maybe.
Selektion was released independently on September 12. Stream and order here.
Closet Witch – s/t
A brief fade-in and we’re off into the chaos. I was immediately struck by the non-stop intensity of the vocals, providing the music with a sense of desperate aggression. Said desperation is backed by surprising emotional versatility of the music; towards the end of opener “Blood Orange”, we already hear some melodic post-hardcore chords that will make frequent appearances throughout. Equally frequent are forays into sludgy stomping passages and feedback-drenched noise rock flurries, the latter best exemplified by “Brother”. Despair once again rules supreme when all elements come together in “Rule By Bacon”. Thus, aggression is always mixed with a certain sadness and despondency, a combo that feels like an adequate response to the world.
The album came out in June; download and info on physical versions here.
That’s all for last quarter. More after the New Year; cheers!