The Slow March to Annihilation
Anger is a lot like alcohol. If you quickly slam a shot of it, you’re going to feel a rush. Your fingers are going to tingle. Your pulse is going to accelerate. Blinding, undiluted rage saturates your veins, stirring you into a state of hyper-aggressive action. Pity the fools who stand in the way of your fury. Grindcore, the various off-shoots of death metal, and crust punk afford listeners a similar experience. Adrenaline and unfocused fury are the name of the game. For a brief, gratuitous strike of wrath, these genres should be your drink of choice.
But sometimes you desire to nurse your rage while you lick your wounds in the dark. White-hot fury is supplanted by bitterness as your anger creeps and crawls its way from burning the back of your neck to slowly sinking its fangs into heart. Feeling and desire give way to unrepentant hatred and unmitigated lust for vengeance. Your patience lengthens as you plot and fester and slowly transform into the object of your fury. Doom is the embodiment of such sustained negativity. Like a fine bourbon or an aged scotch, it should be imbibed slowly, carefully, calculatingly. This is not a draught you drain in one gulp but rather one to which you dedicate yourself, building a tolerance for hate and a lust for prolonged agony.
Interestingly, the loathing can become even more potent when a punk-influenced band decides to seal its indignation away into a cask, where it will age and grow and reform into an even more stout and vitriolic strain. When a band that typically plays fast embraces the gnawing anger within and succumbs to the wroth primal urges, something awful and ugly can happen. This is an examination of the ruination and detritus left in the wake when stampeding bands slow down the pace and take the time to burn and pillage the remains of their rampages.
I’ve mentioned before that Pig Destroyer are a good grind band, but I think something very special occurs when the band decides to slow things down. The recent “Mass and Volume” release shows the band’s ability to stop stampeding and start plodding, crushing everything in its path with its hulking bulk. Perhaps even more interesting, however, is the unsettling and brooding horror of “Natasha,” a harrowing bonus track from the Terrifyer DVD that tells the tragic tale of murder and unending hatred that lingers after death. It presents a tense experiment in tension and atmosphere used to convey terror, but more importantly, it features one of the most evil riffs ever recorded. Submit to Hayes’ madness as your hands move slowly to destroy what you love.
Brutal Truth said goodbye to the grindcore scene with the monolithic farewell of End Time. Stuffed to the gills with violent and visceral grind, the band interestingly decided to bookend their career with a jarring display of sustained rage in the 15-minute “Control Room.” It’s hard to find a discernible beat or riff to which you can anchor yourself, rendering your senses vulnerable to the slow and brutal torture of squealing noise and unrepentant chaos. This isn’t grind, but rather discord personified. “Control Room” is Brutal Truth’s Room 101, and the band has ensured that you will meet your end within.
Weekend Nachos have always brought a dissonant ire to the powerviolence game, bludgeoning you with unrelenting assault after assault. However, the heft of this band’s anger becomes even more palpable when they slow things down to slowly plow over you. “Future” is the audible equivalent of that guy getting bulldozed in the First Austin Powers movie; the whole thing might be comical if it wasn’t so dark and out of place. “Future” ends Worthless on a definitively more macabre note than expected.
As mentioned in our interview with Bastard Feast, Osculum Infame is the shameful kiss of hellish vengeance unleashed this year by Bastard Feast. Applying a scorched earth policy to crust punk, the band is like a serial arsonist setting the metal landscape ablaze. However, at the end of Osculum Infame, the band takes a surprising turn, and, rather than dropping a napalm bomb on your ravaged body and pissing on your desiccated corpse, they instead pour gasoline all over your pets and set them ablaze, letting the frightened animals run around your apartment and set things on fire. Strange? Yes, but equally malicious. Bastard Feast are just as spiteful whether they are blasting at full-speeding or tearing your life apart with a claw hammer.
Last year, Blockheads unleashed a primal concrete slab of unadulterated hatred in the form of This World Is Dead. “Trail of the Dead” continues the trend here of grind bands ending their albums on a slow note, and the technique is put to absolute effectiveness on this album. This track is the prolonged, agonizing end of a snuff film. You’ve seen the hapless victim get slashed and sliced, but the final blow, delivered with cruel, painstaking deliberation, is all the more visceral due to the suffering that has preceded it. The plodding drums and reverb-drenched notes of “Trail of the Dead” are the noose that will enable you to finally exit, stage left.
Unfortunately, Gaza are no longer a band. However, the band was kind enough to leave us with “Routine and then Death,” a long-form expression of the ugliness they saw in the world around them. The juddering drums and off-kilter, carefully-planned notes are the ultimate expression of the misery this band dedicated their career to reflecting. What a fitting end.
“Lujura,” the penultimate track from Xibalba’s Hasta La Muerte, is a funereal march into the terrifying depths of the Mayan underworld. The battering drums that provide a counter-point to the down-tuned, lugubrious riffs fill your frame with dread as you complete your katabasis. Even the dire pleas to “bring the rain” cannot wash away your sins. Eternal punishment and torment await you for your multitude of transgressions. There is no freedom from your fate. There is no void to provide deliverance. Embrace the cruel end.
The Acacia Strain
The Acacia Strain may seem like an odd finale to this infernal voyage, but the 27-minute “Observer” is a grueling, exhausting last rite. The enigmatic narrative is revealed through “True Detective” samples and poignant cries of pain and fear. Time will not heal the wounds inflicted by bitterness. There is no forgiveness here, only the smoldering, agonizingly slow death of poison spreading through your veins. All has been lost; love, fame, wealth, joy, status. All is corruptible and doomed for destruction in the engines of hatred. The observer, fueled by the sustained blight of bitter malice, will destroy all that you love, even your precious dreams and memories. When all that you hold dear has been consumed by flames, the observer will cast your nameless body into an unmarked grave. Hate for hate. This is the slow march to annihilation.