Next to word-of-mouth and blind luck, compilations are the best way to discover new bands. And since I live in a city devoted to Indy Rock and being Politically Correct, word-of-mouth is not going to get me very deep into the grindcore industry. So comps it is. They are also rather frustrating, since most of these bands have a woeful lack of material, that being primarily on 7" splits. Therein lies the other issue: many people do not own a record player, which makes it tough for the band to get an international following. It's a double edged sword. On one side, if the records don't sell, the band does not get heard. On the other, assholes like me ripping the vinyl for your listening pleasure get the band much-needed exposure, but the release does not sell. Thankfully, this comp is on CD and is supported by good distribution. Maybe we can all do our part...
Illegal Grinding starts off with a cover band. I use "cover" in a tongue-in-cheek way, but also as a term of endearment, as I like the band. They are Bloody Act Of Terror, a band who, even if you have never heard them, will sound very familiar. In the titular song they play a poor man's version of the mosh bit from Napalm Death's "Mentally Murdered." Then comes "Lets Talk About Nothing," which is actually "Burning Inside" by Nasum. Same drums, same riffs, same vocals patterns. It appears only the title changed. The rest of their tracks ring with the same familiar sounds, but I will leave you the task of spotting which bands get emulated - and really, this is fine, seeing the whole imitation/flattery thing. I am only disappointed that their page on the inlay card does not devote a few lines to giving credit where credit is due.
Next up comes my first encounter with the west coast two-piece act Goner. They sport two mics, one guitar, a drum kit, and a DIY recording budget. It's a recipe for grinding madness. The set list felt incredible short, but it was enough to capture my interest. I liked their guitar tone, the pure grind riffing and definitely the consistent use of varied drum patterns (as opposed to Blast And Thrash I have come to expect from most young/new bands.) It doesn't hurt that the band is supported by To Lie A Lie and Bullshit Progaganda, two labels I have tremendous respect for. The labels have obviously heard the band more than I have, so just by liking this I think it's safe to assume that more goodness is just over the horizon. Aside from the shortness, my only issue is that they broke my unwritten rule of having a song with the sample longer than the music. Thankfully it was the final tune, so in a sense it is easy to overlook. Speaking of easy, Goner is a band I could easily see being brutal live. I'd like to hear them do a split with Gate or Shitstorm. Those records would sell.
The third band on the list plays grind influenced thrash, and they do it right. Starting out with "Contamination," a classic Sepultura meets Abscess type of tune, Haemophagus introduce themselves as a band worthy of a full length. True to Thrash 101 requirments they sound like accomplished musicians having a right good time. I will be the first to admit that some of this sentiment might be from the juxtaposition of coming after Goner and before Sakatat, two heavy, no compromise grinders. Either way their songs were fun to listen to (great General Surgery cover) and made me want to look further into the band. Isn't that the point of comps? When I track down their new CD, it's mine. Simple as that.
After the thrash interlude comes Sakatat, a band more people should be familiar with. They play a brand of grind double-steeped in punk, an approach somewhat but entirely unlike powerviolence. Their songs are short, raw and in many ways rather simple, but it's about as pissed as a punk with an exposed nerve on a cold, windy day. Aggression counts for a lot in these parts. I've said it before and I will paraphrase it again: I will take simple riffs played with passion over great riffs played by the numbers, any day. Sakatat is another band that probably slays live. Their songs are over before you know it, which does them little credit on the comp. But an EP from them would be a vicious assault.
This brings us to the only band without new material on the comp: D-Compose. Contrary to what their name generally implies, there are no d-beats to be had here. If anything the "D" stands for Dissonant. All the songs were taken from their album in 2004 skillfully reviewed here. D-Compose write songs like a death metal band: they stand alone, each following their own progressions. There are no forced tempo changes or any parts that are extreme for extremity's sake. Very well rounded band. Hopefully their inclusion on the comp is to build up interest as they've been rather quite since then.
And finally, just to keep anyone from feeling left out, there is the deathgrind super group Splattered Mermaids, comprised of members from Deranged, Visceral Bleeding and Havok. Deathgrind and me rarely get along. We can trace the genre back to at least Genocide, who were nice enough to disband before following up Horrified. Then their is Harmony Corruption, whose only fault is that it followed up FETO. The list goes on - it seems that each time a band does deathgrind right, they go and change everything up on their next release, if their is a next release at all. That said, it's hard coming up with a better way to end this comp. Splattered Mermaids do not have the attitude I was hoping for, but they have a style that is not represented otherwise - which is another point of comps: something for everyone.
I really enjoyed Haemophagus, Sakatat and Goner (and was stoked that they all fell in line on the playlist.) The other bands are good in their own right and I would happily go see them live. You can give the disk a listen here. I picked this up as a means to check out new bands, but also to support To Live A Lie, because I love that label. The other labels that helped fund this release are: Corrupted Harmony, Jennifergrind, Bullshit Progaganda, Teriak, Extreme Terror Productions and Goregeous Productions. Show your support by picking the comp up here.