Sunday, February 21, 2010

Come What May

So last night I saw Magrudergrind and Misery Index kick off their tour here in the states. The local openers were horrible and my friends and I suffered through walks in the cold to convenience stores just to avoid them (although one named Shotgun to the Dome was quite tempting just due to their name). All things aside, nothing was truer when Jason Netherton claimed "we should be opening for those guys [Magrudergrind]."

Misery Index formed out of the ashes of Dying Fetus, who at it's heart was a good death metal band who knew how to get people moving. While earlier works like Overthrow, Dissent, and Retaliation showed some wicked breakdowns and slams, they were more about the grind than anything else. Unfortunately, that all changed with Discordia which showcased a sterile production, longer songs, and an overall generic vibe that we come to expect from relapse death metal. Tendencies that couldn't be forgotten from the slam days of Dying Fetus became more apparent and the music watered down into super cleanly produced death metal metal which a touch of grind. A real shame, as I love Overthrow.

They played two new songs from their upcoming album, and it was much of the same. Slams in between blasting sections and a strong chorus like effort to get people moving. It works well live, as I enjoyed myself, but I can't say I'm too excited for their latest.

Maybe it's because they were picked up by Relapse, a label who's done well putting extreme metal into the market (Baroness, Pig Destroyer, Mastodon, etc) but I don't know how fair that is as Jason and the boys were always accustomed to bigger labels (Nuclear Blast, etc). Whatever the reason is, it's a real shame.

So here's to you, Misery Index, in 2001 you were a better child, and grindcore now, seems to have less of a footing here in America, we can only hope you bring it back someday.

P.S. Yes, Magrudergrind kicked ass. Even though I'm not the biggest fan of their latest but they really tore it up. The energy's still there and I'd gladly see them a hundred times over.


And for those who are interested, here's the setlist for Misery Index.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Infanticide - From Our Cold Dead Hands

Release: 2010
Type: CD
Label: Willowtip

Dear Emetic Records,

Thank you so very much for not releasing the latest album by Swedish grinders Infanticide. I know your decision must have hit the band pretty hard initially. It might have even caused them, for the Nth time, to question why they ever got together in the first place. But in doing so you also helped further prove the old adage that "Good things come to those who hate." As, instead of waiting around, seething and potentially splitting up - the band, in true DIY fashion, got pissed, took matters into their own hands and found a label willing to distribute what is indeed a must-have album.

Thanks in part to the law of unintended consequences, your decision has single handedly provided the band with the exposure they deserve. Now there is world-wide distribution, which means the album will always be available. Now there is a marketing department with the skill and budget to get the word out. Now there is the potential for a huge tour with some of the best grind acts in the world. And if that was not enough, at the same time you managed to make life for this reviewer ungodly easy. Instead of having to explain (to those not fortunate enough to know) just how Infanticide sounds and what the production is like, I can now sum it all up in one quick hitting sentence fragment: Mastered by Scott Hull and released on Willowtip Recordings.

That's right, kids: Willowtip. And I couldn't think of a better home for "From Our Cold Dead Hands." So what is it? In a nutshell, it's 26 minutes of some of the best D-Beat focused Swedish Crust Grind of the post Nasum era. And if I said the same thing about label mates Afgrund it's because Infanticide play a grittier version of the same game. The foundation is d-beat crust. What they build on this is constantly changing, both in cross genre riffing and tempo. There are 40-second attempts to break the land speed record, two minute mid-tempo excursions and every thing in between.

I am always a "whole is more than the sum of it's parts" guy when it comes to grind albums. But a few songs stand out as being representative. Two-riff wonder "Lifeless." The proto death metal intro of "A Worse Today," accurate right down to the traditional polka beats. The blistering "Shitfaced and Armed to the Teeth" comes to mind with it's one line manta, "I'm Your God Now." The track I enjoyed most the first time I spun the disk was "It Ends Here," featuring an extended thrash intro that leads into trade offs between full-speed ahead grind and classic death metal.

This album is guaranteed to put up a good fight for control of your CD player. But what really excites me is anticipation. Having Infanticide on Willowtip means I get to anticipate a US Tour with other bands releasing albums this year: Maruta and Defeatist. Seriously, send me the fliers. I will blanket Seattle for that one.

You are strongly encouraged to buy the album here (wink, wink). For more good times check out their debut, "Extinction Scheme" (nudge, nudge). And the Sonic Punishment 7" EP is mandatory for anyone who owns a record player (Say. No. More).

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Mail Order Blues

I'm singing 'em. I prefer funk though, so I called in Clyde Stubblefield to play drums.

So here we are approaching the ides of February and I have no new tunes. What gives? One mail order got lost by the US Postal Service. The other order was a screw job. I placed the order, then got an email two weeks later stating they didn't have any of the items. They convinced me to wait two weeks while they tracked everything down and then admitted failure. Sad times. But when it comes to international mail order I follow the same rule as I do for gambling: only risk what you are able to lose.

So what have you been listening to? Do you ever go through rough times, when new music manages to evade your every attempt to track it down? When I encounter these phases I usually revert to the classics. The same is true here. Been listening to 80's punk, mostly Subhumans, Discharge and early DRI, along with Bolt Thrower "Realm of Chaos" and Godflesh "Streetcleaner." But between all of this, I get around to my favorite grind band from Poland: Suffering Mind. Poland has quite the grind scene - worth spending an hour between The Archives and friend jumping on MySpace. Off the top, there is Ass To Mouth, F.A.M., Dead Infection, and a certain Squash Bowels.

SxMx is an intense experience. They play raw, dirty crust grind at the speed of hate. The punk influence is strikingly obvious. There is little bullshit, little filler and when they do slow down, it's actually rather welcoming. If any one is looking for a quality, motivating, get up and fucking grind CD, "At War With Mankind" is the one for you. Seriously. Downloading is not enough. That is one to own. Below is all things SxMx. I know the band will probably hate me for this, but they tend to release their tunes on vinyl which is fastly becoming the red-headed step child of media formats. They need to get heard somehow... Shouts to Keep The Grindcore Alive for the Destroy Mankind EP. That's the only one I can't find a physical copy of.

destroy mankind ep
at war with mankind
asshammer split
lycanthropy split
wojtyla split

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Vaginal Bear Trap - Slow Jams

VBT Space
Release - TBC
Type: Mp3 / CD (maybe?)
Label - TBC

The first images that come to mind when I ponder what a vaginal bear trap might look like are humorously disturbing. It can't be made of metal or plastic or else only a starving bear would come within a mile of it. And who wants an emaciated bear skin rug? So what else could it be?

Fucked up imagery and cool name aside, Texas three-piece VBT is a good band. Beyond the grind essentials they bring a little bit of everything to the table on Slow Jams. A fair amount of March, Stomp and Groove. Some Thrash breaks tossed in for good measure. Lots of double bass. And more palm muted riffs than you can gnash your teeth at. So yeah, best of luck pigeonholing these guys into any sub genre. The music grinds. No question here. I never read the lyrics, so I'm not sure what the subject matter is, but if the seriously awesome song titles are any indication then a gore tag may be in order. "Abortion, Apple Pie & D-Beats," "Menstrual Gravy" and "Climaxipad" spring to mind.

I have only nice things to say about the music presented here. The production is great. The riffs keep moving and the band is tuned much closer to thrash than to death or gore - so the bass stands out and their crust/punk bits have more credibility. I enjoyed "Eternal Hangover," "Abortion, Apple Die & D-Beats," the short but sweet "Crystal Meth Mountain" and "Stream." The old-school, proto-death metal vocals are also a plus.

The only issue I take with VBT is in their sample selection. I know this is a personal thing. Some will laugh at them. Some will enjoy them. And who knows, maybe they jive with the lyrics. I simply hate where most of these samples came from. To me they're incongruous. But I really do like the tunes so I'm going to get the CD (if it's ever released). And if the band doesn't mind, I plan on ripping it, removing these samples and burning a proper disc.

A band-sponsored download is available here. Get your jam on.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

No Gang Colors - This Is Your God EP

Release: 2010
Type: MP3 / CD-R
Label: Self Released

I don't get around to music like this as often as I should. It's two distinct things living together in harmony. On one hand, it's a three way, no holds barred grudge match between hardcore, industrial and metallic crust with Double Picked Riffing as the impartial referee. On the other it's effects heavy, we recorded this in the middle of an empty warehouse, extreme ambiance. The combination is interesting, expressive and worthy of repeated listens.

To elaborate on that, the guitars take center stage in the production. The band's aggression comes directly from the amount of space their riffs take up. Then they add samples, effects pedal sounds and feedback as a means to focus this. The drums are sparse yet powerful in that industrial, almost sequenced way. There are few blasts and a little more mid-tempo double bass. That minimalist approach to drumming adds a nice contrast to the riffs.

Some of the sound-scapes they create, like Who Fed My Indian and the last half of Chicago Churches could run on for a few minutes longer and no one would complain. It's like they wrote a full album and then intentionally trimmed it down to a bite-sized sample platter. I would have been happy with the full length, but their idea of brevity sits well with me.

I enjoyed this thoroughly. The first track serves as an intro. It has a lot of static and a lo-fi feel, like it was recorded separately. The EP proper is tracks 2-6 with the final song, Darkman, serving as outro filler. In my opinion, This Is Your God should have ended with the closing sample in Chicago Churches. I think it would create a more rewarding listen. Also that would be six songs in 10 minutes which is about right for an EP. Either way, I look forward to some more from these guys.

There is a band-sponsored download here along with their back catalog. Give them a chance.