Monday, March 23, 2015

Album Review: Hivesmasher - 'Gutter Choir'

I get nervous about investing myself in new bands. There is many a genre out there where I've followed the formula of having merely a handful of groups I feel connect with me and represent that piece of the pie of what they do very well that I end up putting those self-stamped elite high upon a pedestal, and don't necessarily bother getting to know the other foot soldiers of that genre nor give them a fair shot. It's not that I'm trying to be snobbish about it, I've just been burned in the past with burnout... You find a band that does something so well that instead of just sticking with said band and accepting their sound as theirs and unique to them you dive headfirst into a pool of lackluster imitators to get that same fix that either don't do it as well or you just don't connect with for whatever reason. By the time you realize the mistake you've made by spreading yourself a bit too thin you've already watered down the sound of the original band that sent you down this path. I know I'm kind of a minority in this philosophy, but I still get the desired emotional results any of those genres are designed to deliver when I keep my cache elite. I often question if the guy blasting Gridlink in the car next to me (never happened by the way) on his way to lunch gets the same impact from it that I do when I selectively listen to said band whilst in the gym or punching a wall... Or the dude cleaning his garage on a summer afternoon while Pallbearer meanders in the background, is it moving him the way it moves me as I engage from the top of a wooded hill in the cold of late November? Or am I just an incredible snob plagued with tunnel vision? I just don't want to lose the rush that Grindcore delivers so well.

That being said, you have to take that risk when you want to find something new, because it's very rare that something is served your way in such an underrated genre - even with the internet's many degrees of bolstering. More than a few of my Grindcore elite have burned out, leaving me with fantastic back catalogues that will never be built upon, gaps in the future where I long to relive the experience of hearing one of my favorite bands deliver a beating I get to indulge in for a first time. I've found that the only fair way to sample something new from a band dabbling in the blasts and blur is to open my ears to an entire album from start to finish, an opportunity I'm able to revel in more easily thanks to Smart Phones and a recent subscription to Spotify. You have to accept the entire ass kicking before you can judge it's merit. Hivesmasher delivers...And the gap they fill? Bodies In The Gears Of The Apparatus.

For the six of us out there that really enjoyed BITGOTA it's a ballsy statement, but there is a familiarity to Hivesmasher's brand of technical clusterfuck-grind that I couldn't shake after the first full listen. Gutter Choir is body-chalk full of unpredictable palm-muted gallops collapsing beneath blasting grind surges that bridge brief driving hooks. The tracks barrel at you so quickly with barely a space to take a breath in between. The viscosity of the noise is rivaled by a sense of humor buried in the varying RPMs, as is obvious with track titles like 'Can of Awesometism' and 'Enroute to Meatland' - not to mention the same penchant for un-needed movie samples that potentially suck from the albums belligerence (the only true downfall I have these days with the aforementioned BITGOTA's Symian Hybrid Prototype). The production is better than most debuts in this genre, and the band even displays the same sort of  'do whatever the fuck we want' kind of disposition with a thirty minute brain-dump of samples and noise in the last track 'Send Me To Satan' that serve as a precursor to a tech-grind cover of Foo Fighters' 'Everlong'.

Whilst opener 'Bye Bye Baby' lulls you into an almost melodic ending after a powerviolent opening attack, it's follow-up 'Vomitouch' actually sounds like the swarming of insects likened to the band's moniker, with a similar vibe to serve as a trifecta in 'Strangled Beings and Vice Versa' that you won't even realize you've gotten through until it's over and you check the numbers. The entire album works as a collective fist here, and while the tracks are jaggedly stop and go, hold and release, there is a flow beneath it all that keeps you from tensing down until the break in the last song. A definite standout for me is 'And They Thought We'd Forget', which brazens an almost epic feel within it's chaos, the kind of the thing that feels like a bloodstained flag being hoisted amongst ongoing carnage.

I've listened to both Hivesmasher's Gutter Choir and BITGOTA's Symian Hybrid Prototype back to back after the lightbulb went off and feel pretty strongly about the similarities in sound. I don't feel like anyone is getting ripped off because Hivesmasher puts forth a really solid album here that I enjoyed right away, most likely because I'm still choking on the trail of smoke BITGOTA left when they up and fuckin' stopped being. I'd definitely be curious to see if anybody else ever felt/feels that way about the record and identifies a similarity. Because desperation can really fuck with the sense and senses. I dig the hell out of Gutter Choir, and am so glad I gave it a shot, because as far as I'm concerned I'm adding them to the elite.

Bandcamp page:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Album Review: Fiend - 'Derailed'

Fresno outfit's debut 9 song E.P. is like a six minute slow motion punch in the stomach sped-up - if that makes any sense. Sonically these brahs have it going ON, I dig the heavy-on-the-low-end Nails/Kill The Client power here with the old school high-and-tight snare to kind of counter it. The tracks rumble and burst through in gloriously monochromatic fashion, leaving the listener wondering if they're still hearing the same song they have been for the last 26 seconds or Fiend has bulldozed them further down the tracklist, and I always enjoy that quality in a Grind EP - when the whole thing is over before you know it by only the sound of the suffocating silence they've turn-tabled onto your cochlears. The vocals do leave a bit to be desired on a personal level, they teeter 50/50 on the extreme pursed-lip guttural bottom, and the high pitched scream at the top of the spectrum with no in between. Both ranges are completely indecipherable and the low vox almost kind of slow down the dark and beautiful shit-bonanza happening behind them with their dragged out Cannibal Corpsey brooootality. I just found myself wanting them to sing faster as the album progressed and it never happened. It's unfortunately almost somewhat comedic at some points. When Fiend do consciously slow down into a groove, as on the beginning of "Display of Insecurity', and 'Suffer In Silence' it works just fine (and what a groove it is). They cover the gamut here and don't paint outside the lines but the pummeling is still delivered.  'Derailed' sounds like grade-A professional quality grind, and while you could argue that it is a more than a bit run-of-the-mill it's always nice to have a band like this in your back pocket given the brief life-spans of so many other outfits out there and the ocean of mediocre nonsense that doesn't have the sonic anvil to the spine that these nine tracks bolster. I'll be keeping my eye on you, Fiend.

Here's their bandcamp page you sons of bitches: