Thursday, February 18, 2016

Top Five Favorite Grind Albums of 2015

I wasn't all that impressed with a lot of what 2015 had to offer. I could have probably extended this list to a top 10, as I initially planned to, but I feel like the latter half would have really just been passable releases that I enjoyed but wasn't really blown away by. Maruta's Remain Dystopian, Fulgora's debut Stratagem, Agents Of Abhorrence's Relief, and Antigama's Insolent all most likely would have helped round it out; but there would have been that thick line of demarcation between the records released this year which I thought were really good, and some other stuff that I just listened to a couple of times and was never really moved by; So here are the top 5 albums that I thought deserved specific attention:

5. Beaten II Death - Unplugged

 
I haven't looked too much into what the consensus is on this album or this band; but I have this weird feeling that it has the potential to act as a bit of a gateway to those who don't regularly tread in extreme waters all that often. Heard of Deafheaven? For those that haven't they're a band who take the cold, swarming and often dissonant sounds of Black Metal and shape it into something warm, groovy and almost uplifting - thusly pissing off legions of narrow-minded Black Metal elitist fans who just can't accept the attention it seems to be drawing from crowds who have never bought a Marduk CD or debated the merits of influence Emperor had on the new wave of BM forged outside of Norway. Beaten II Death's Unplugged could be that same black sheep within the Grindcore genre (perhaps the track title "Death To False Grindcore" - in quotes -  is another giveaway). What that means to me is that it's a band that's actually doing something different, and kind of daring, and I like that. Everything on Unplugged is something I could easily slip into a playlist for anyone of my friends that would consider a band as lame as Lamb Of God as borderline "too heavy" and maybe even win them over with it (though still doubtful). It's accessible, and doesn't take itself too seriously either - both in it's content (based mostly on the song titles) as well as some of the over-the-top porngrindish guttural wretches that carry themselves on too long - possibly a downside to the overall experience. But never-the-less, Unplugged is a welcome breath of fresh air, and damn enjoyable.



4. Evisorax - Goodbye To The Feast...Welcome To The Famine


Teetering the line somewhere between the thin treble-heavy veil of Blood I Bleed and the jagged technicality of Discordance Axis, Evisorax's third full length Goodbye To The Feast...Welcome To The Famine floats like a butterfly and rips open throats like a roided up Cujo. With zero breathing room and flash-in-the-pan running time, Evisorax harness the perfect Grind concoction whose nitrous-like high feels like an audio vaporization of your essence happening right between the ears. A thicker, lower production on previously Scott Hull mastered releases is abandoned for a razor like sharpness that bleeds itself into riff changes keeping the over-all sound raw and almost garage-like; the songs bulk up enough to get the point across on more rhythmic breakdowns here and there without ever really killing the over-all momentum.  This is fast swarm-of-insects type grind done very right.




3. Cloud Rat - Qliphoth


It's place as a Grind album is questionable, but fuck all that, Cloud Rat are on a roll. 2014's Blind River was a dark, grinding and emotional experience - palpably visceral and desperate. 2015's Qliphoth enhances every aspect of it's predecessor, including upping the melody and beauty that seem to gestate beneath the punky hardcore riffs that break up the blasts, and sometimes even holding it up high for all to gaze upon (i.e. the wonderful opening of a fist that is 'Thin Vein', or ambient 'The Killing Horizon'). Things slow down a lot within the crippling journey that is Qliphoth, but it never takes away from the album's momentum, as that momentum isn't based on speed or even aggressiveness, but a longing desperation for a breathable atmosphere above a surface that is just out of reach. Cloud Rat dangles hope in front of the listener like a loaded syringe, which Qliphoth's experience has us violently jonesing for.

 
 
2. Napalm Death - Apex Predator 
 

I didn't want to do it but I have to be honest with myself, I love Napalm Death; and quite honestly I really love what they've done with the second half of their existence thus far since Enemy Of The Music Business - sorry Jon Chang. I know that putting a Napalm Death album even in the number two spot of top Grindcore albums of the year is to most elitists the equivalent of talking about Metallica anywhere, anytime, to anyone whose delved deeper into more honest/intense bands within the heavy metal genre, but we shouldn't let their flagship status take away from their uncompromising tenure, and their earned position as veterans and/or poster boys for the Grind genre (and I should learn to heed my own advice). Considering their style in the grand scheme of anything played with distortion, ND still eviscerate without an agenda. Apex Predator is yet another evolutionary step towards an unknown destination within the band's impressive catalogue; how the fuck do you manage to remain so vital, invigorated, and fresh sounding in such an infested space? Especially when one of the biggest adversaries to overcome is your own discography? Dissonant chords, goth-like reverberating vocals, industrial percussion, all added to a familiar formula of rabid barking over blurring riffs that toy with comprehensive song structures and - hooks! I can always argue that 90% of every song on every album in the second half of this band's career has parts that could be cut out to bring each piece's over all running time to a more handicapping punch to the gut; but given that that glaring issue is easily ignored because of the quality of the song itself speaks volumes to this band's talent. The fact that Apex Predator arguably out does every album that's outdone every album they've done before it in the last 20 years is impressive and awesome. And that last riff...that closing stomp of 'Copulating Snakes'...c'mon.

 
1. The Kill - Kill Them...All 
 
 
Kill Them...All, The Kill's second full length effort amongst an ass-ton of EP's, splits, and demos is - and forgive the redundancy here - a beefed up wad of really pissed off Grind.  The sound of the production, writing style, over-all instrumentation, as well as the Richard Johnson-like vocals are very much akin to Agoraphobic Nosebleed's 2009 straight-shooter Agorapocalypse (though maybe not as loud), fronting seriously strong structures whose power feels all the more amplified by the heavy bombardment of bass drum in-the-red sonics that add that pulse-rifle-like throbbing to the already pummeling tracks here. There is many a spot on the album where it even seems to suck the riffs happening in front of it into it's sound like a temporary Venturi Effect, thus creating a dizzying yet satisfying synchronization of chaos that feels like it's sucking the oxygen out of your living space and is over just a few milliseconds after you realize it's even happening at all. With strategic slow downs that never drag on too long and sudden singled-out guitar riff changes to reset the berserk, The Kill's sound on this record never get's tired nor hypnotic. It's characteristics like that which make this record truly top notch. Punk riffs propelled by constantly recharging blast beats brings forth a bit of a likeness to fellow Aussie's Extortion, though it all just seems twice as grindy and powerful than anything they've spat forth (to take NOTHING away from Extortion).  Kill Them...All is chalk full of jagged right, left and diagonal turns that go places beyond where you expect them to go, sometimes even just taking the option of barreling through and knocking you back further than you'd thought they would.
 

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