Look, I know. It's December, which means you'd much rather be catching up on all the music you missed rather than being clobbered with a continuing surge of new releases. But bear with me: the debut effort from grind duo Populace lasts for all of 9 minutes--and the tracklist is 10 tracks deep. Running those numbers indicates a certain disdain for unnecessary filler and fluff. We're dealing with brevity at its most blistering here. Bread and Roses, in other words, certainly ain't going to take much of your time today, and what little time it takes is wholeheartedly worthwhile.
Without further ado, we inksplattered scribes are pleased and honored to premiere Populace's first outing in its entirety. In the search for music that wakes us from slumber, it really doesn't get more effective--nor enjoyable--than this. Dig in below, and we'll meet you on the other side!
Like unto the best that the world of grind has to offer--i.e. Discordance Axis, let's be real--this two-piece excels at delivering ideas, both sonic and thematic, in their most succinct form. Like capturing a fleeting thought in amber, Populace use a single sample, howl, or churning riff as the basis for an explosive diatribe. Take opening track "Pollutant," which swiftly introduces the abrasivity with rolling drums and ranting vocals over intensely crashing guitar. Even though Populace pump the brakes very briefly to deliver a little extra emphasis, the forward momentum is utterly unstoppable. And so it goes for the remainder: a thrashing freefall through chaos-imbued guitar 'n' drums, blips of samples from a veritable bevy of sources, and omnipresent raging vox. Even when they do slow things down a tad--take, for example, midway through "Cocoon"--the consistently unhinged delivery never feels restrained or contained. At the end of the day, Populace balances dynamic composition and outright emotive rage in a fashion that is pretty damn nuanced for grind.
I hesitate to ascribe a "political" label to Populace, being of the firm belief that music, art, and life in general is intrinsically political. But, as a general rule, the instrumentation itself serves as a vehicle for the lyrical content, which, in unrelenting fashion, decries "fascism and all of its ugly friends." It is the thematic content that grounds Populace in the chaos, and topics such as pollution, ableism, and the churn of capitalism similarly find a strong foundation in the pure visceral anger of the instrumentation. It's a well-executed balancing act between form and function. Both thematically and sonically, nothing here is delivered gently--and that, of course, is by design.
Given the brevity on display, discussing individual tracks feels like a moot point. That said, lead single "Pangea" and the aforementioned "Cocoon" are, in my book, the strongest individual showings here--but listening in isolation from the remainder is hardly recommended. Rest assured: with Bread and Roses, there is never a dull moment.
Populace - Bread and Roses will be released on Dec. 4th, 2020, and can be pre-ordered here! Artwork by Misha Mono
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.
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