Written by: Izzy
Grindcore is a super divisive genre, I’ve only ever heard three kinds of responses when I ask people if they like grindcore.
A. "I love it! It’s the grossest, rawest, and most intense genre out there."
B. "Most of it is garbage, but there’s a handful of good bands, have you heard of Discordance Axis?"
Or C: "Ma’am this is a Tim Hortons please just take your coffee."
All of which are acceptable responses, but show a lack of understanding of what truly makes the genre so amazing. For me at least, true grindcore is the perfect fusion of punk energy and metal's ferocity. Now few albums do so flawlessly, even much of modern hardcore and metalcore in some way or another falls short of reaching this unrelenting nirvana. But grindcore? Grindcore is the one genre that knows how to harness that chaotic ecstasy and craft it into something that achieves that bliss amongst the madness.
Take even a cursory glance at the gloriously garish cover art before ye, and this much is exceedingly clear: Long Island's own Gorilla Wizard know how to have a good time. Their debut album, Tales From the Cauldron, is a bombastic and rip-roaring piece o' work, through and through. If you're not in the mood for high-energy fun, this wasn't made with you in mind. Don't really know what else to say.
Chunky grooves and contiguously crunchy riffs rule the roost. You know what I'm talkin' about--the kind of sasquatchian chest-beating riffs that lumber into the swamp and then back out again, dripping and covered in gunk, without a goddamn care in the world.
As much of the album operates according to this simple but effective guitar-driven approach, any tracks I would consider standouts simply apply the formula most egregiously. "Smashosaurus," "Maple Crunch," and "Black and Blue" are perhaps the most memorable moments, and the best introduction to Gorilla Wizard's jubilant brand in general.
This particular Slumbering Villager's talents don't exactly fall in the “songwriting” category, but this I know: unless you're the immortal Bongripper, creating compelling long-form instrumental doom is damn hard. Fuzz-ridden repetition, while a hallmark, is a blessing and a curse, and few outfits command the dynamism required to pull it off. The lack of vocals effectively guillotines a prime focal point. And we haven't even begun to mention the encroaching boredom that lurks sullenly at every turn. While there are always exceptions, doom of this ilk often goes on and on without ever saying anything interesting. Much like...well, much like this introduction. Really painted myself into a corner there.
Sometimes a band has a almost-but-not-quite grand debut, the kind of album that bears the weight of rookie flaws, but speaks of something larger to come. And then, sometimes, said band delivers tenfold on their next outing, absolutely shattering notions of sophomore slump. And sometimes the groggy-eyed scribe who said he'd review the album in question in a timely manner spends two months mulling over how best to put his emamorment into words. And that lands us here, with Wolf Blood’s II spinning for what seems the umpteenth time.
Wolf Blood is one of those bands who revel in throwing a bevy of ideas at the wall and hoping they stick. Unlike most who engage in such reckless activity, these folks are really damn good at making sure it all stays up there. It’s purely original stuff, and in this business, that's a significant and rare quality.
Lest ye readers read the forthcoming praise and subsequently turn upon us scribes in our lofty ivory tower, brandishing pitchforks and torches whilst profusely bleeding through wretched earholes, let me make something clear. Treading Water, the debut LP from Milwaukees’ two-man grind unit LIFES, is not a pleasant listening experience. Both in conventional and unconventional sense.
Treading Water is a brief but pugilistic cacophony, a squealing and burping punk-ridden grindy mess. LIFES carry themselves with the boisterous aggression, powerviolent attitude, and hardcore gravitas of Iron Lung or Dropdead, combined with the wild grinding invention of (my personal scene faves) The Locust. But sonically, the closest comparison I can draw is the vocal delivery of Liberteer's Matthew Widener. That said, both Zak Rudnik and Dave Holochwost handle vocal duties; I'm not sure which is which. Both are pretty damn excellent, it should be worth noting, and no matter who is roaring, the message comes across clear.