Written by: Izzy
So, for a little bit now I've been doing weekly retrospective reviews on older albums I enjoy a lot, with the main intent being for you as the reader to find new albums you may enjoy, and for me as the writer to get to talk about albums I may never have gotten to otherwise
But of course, as I am human and not a machine, sometimes I find it difficult deciding on what to review, twiddling my thumbs and trying out various rough draft ideas until eventually that fateful Friday creeps up on me and I’m left still unsure what to do. This was my response to my (admittedly self-created) new problem.
Peasantry’s Picks! This will be an occasional retrospective format I use for talking about a small, themed selection of EPs or short albums that would be nigh-impossible to review in the format of a full-length dissection, but when paired together offer a lovely little charcuterie of releases to sample and taste. And in the last minute spirit of this, I decided I wanted to talk about a handful of almost absurdly short grindcore EPs that, despite their unimposing runtime, I can’t resist coming back to. Like musical junk food, these EPs and albums are addicting, almost impossible to play just once. Each project presented is 10 minutes or less in length, and some as short as 5 minutes! So if you enjoy grindcore, I see absolutely no reason not to do yourself a favour and check them out.
Bandit - Warsaw (2018)
Bandit are a Philly band with a brisk discography to binge through, but they are at their absolute best on their one and only “album,” Warsaw. This is their longest release with an entire 7 minutes (although really it’s only 5 excluding the 2 minute outro) of ferocious and complex grindcore that holds your attention hostage with jagged and angular riffs, and horrifyingly heavy on-the-dime breakdowns, resulting in songs that are short and brutal while remaining catchy and fun. With it’s short length you’d be forgiven for completely ignoring the tracklist all together and just listening to the whole thing as if it were one titanic song, or titanic by grindcore’s standards at least.
Kaya - Life•Is•Trivial (2018)
Kaya’s one and only release to date, Life•Is•Trivial, is a 5 minute morsel of straightforward and vicious grindviolence. It is filled with whiplash tempo changes into mini-breakdowns that could easily destroy a moshpit in their brief duration, with some exceptional drumming that really drives everything home, as well as some very raw screams and beastial growls from vocalist Feral. Some might say this album sounds amateurish; everything is fairly lofi, the shrieks have a noticeable breathiness and rasp you won’t find from a professional vocalist, and while the instrumentals pack a ton of punch, they’re far from reinventing the wheel, but that’s a huge part of Kaya’s charm. While there’s next to no information on the band that I could dig up, this whole release gives off that feeling of a bunch of friends getting together and recording a kickass piece of grind just for the fun of it.
Kuroi Jukai (黒い樹海) - Kuroi Jukai (2015)
Similarly to Kaya, this standout Canadian grind band also has only a single release, but it’s just as fantastic. An absolutely unrelenting and filthy release on its own merits, with its pinging hyperblasts and powerviolence-esque shifts into slow and oppressive chugs. However, it also allows itself to stand out from the crowd of similar bands by incorporating noise into its dense weald of intense soundscapes, making for an especially abrasive and unforgiving listen for the unprepared, but an especially thrilling and rewarding one for those like myself, who live for finding those impenetrable and unappealing diamonds in the rough that end up ignored by those unable to stand their ruthless sonic assault on the senses.
Gendo Ikari - Unit 1 (2016)
And having saved my favourite for last...Gendo Ikari are easily one of the best modern grindcore groups if you ask me, they do owe very much to Discordance Axis, originally started just as a project for the bandmembers to show off their love for this classic grind act, but they’ve blossomed into a band that perfectly represent everything their predecessor sought out to do, dishing out a dissonant and technical knack for straddling the lines between mathcore and grind. That said, they've added their own flair with some strongly death metal indebted riffs, and crushingly groovy downtuned nastiness. No other band right now sounds like this, and Gendo Ikari aren’t even done experimenting with their style yet. Their split with Droves brought their style into an even more manic and unhinged direction, their 2018 EP Unit 2 doubles down on the those pummeling sludgy riffs that highlighted Unit 1, and their most recent 3-way split with Blight Worms and Retortion Terror sees them drinking even deeper from the pool of death metal inspiration. Truly a band and an EP I cannot recommend highly enough.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!