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.
Mr. Matsubara has done quite a bit in the grindcore underground, playing in 9 different bands (from what I could dig up), namely his old band Mortalized which was making music for 26 years, rubbing elbows with some of the most celebrated bands in the genre, including the aforementioned Discordance Axis. As if he wasn’t prolific enough, after suffering an injury in 2014 which partially paralyzed his left hand, you’d think most artists would call it quits, but Takafumi Matsubara kept going and made a full recovery and here we are with his first solo project, Strange, Beautiful and Fast.
Strange, Beautiful and Fast is a spastic, unrelenting 17 track barrage that, while, absurdly intense, isn’t afraid to slow down or throw a couple curveballs, it’s not just a one-note album that never switches things up. Adding to that is a wide roster of featured artists on this album, including but not limited to: Dylan Walker of Full Of Hell fame, Alan Dublin from Gnaw and Khanate, Bhotey Gore of Chepang and Richard Hoak of Total Fucking Destruction.
As it stands it’s already a diverse, creative, and unique grindcore album, but almost as if that wasn’t enough they went ahead and decided to flip the bird to the genre's devoted purists too, with a track featuring a grindy take on Japanese hip hop, and it is frankly amazing. Not only would I consider it a fantastic standalone song, in the context of the album, it’s the perfect left turn and in that true grindcore spirit of doing whatever you want. That’s one quality of grindcore shared by few genres, it rarely takes itself completely seriously and is more than happy to mock gatekeepers, purists, and detractors.
This doesn’t mean the musicians aren’t putting sweat and love into the music, but rather that they’re not afraid to make fun of themselves, or do something that’s weird for the sake of being weird. Grindcore is a genre that, odd as it may seem, is about having fun, and less strangely so, not giving two fucks about what anyone else says (pardon my french).
The final product of all these wide ranges of influence, and their attitude of un-apologetically making the music you want, is one of the most ardent and aggressively ambitious grindcore albums I’ve heard. It is and isn’t grindcore in every way--mixing elements of hardcore punk, powerviolence, screamo, extreme metal, metalcore, and mathcore, and probably plenty more with a thick layer of crazy technical playing on top.
To elaborate, this isn’t a classic grindcore album. It doesn’t have the trashcan snares or the gurgly vocals or the horrible production, it’s almost closer to an amalgamation of genres from across the punk and metal spectrum, but in the end it comes together into an album that can only be truly described as grindcore. It’s brutal and ferocious, but isn’t uptight and knows how to have fun.
In three words, it is strange, beautiful, and fast.
Takafumi Matsubara - Strange, Beautiful and Fast was released Sept. 2019 from GURKHA COMMANDO BLAST TEAM
This album is dedicated to the memory of Hee Chung. Rest in peace.
Providing thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy, and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a groggy-eyed, highfalutin peasantry.