In 2015, in a crowded house show somewhere in the continental United States, a large group of punks adorned in DRI and Spazz patches shivered. They knew something was about to happen, something monumental, yet could not put their fingers on it. And so they sat, drinking shitty, luke warm beer from the can while casually shooting the shit about what Infest record gave the one true representation of their sound, as well as whether or not it was weird that the band was still playing some 30 years later. However, the looming feeling that something, something massive, was on the horizon loomed, and eventually they could no longer take it, pulling out their capitalist pig iPhones in unison so that they could check their Facebooks, aiming to discover exactly what was going on.
And there was where they saw it, shared by friends with names like “Crusty Mike”; Magrudergrind was back, and in 2016 they were once again seeking to obliterate the standards of grindcore and powerviolence, forcing their way back into the scene with all the grace of a drunken Tyrannosaurus Rex shot full of horse tranquilizers.
Magrudergrind has always been a bit of a poster child within the world of grindcore/powerviolence, toeing the line between the two more carefully than most and, as a result, churning out some of the most utterly vulgar music ever created. The band does not just take the blistering speed and molasses-sludge breakdowns of powerviolence, but adds a healthy dose of grindcore’s frantic, metallic guitar work to give it an even more finely tuned edge. Take, for example, lead single off of Magrudergrind’s most recent hate fest, “Sacrificial Heir”. The track bleeds with worship of such acts as Capitalist Casualties and Infest, starting off with a hardcore riff before launching into a distinctly grind flurry of d-beats and blast beats. The song is frantic and aggressive, never landing in a calm spot, but instead choosing to only slow down once at the end to fit in one last session of hardcore riffing. The distinct Magrudergrind stamp is there, but feels more refined, as if the band has recognized that a more organized approach to song structure doesn’t need to subtract from their unchecked aggression, but rather serve as a new medium to channel it.
Now, back to the party. Punks decked out in Slap-a-ham shirts rage, eagerly awaiting the return of their heroes, chattering excitedly. Then, a new face enters, sporting a vintage Charles Bronson t-shirt. He goes by the name Crappy Stan, and in his hand he holds his phone, loaded up and ready to go with II. He plugs in his phone, turning on the track “Incarceration State”, and a circle pit immediately opens up in whoever’s parents this party takes place in. After all, Magrudergrind has always been a band to rage to, inspiring circle and push pits of epic proportions, taking no prisoners as it progresses at such breakneck speeds that a wired cocaine junkie would feel tired afterwards. Magrudergrind may have lost their former drum wonder kid Chris Moore, but current drummer Casey Moore shows that he is more than capable of carrying on his legacy, and rarely lets the band fall to a sludgy pace. Once again, a Magrudergrind trademark but more refined in only a way that Magrudergrind could reign in their speed while still keep their unholy levels of aggression.
And perhaps that is what truly allows II to shine through, not only standing up to their widely loved self titled, but almost dethroning it as the essential listen in their discography. Everything Magrudergrind has ever done is rehashed on II, but comes off as more mature, cleaned up in a way that does not say “I’m moving to the suburbs and totally winged it on this record” but in a way that says “I finally stopped pissing on things in public and might even get a full time job”. The band is by no means less angry or showing any signs of slowing down, but simply redirecting their anger, creating a more pointed, directed final product. It is an interesting transition, but one that had to happen eventually and ultimately pays off as it presents a fresher, more diabolic Magrudergrind than ever before.
However, there is a slight price to pay with the band’s new found maturity. While the songs may overall create a more pointed, powerful final product, there is not a single sample to be found out through all of II, a slightly disappointing blip in an overall stellar piece of music as the listener is deprived of J-Roc’s voice. A shame, but if it is the price to pay for a tighter, more violent Magrudergrind, than it is one that sadly must be paid.
Finally, the party is coming to an end. Scabby Jeff’s parents came home and they were none to pleased to find a slew of un-showered 20-somethings drinking (spilling) beer in their suburban basement. After a long talk, one in which his father inquires why he stopped showering and why the hell he was wearing a t-shirt for the actor Charles Bronson, Jeffery walks upstairs to his room, lays down on his bed, and plugs in II. The album is fierce, a powerful comeback for Magrudergrind and perhaps definitive proof that even with their love for Toyota Scion and a bit more age, they are still more than capable of churning out a final product filled to the brim with finely tuned rage. The drums are massive, the vocals a dirty bark-screech combo, and the guitar a wall of heavily distorted sound that cries Kurt Ballou’s name every time it’s heard. With II, Magrudergrind did not just show that they intend to once again pummel the grindcore and powerviolence scenes into submission, but also showed the imposters that rose in their absence that no one can ever truly take their place.
It’s getting down, let’s get grind. Magrudergrind.