Grind My Gears – Where The Sludge Lives

I’ve written and deleted four or five attempts at an introductory paragraph for this edition of Grind My Gears. The stretches I was trying to make happen were ridiculous. Seriously. I went with a vague Pretty Woman metaphor, tried to open with a “religious subtext” shtick, eventually deciding to pack all that in when I was 250 words into an argument with myself concerning the Oscars and why they need a Best Arterial Spray category. It was a mess. All in the name of trying to introduce a trio of acts who succeed in pairing grind and sludge with shameless ease. I’ve done the introduction now. Here are two bands that have music out that is great and also happen to play grind with elements of sludge involved.

That wasn’t so fucking difficult now, was it.

WVRM Have A New EP Out: Title Is Not A Thinly Veiled Fart Euphemism

I’m laughing at my own joke. I’ve hit a new low. Just as well I have the slick, savage sounds of WVRM to lift me up out of this mire. Can You Hear The Wind Howl is the latest offering from South Carolina’s most prolific grind outfit and it delivers the exact type of depraved, sensory overload grind that I require in day to day life. With a simple, self administered descriptor of “self hatred”, there is little to no fooling around when it comes down to the swarming grind attack of this band.

With some guy called Kurt Ballou behind the dials, WVRM sound heavier and nastier than ever. Their production has always been an asset in boosting their performances beyond regular grind expectations and this is no different. Thick, crunching guitars and crisp, booming snare hits make every low and slow, fast blast combo beg to be turned up to an anti-social level. The in-your-face nature of the band’s material lends itself to situations where every other voice in the room needs shut down and shut out. Whack on the unflinching “Swollen Belly” for the uncompromising respite of tar soaked grind, “Bag of Blades” for an all out, unlubricated assault on the senses.

Even when WVRM slow it down and get sludgy on the title track and “Suffer Ritual”, there’s a hostility in the air that lingers longer than the hum of a Subway fart in a crowded elevator. The discord and distortion from Nix’s gravel gargle doesn’t spew out, instead the traditionally harsh vocals tell stories. They are short stories mind you – “Distinguished”: They don’t understand and they never will – but each one makes sense. These are the worst moments of the subject’s lives, whether it’s a starving Third World family or a lost child in Middle America. Regardless of your interpretation, it’s not pretty. Can You Hear The Wind Howl at it’s worst is still better than a lot of bands trying to grind outside of the genre’s basic requirements.

Bled To Submission Bleed Me Into Submission, Now I Have To Write This

Just to be clear, Bled To Submission did nothing to me that I didn’t specifically ask for. I pressed play on the back of a promise of experimental sludge and grindcore and I left with exactly that. I just didn’t expect to enjoy it so much. This might have been because at the time I’d sat and listened to everything tagged grind on Bandcamp for about three hours (that’s like… 1000 grind releases by the way). I had almost tapped out when I stumbled across Only A Light Remains, the first full length from this rag tag batch of noise creators. Then I did tap out. Geddit?

The expression of ideas on this debut is outstanding. Without being able to pinpoint exact references, it’s clear that there are doom, sludge, stoner and grind CD’s in the Bled To Submission van. Like some freak accident from an 80’s cult classic, lightning must have struck the van and all of the CD’s turned the band into some hybrid protogrind phenomena, complete with black metal frills and post-rock guitar skillz. The ‘z’ was totally necessary.

Everything started out quite pleasantly on “Terror Eclipsed” too, the weed number flashing vibrantly through the haze before WHOOSH. The fucking hemp rug was pulled out from under my feet and I was welcomed angrily into a world of rattling blasts and sickening screams. Instant fan. “Brought To A Boil” gets super stoner before the blackened grind and wretched vocals kick back in, flooring me again. Just what exactly did I stumble upon here? Had I just completed Bandcamp? What is this?

SOME GREAT FUCKING GRIND, THAT’S WHAT! It’s easy to get lost trying to use fruity language and descriptors but at the most base level, this is grindcore that made me think about what I was hearing. That’s right. I used more than the rudimentary functions of turning sound into a slow, back and forth head movement. The terror inducing “Prisoner 8612” pulled a Stanford Prison Experiment on me and left me in my own mental cell, wondering why I was being singled out and made to feel actual things by music. It’s not a comfortable listen by any stretch, and that’s precisely why you should be listening to them right now and having your own personal meltdown because of it. This will be your lo-fi savage fix for the month.


Don’t Grind For Me, Argentina

Mad props/shout out/respect to Mathcore Index for again bringing another fucking BEAST of a new act to my attention. Pannaural could quite easily have appeared on the Math edition of Grind My Gears too, but for the purposes of filling out this article and because they get pretty sludgy on a few tracks, they’re featured here. From Argentina with his debut Monocroma, Pannaural (a one man show, would you believe it?) provides an eclectic mix of grind, math metal and sludge that long time fans (you are my everything) might remember thefalls playing. Hard to describe, I guess, but I suppose that’s what I’m here for?

Like the other debut above, this is mighty impressive stuff, leaving a lasting impression mere moments into the run time. If I had to be strong armed into a dumb comparison I’d say it’s like Cult of Luna playing grind. In South America. “Ego” and “144” are the two standouts from my first run through, with seriously tortured vocals and a berating rhythm section the driving force of the grind attack. Math and post-metal guitars the connection point between the extreme and intricate styles that permeate throughout Monocroma; the sludge coming from long passages of picked chords, soaked in something between feedback and ambience.

Like Bled To Submission, there is a lot to unpack on a first impression of this band. Sounds like this really shouldn’t work together but still they do. Somehow. The three part finalé is a total treat, begging for fans of extreme music to get stuck into and I know that several of the Heavy Blog hierarchy will be getting down to this in the very near future. Join us. Share the shit out of this. Please. I’ll stop with the awful sub headings. Maybe.

The longer the note, the more dread