Subtlety is not exactly Mammoth Grinder‘s forte. Not that you’d expect them to have any with a band name like that, mind you, and their genres of choice don’t exactly demand it. But, it still bears saying that even by the standards of d-beat, death metal, crust punk, and sludge – the four of which they mix together in various portions across their discography – there is absolutely nothing to Mammoth Grinder beyond what immediately hits you.
Cosmic Crypt, of course, does not change that, nor would that be particularly desirable after almost five years without any new music. Mammoth Grinder’s return in exactly the same form they took back when Underworlds came out in 2013 couldn’t be better timed, though, as the context for such an album is completely different: we’re in the middle of a full-scale renaissance of raw, underground, punk- and grind-tinged death metal. It’s a wave that Mammoth Grinder played a definite part in inspiring: although underground extreme metal and more hardcore forms of punk have a long history of mingling, this upcoming wave of bands like Gatecreeper, Genocide Pact, and Of Feather and Bone have a definite debt to pay to these guys (among others, obviously).
As a result, Mammoth Grinder is in the odd scenario of having big shoes to fill at this auspicious moment, but these shoes being their own. Cosmic Crypt needs to be everything the band has been in the past – energetic, brutal, hard-hitting, groovy, powerful – while also elevating their craft and showing Mammoth Grinder off as the lean, mean, killing machine they’ve become in the interim period since 2013. And for the most part, it definitely does! This is a very enjoyable and unmistakably Mammoth Grinder set of songs – 11 tracks total, clocking in at about 28 minutes – that bear the mark of a band assured in their craft and ready to pulverize whatever stands in their way back to the front of the genre. The guitar and bass, both in writing and tone, sit comfortably somewhere between Louisville slugger and sledgehammer levels of knock-your-face-in, the drums flip back and forth between death metal, grind/mince, and hardcore styles to aptly punctuate each new riff, and the vocals are razor-wire bursts that further elevate each song’s rhythmic attack.
The in-your-face style of Mammoth Grinder, combined with the relatively short album length, give Cosmic Crypt an odd issue, though not a crippling one: this album is both too short and too long. One one hand, it’d be wonderful to see the band slow down for a track or two and lean much harder into their death and sludge metal roots for something to break up the album’s rapid-fire pacing, on the other hand, though, every track here could be 30% faster and the additional momentum would absolutely elevate Cosmic Crypt to the next level.
Cosmic Crypt may not be the nuclear payload of an album that it could have been, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a great album in its own right. When all is said and done, Mammoth Grinder has certainly put out a great early frontrunner for 2018’s sure-to-be-amazing wave of punk-/grind-/sludge-tinged death metal albums, and it’s not hard to see this remaining a contender as the year marches on.
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Cosmic Crypt comes out on January 26th, this Friday, through Relapse Records. Unfortunately, there are no cassette runs of this album (yet), but you can preorder it here if you’re interested.