A Scotsman, an American, and a Mexican walk into a bar. The Scotsman, wearing a Spazz shirt, compliments the American on his Discordance Axis cap, the American, in turn, admires the Mexican’s Insect Warfare patched jacket. All three order drinks, settling into a discussion rooted in their shared love of fuzz pedals and popcorn snares. “This must be some kind of a joke”, the barman coos; everyone else in the bar waits patiently for something resembling a punchline. But no, this is no joke. This is just the introduction to an edition of Grind My Gears that features bands from these three countries. The only joke is how many times I am going to write ‘dirty’ in this article.
Endless Swarm Swarm Endlessly
Coming in hot this year with an LP that sounds like everything awful about their hometown, Endless Swarm‘s Imprisoned In Skin is the big dirty. Edinburgh hasn’t exactly embraced powerviolence as a staple part of the Fringe, as of yet. This record is so enjoyable that they should let the band curate it. Eighteen minutes and eighteen tracks after hitting play, the snare will still be ringing in your ears when you eventually put on some Simple Minds to calm your shit down. Powerviolence is rarely this violent without losing the snap, crackle, and pop of the grindcore behind it.
A quick glance at their Bandcamp should be enough to tell you about Endless Swarm. Their output over the last five years has been nothing short of maniacal, joining splits, tributes and still finding the time to release material on their own. Their first ‘full-length’ is the culmination of all previous efforts, delivering the jumped up punk of the genre’s heyday while effortlessly cranking the fuzz and filth up to almost intolerable levels. “Ether” and the title track open up the record in blinding fashion, the blown-out bass and wild, panicked vocals a pretty good barometer for anyone simply intrigued by the fantastic artwork. Make no mistake, if you’re not looking for powerviolence, you’re too soft for this.
Endless Swarm rain down dirt and filth like a cascading tower of fuck; eardrums and teeth, rattling in time to the devious, seemingly at random array of blasts, d-beats and bully stomps. “Interpolate” shows off just how nasty the bass gets, anchoring the mayhem while the call and response vocals do their best to upset literally anyone listening. “Awakened Lens” is rammed full of mean riffs and snappy drums, but without the vocals, these tools would lose a lot of their impact. While the band use their instruments to push your face down onto the curb, the vocals are there in your ear the whole time – shrieking, screeching, growling, bellowing, and more. The back and forth nature of the delivery keeps everything chugging forward, never losing momentum; something that a lot of grind and violence records are guilty of once they hit the ten-minute mark. You might struggle to pick a stand out track, but you will for sure remember specific bursts of auditory bedlam.
I don’t think there’s ever been a band name that so fittingly describes the atmosphere generated by their music. Go buy their shit.
Soaked In Disillusion Are Wet’n’Wild
Representing the US of A today are California’s Soaked In Disillusion, a mathgrind act that channel Mike Patton, Max Cavalera, as well as the wacky grind bands you remember from Myspace. It might be a bit of a stretch to suggest that these upstarts sound like Mr. Bungle or Soulfly, but the way their music attacks reminds me of both. Everyone’s heard that Vein record and many, like myself, have already tired of it. The new ‘nu-metal’ shtick is tired; throw a stone at any hardcore band starting out right now and they’ve probably got some early 2000s white-dude-with-dreads riffs in there at some point.
Soaked In Disillusion counter this tedium on their zany, crushing debut, partly due to their manic, thousand words a minute vocal attack. The hardcore bark works a treat on these tracks but is a little bit more special as the vocal lines flitter and frolic all over the riffs. Tuning their instruments to Ed Gein, these Culver City natives are at their best when shifting back and forth between savage, technical displays of math metal mayhem, and caveman style grindcore beatings. It’s not a new sound, by any means, but the way they grind out their performances is what makes this a special debut. Counter opens with the all too satisfying combination of drum’n’bass and deranged metal.”Rendering” and “Cling” both progress through passages of bullying tough guy riffs and passages with warbly clean guitars; the clean tones created using every single effects pedal Jerry Cantrell has ever used, probably. Throw in some wonderfully playful bits of glitching kick drums and oom-pah power beats and voila. Sickness ensues.
“Dormancy” is my highlighted track, primarily because it sounds the least like any one genre or style. Throughout Counter, Soaked In Disillusion fuck around with instrumental interludes that could be Opeth (“Jetty”) and wild nu-metal ragers that dramatically turn into chaotic hardcore (“Averse To”). “Dormancy” is the catch-all track, shifting tempo, groove, and styles several times throughout it’s three and a half minutes. It has the best example of the glassy, chorus-laden bass that punches through the mix on several occasions – hence the Soulfly comparisons. It even has a riff that could only be described as a three-step feel. Yes, that’s one more than two. I dunno, this is a tough one to describe because it hits me in so many places at once I’m not sure I can hold down exactly why I dig it. But I dig it. I’ve barely even touched on the slower, moody moments of this release. And I won’t. Listen for yourself.
It Can’t Be Shit, Being Shit Being
I fucking love this next band’s name. It doesn’t get much more grind than having the word Shit in your band name, that’s for sure. Other words this band could have used in their name that would be just as perfect – filth, crust, dirt, rot, fuck, ping, blast. Hailing from Mega-City One (Mexico City), Shit Being as a duo produce more noise than a band full of metalcore kids with extended range guitars, kick triggers, two vocalists etc. The grindcore is pure and unadulterated on this one. I love my mathgrind and weird, fresh takes on the genre, but sometimes you just wanna kick it 1988 style. I’m wearing double denim right now, that’s how committed I am to this article.
This self-titled release might clock in under fifteen minutes, but it fills every second with piss and shit. It’s pointless for me to break down tracks on this record, I just want to show my appreciation for the absolutely dirty bastards behind it – Micke (Screams & Blasts) + Koxy (Growls & Distortions), designations according to their Bandcamp. I’m a masochist, so I spend a lot of time browsing music appreciation groups – band fan pages, reaction channels, the Heavy Blog shitpost thread. Outside of grind specific groups, I can’t see very many folks from these channels enjoying this, to be honest. It’s warts and all (and more warts) grindcore for fans of the genre’s progenitors. No fuss stuff, indeed.
If you dig on Shit Being then please, get in touch and send me all the new grinders doing shit like this. In a grind band? Friends’ brother is in a grind band? Your aul’ da in a grind band? Fire them across. I want more festering filth in my ears. There are only so many well produced, genre-melding nouveau grindcore acts I can ingest before I want to feel the sting of dehydrated crust-punk urine in the back of my throat.