Grist – City of Plight

This gritty little ditty was released in January of this year but, for some reason, hadn’t made its way across my feed until much more recently. Given that it’s a ten-minute grind/core release, some will make the point that it doesn’t deserve a full review nearly twelve months later. Those people would be wrong. Grist hail from Paris, la ville d’amour, but if the news networks you follow happen to have any backbone whatsoever, you’ll be quite aware that the city is anything but full of love right now. That’s just one reason why it makes sense to review their cracking EP, City of Plight. There are other reasons, in the next few paragraphs.

If Yé-Yé pop bands are Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris, then City of Plight is Mathieu Kassovitz’ La Haine. The dark underbelly of a city so commonly associated with romance is ruthlessly exposed by this vicious and surprisingly innovative grind attack. Opener “Serbian Box Cutter” toots with some jazzy sounds for a few seconds before giving way to a literal welcome to violence; the band slipping in a perfect little soundbite before opening up a big old can of grinding ass. Through the very brief run-time, City of Plight careens from thumping grooves and whiplash friendly shifts from vicious riff to vicious riff; “Stalincrack” sounds like three different tracks smashed together without sounding fractured, even though it only lasts for thirty seconds. Impressive.

In the way of Nails or other “false grind” acts, Grist relies quite heavily on their percussive element to keep everything moving forward, with the gravelly low-end strings doing their very best to shake the city’s catacombs back into life. Outside of a few wonderfully tight, wonderfully death metal trem-picked riffs, the bulk of the tracks are super reliant on simple, sludgy riffs. “La Méthode Du Sens Unique” is the most slovenly of the bunch, swinging a massive stoner riff around like a makeshift bat at a police officer’s head, made so much heavier by the fact that the drums are incredibly busy with intricate kick patterns and, my favourite, punchy cymbal chokes. It’s hard to be objective when every beat and note hits you right in the nuts, screaming “all cops are bastards” the entire time.

It would be a disservice to this record, and the musicians responsible, for boiling the review down to a few big riffs and fancy drum fills. The vocal delivery is refreshing, belonging more to European hardcore/metalcore of days old, and at times passable for Caleb Schofield’s (Cave In, Zozobra) cement-mixer tones. Closer “Robiocop” utilises this best, painting a bleak picture over a track that isn’t quite grind, hardcore, or death metal at any one point. The unnatural guitar sounds and harmonics that stab through the smog should ring out long after this brief blast of metropolitan mayhem recedes from the front line. It’s probably one of the most enjoyable tracks of the year, in all of its genre-ignoring glory. 

City of Plight might have been a year ahead of the curve, but being from the city that is currently on fire (literally, in many cases), Grist have obviously seen this coming, and their first real release of any magnitude holds so much more weight now. If you stand in solidarity with the gilets jaunes movement, this is a great Xmas present for yourself. If you don’t, ask yourself why exactly that is, then buy this anyway. It’ll rot your brain in the best way possible. It’ll rot your pink matter with riffs and blast beats. 

City of Plight is available now via Cold Dark Matter Records.

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The longer the note, the more dread