01. Bye Bye Baby
03. Strangled Beings And Vice Versa
04. Can Of Awesometism
05. Shooting At Apparitions
06. En Route To Meat Land
07. Used Food
08. The Shit Waltz
09. Damaged (p)Inc
10. Dirty Black Cloud
11. No Structure, Total Violence
12. Ugly Cat
13. Lust In Creation’s Wake
14. They Thought We’d Forget
15. Save The Magic For Tomorrow
16. Vulture Assassin
17. Send Me To Satan
[Black Market Activities]
Grindcore has been unfortunately distant this year. A lot of the scene’s prominent players released new albums last year and other than Napalm Death and the upcoming album from Pig Destroyer, it’s a little thin on the ground. Thankfully though, these times of drought allow us to scramble in the dirt for the best the underground has to offer, with the most recent contender being Black Market Activities’ newest addition Hivesmasher.
This Massachusetts five-piece pedal a style of grind that is surprisingly reminiscent of those two aforementioned acts, especially the latter, with Gutter Choir being the frantic sound of techy grind meeting punk’s reckless abandon head on. In short, it’s a glorious mess. Tracks like ‘No Structure, Total Violence‘ and the 30 second ‘Ugly Cat‘ stutter and twitch uncontrollably before finding their feet and plowing through the thrashy Slayer-isms that have defined Pig Destroyer’s most recent work Loathsome. All the references are not to suggest that this band is simply an homage to them, it’s a good way of describing the template, but Hivesmasher’s personal quirks do enough to separate them. Take, for instance, the winding fretboard abuse of the brilliantly titled ‘The Shit Waltz‘ or ‘They Thought We’d Forget‘, in which both bring to mind bands like Maruta more than anything else, or even the penultimate track ‘Vulture Assassins‘ which manages to muscle in a surprisingly searing guitar solo and some symphonic keyboards into the mix.
In fact, the keyboards and samples make a great addition to their sound. Whether it be a subtle hiss and whine, as found in ‘Can Of Awesometism‘, or the inclusion of all manner of samples, it adds another layer to the sound rather than just cluttering it. While the samples may come across as gimmicky to those who have always held derision for them, for someone who is already fond of their use they’re varied, utilised well and help make well defined breaks between tracks where they may have bled into each other. On the other hand, the fourty minute ambient closing piece (yes, seriously) seems a little unnecessary and the inclusion of the ‘mass hysteria’ speech from Ghostbusters does border on comical.
Wrapping it all together is a production whose mindset follows that legendary work of Kurt Ballou, in that every note and hit cuts through and is clear as day, but it still manages to retain a dirty and raw feel. The closest bedfellow would be probably that of labelmates Gaza‘s newest release No Absolutes In Human Suffering — both albums could never be accused of sounding sterile but at the same time they manage to sound explosive and warm without regressing to the realms of ‘shitty bedroom recording’.
At the heart of it though, Gutter Choir is a grind album for grind fans. Fan service, if you will. A meandering, maniacal bruiser that never holds back and isn’t afraid to toe the line of acceptability and push themselves. But most of all, Gutter Choir is the sound of a promising band with a future ahead of themselves if they can keep up this pace. It may be a drought but the rainy season starts with Gutter Choir and it’s going to be a hell of a storm.
Hivesmasher – Gutter Choir gets…