Maruta‘s third full length, and first with Relapse, will be the benchmark for upcoming bands in the venomous subgenre that is deathgrind. The progenitors of this group of acts in Cattle Decapitation and Cephalic Carnage have their own unique sound and are instantly recognizable from the rest of the herd; the banshee screams of Travis Ryan and whirling sax solos that fleet in and out of Cephalic’s later work can not be found elsewhere. Maruta have come a ways since their 2008 debut and, in doing so, have carved out the tightest of nichés in a genre that is both despised and adored.
An almost mechanical vibe dominates Remain Dystopian. Maruta attack their musical tools with a ferocity that brings to mind the automatons of black and white sci-fi flicks from yesteryear. More than calculated but without the coldness of steel minds, this fearsome foursome take their foot off the pedal for maybe three minutes in total. “Return To Zero” is the only track to really slither along, Maruta dropping the tempo in this track with blasts and cutting tremolo riffs still sharp enough to split atoms. Where some percussionists view blasting as a feat aligned with short distance running, Danny Morris is more at home in a marathon. Former drummer Nick Augusto (now ex-Trivium) can’t really hold a candle to this guy when it comes to just how oppressive his playing is. In the good way, obviously. He perfectly fills the gaps between his string slashing colleagues’ staccato riffing and his triplet feels are sublime. The dual guitars that spin and snap with serrated edge harmonics can get pretty hard to bare sometimes, especially in some of the shorter tracks. It’s a shame because they really scrape out the low end here. Each shrill, pinched note is so clear that it seems a bit of a waste to keep reusing the same go to techniques; twin guitars that are all too often following each other note for note, bit of a misuse of resources really.
There’s an unshakable violence that oozes out of these performances, painting the perfect, totalitarian background for a vocal display that rattles bones from their joints. Dystopian themes are a staple of grindcore, always have been and always will be; Napalm Death continue to make a pretty healthy living out of them, why shouldn’t everyone else have a shot? Mitchell Luna separates himself from the rest of the snarling, well read pack by keeping things simple. Simple does not mean basic though. There’s poetry in here that J. G. Ballard would be stoked about writing; “Standing in a pool of my own cruor. Where tears, piss, and gloom coalesce. Knee deep and immobile. I stand and watch in anguish”. Not exactly flowing, high brow prose but, when belted out of pipes with a range as drastic as Luna’s, this hits harder than a visit from George Orwell’s plagiarism lawyer. Another smart, snappy line that doesn’t need explaining, “Bodies into data. Data into profit”.
Remain Dystopian has Maruta taking a step away from their extended grind family and are all the better for it. They may call to mind more recent acts like Artificial Brain but at their core is that classic Brutal Truth aesthetic. It may have taken them a couple of gs at it but their latest is their best and by quite some distance. An addictive and endearing love letter to grind fans who would welcome an apocalypse, this is one step closer to the future of death metal and grind. Some teeth need pulled and some unsightly hairs plucked but who cares? Deathgrind will never be perfect. That’s why it’s so awesome.
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Maruta’s Remain Dystopian gets…