Don’t feel bad if you don’t recognize the Gadget name despite their status as grindcore veterans; the group have existed on-and-off for two decades in more than one iteration and haven’t released a full-length in ten years. For all intents and purposes, Gadget’s third full-length The Great Destroyer acts as an introduction to the Swedes’ thick and chaotic turn at grind for a new generation of fans. With their newfound spotlight and label Relapse Records’ ever expanding reach, Gadget have got a lot to prove; bands often don’t get a second chance at first impressions, and The Great Destroyer makes a solid case for Gadget as a band to watch.
All things considered, The Great Destroyer doesn’t stray all that far from what one would expect from a grindcore record in 2016. In fact, throughout the record, Gadget establishes a playbook that paints them as a jack of all trades. The mean formula the band relies upon for the meat of the album leans closer towards the punk and hardcore end of the spectrum of grind, with songs coming and going in rapid succession. The production is spot-on as far as what the band wish to accomplish; finer details in the string instruments are lost in the chaos behind the forefront of barks and blasts, contributing to the mix with a chaotic presence without sounding too murky. Grind has never been about absolute clarity, anyway.
On tracks like “Lack of Humanity” and “Down and Out“, Gadget shine bright as a band worthy of carrying the torch left by country-mates Nasum. At times, the band emulates Napalm Death‘s breed of deathgrind in their heavier moments, particularly on the pre-release track “Violent Hours (For A Veiled Awakening), which features a guest spot by Barney Greenway himself. The band does well to provide a bit diversity and minute changes in tone and texture to foster a sense of individuality among tracks. “Dedication“, one of the longer tracks at a 2:20 runtime, spends its protracted space wisely by dropping into the album’s only true breakdown. The title track allows an atmospheric dynamic to come into play, topped off with an over-the-top shred solo, also the only of its kind within the album’s confines. “In The Name Of Suffering” drops the tempo into sludgier grooves for its brief presence, as well. These minor nuances aren’t overly relied-upon gimmicks, but strategically saved and scattered throughout the record in order to provide listeners with a second wind from the usual block of madness.
The band’s crowning achievement on The Great Destroyer is saved for the album’s final track, the five-and-a-half minute “I Don’t Need You / Dead and Gone.” Beginning in a flurry of Gorguts-gone-grind chord work, the band pummels through some of their most vicious moments before a tense and explosive dirge of doom riffs and interwoven feedbacking leads that provide the record with the most satisfying conclusion. It’s almost as if this is the track that should have bore the album’s title, as it shows the band content with laying everything they’ve built in the last half hour to ruin.
The Great Destroyer does ultimately play the game relatively safe; there’s some truly wild grindcore out there, with WAKE being a recent example. Even still, the record is expertly crafted, and there’s nothing at all damning in what Gadget have been able to accomplish. The Great Destroyer is an aptly titled entry to the contemporary grind scene that will hopefully do its justice as the record that finally launches Gadget into mainstay status. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another decade for more destruction.