Ever been in a real fight? A knock-down, drag-out brawl where chairs are launched, punches are thrown, and elbows are swung? Yeah, me either. Let’s be real, when a bunch of drunk dudes decide they want to start a fight for no reason whatsoever my first reaction is typically “check, please…”. There’s a part of me that wants to get into the thick of it, though. That primal, untapped portion of my psyche that not-so-secretly desires to feel the force of a fist slamming into my jaw, and my own bone-splintering retort. But I generally like my face (and most others’ faces as well), so seeing my handsome visage brutally disfigured over a disagreement regarding whose football team is the unequivocal and absolute best seems a bit silly. Thanks to our infernal overlords that we have grindcore and death metal to give wannabe brawlers such as myself a much less painful and infinitely more enjoyable release! Expulsion is the latest death/grind band to cross my ears and allay those violent urges, and with their debut album Nightmare Future they create a violent dystopia harsh and brutal enough to slake even the most fervent extreme metal fan’s bloodlust.
Expulsion is conceived and helmed by Matt Squared (in this case Matt Harvey of Exhumed handling the wretched vocal duties with Matt Olivo from Repulsion slaying on the shred machine), with help from bassist Menno Verbaten of Lightning Swords of Death and Intronaut’s Danny Walker on drums. That’s quite the line-up. Given the pedigree of these musicians, it wouldn’t be unfair to expect a lot from their debut. Thankfully, the band deliver on this potential by unleashing seven tracks and fourteen minutes of blind aggression that are as tight and focused as you will find in either of these genres, without feeling at all stuffy or rote. This is fundamentally sound death-infused grind that is nearly impossible not to bang your head to.
The festivities kick off with “Total Human Genocide”, which sounds exactly like you’d expect a song with a title like that to sound. This is music heralding back to the old school, a form of Napalm Death and Carcass worship of the highest order, and the band sells it with skill and verve. Walker’s drums erupt at a relentless pace, and frankly don’t relent even once throughout the entirety of the record. Olivo brings the riffs in a real way here, coupling the onslaught with a Slayer-esque solo in the song’s back half that adds a classic thrash feel to the track. Subsequent banger “Altar of Slaughter” continues this furious trajectory, injecting some Swedish death riffing that feels a bit like early Entombed or At the Gates on speed. Then comes “Mask of Fear”, featuring some furious bass and hardcore drum work that quickly explodes into a death-grind beat down of epic proportions. Title track “Nightmare Future” pulls riffs directly from Lemmy’s Motorhead playbook and injects some heavy metal fun into the proceedings. But honestly, fun is not a bad way to describe this record on the whole. Within all of the brutal shredding here there is a sense of playfulness that the band exudes that makes the entire album an infectious listen. Tracks like “Funeral Bells” and “Comatose” don’t change this dynamic, bringing in neck-snapping, thrashy chug action that is some of the most simply composed, thoroughly electric, and tight riffing you are likely to hear in a grind-oriented record this year. Seriously, every track here is a certified banger. If you like the first twenty seconds of this record, you will like the rest of it. If you don’t, well… why not?
Grind is an extreme music genre that prides itself on orchestrated chaos, but sometimes stretches the definition of “orchestrated” in ways that can be a bit hard to swallow on the regular. Expulsion, however, are in the business of creating monumentally heavy and fast tunes that have clear trajectories and complete visions from start to finish. The band doesn’t just lean on the brutality of the music, but creates varied and textured songs that feel both uniform on the whole and unique individually. I really enjoyed just about every second of this record. Expulsion are pulling from some excellent metal playbooks to bring us a rich amalgam of both death metal and grindcore’s most enjoyable features. This is record is lean, mean, and heavy as hell. It’s also very well constructed and impressively performed by a group of metal veterans with a unified vision. I can find few flaws with this short sledgehammer of a record beside the fact that it is, indeed, all too brief. More of the same and soon, please. You don’t like it? Fight me. Or we can rock out together and let Nightmare Future do the fist-swinging for us.
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Nightmare Future is available now via Relapse Records.