The world is full of mysterious places, cultures and grindcore. You just need to know where to look to find them (a Bandcamp search for the grindcore tag). I know fine and well that I tend to focus on the typical Western countries when covering bands on Grind My Gears, rarely dipping into the output of countries outside of the US and UK and this is not good enough. Let this year’s penultimate edition of your favourite column open your eyes, ears and other gaping orifices to a trio of gnashing, ghoulish grind units. This is my early Xmas present to you, my unloved beloved readers.
Chepang Put The “Mmm” In Immigrantcore
Starting off with one I’m sure plenty of you will have heard already. Fighting out of New York by way of Nepal, Chepang have the distinction of dropping one of the most comprehensive grind releases of 2017. DADHELO – A Tale of Wildfire is a ripping, splitting record that should sit perfectly between Maruta and Wormrot on your grind shelf. The self professed “immigrantcore” act utilise a Megazord style approach to the grind band formula with dual vocalists AND dual drummers and while they may not be the first band to be formed like this, they are easily the heaviest. Seriously. This record will give you a lemon sucking face from the opening moments to the final, devastating seconds.
There’s more crunch on DADHELO.. than a whole box of Kellog’s. I couldn’t tell you whether or not they use a bass player on record or live but regardless, who cares. Like last year’s Voices by Wormrot, Chepang have the finest production and mixing/mastering for a modern grind album. Pick any track you like, this shit is scything and cuts in a way that will definitely leave scars. Even on one of the most chaotic grind tracks I’ve heard all year, “Choila”, everything seems just in the right place for your ear to devour. The precision double drum attack makes every blast, tumbling roll or stomping groove so much depth too, so expect to see a bunch of bands trying this in the near future.
I love the chaos, ferocity and seemingly endless supply of grind riffs, twisted d-beats and panic chord attacks. There’s no way someone can listen to this LP just the once. You’d have to be a straight up shithead to pass this off. Grind bands can’t usually pull off groove and swagger even in their most frenetic moments. Chepang can. The grind politics and grind messages of the band can be identified with the English summaries of each track in the lyrics; Chepang have a lot to say and they manage to say it all by absolutely cramming their songs with drum hits and screeching guitars under hoarse declarations. The band even have time to squeeze in some traditional Nepalese sounds without feeling gimmicky or forced. “Zerstoerung” now holds the honour of being my favourite closing track of the year as well so, yeah. Big fan. Buy their shit.
Razgruha Do It Themselves For Our Benefit
Bulgaria is one of those European countries that I only knows exists because there’s always a bad guy stronghold there in 90’s action movies. That and Dimitar Berbatov’s insane hairline and immaculate first touch on the ball. Now I know one more thing about the country: Razgruha live there and they are an old school, DIY, warts and all grind band. Expect plenty of oom-pah drum beats, foreign language soundbites and roared vocals. And a song called “Petrol Drinkers”. Which is just fun.
Money Power Greed is the band’s most recent offering and it is just fucking stuffed with classic grind style. A far cry from the tailored and careful production of Chepang or Full of Hell, Razgruha instead opt for a stripped back style. Normally I want my grind to sound either rougher or much more tight, instead of the one guitar, one bass attack that these Bulgarians rip with. Not here. “Embers” two steps with lethal precision into quick shifts into blasts and stomping sections with the utmost ease, aided by the wholesome instrumentation. “Drought” follows it right away with a drum and bass intro (when was the last time you heard one of them on a grind track?!) before dipping into 90’s Napalm Death territory. The comparison to the grind overlords is just. Because I said so. There just isn’t a Barney screaming over the one two punch of riffs and beats.
I missed out on enjoying this type of grind as I admit I came into the genre off the back of more eclectic and avant garde releases, but I’m learning. It’s refreshing as fuck to hear bands rip the old sound into the new age, with the same DIY attitude that the movement spawned from in the 80’s. Unfortunately a lot of the songs on Money Power Greed have lyrics in the band’s native language so I ehh… I have no fucking idea what they’re on about. I’m sure it;s pretty topical though. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. I’ll leave Razgruha with you, closing on a powerful lyric from the aforementioned “Petrol Drinkers”:
Slund Have A Name That I Can’t Make An Interesting Heading Around
God damn. 2017 has been such a good year for extreme music and I’m already so late to the party with this next bunch. Slovenia’s Slund would have been the center piece for the sludge edition of Grind My Gears a few months ago; they could also feature prominently in articles pertaining to doom, industrial and violence, the clever cookies that they are. I know I talk a lot about grind acts that bridge the gap between genres but these guys are the bridge. It’s just a bridge made entirely of nightmares, shit and sputum. Can I get uhhh, one ticket to Slovenia please.
Seeing as I’ve touched on the production on the other two entries this week, let me start by gushing violently about the sound this band create. A grind staple is to have no bass whatsoever, or to have it dry and clanky underneath churning guitars. Not here. This is a bass tone that is engineered to carry the songs through biblical levels of apocalyptic carnage. Full blown, fire sale, end of days shit. The bass swings and dances throughout this year’s The Call Of Agony release, propping up gargantuan sludge numbers like “Disdain”; you can smell the weed smoke from your speakers when the masked vocals start to blow out through the decibel heavy delights of the staggering bass riff. Primitive Man in a knife fight with Torche behind a bar owned by Godflesh. Picture it.
The Call Of Agony boasts an industrial sound behind many of the slower numbers, moving forward through the ripping grind tracks with mechanical ease. “Sickness” sprays feedback liberally all over punk riffs and more dirty doom, pushing the limits of grind way past the comfort zone of d-beats and buzzsaws. Gloriously gritty and anthemic too, Slund are the best of both worlds. They’re not even finished yet! Releasing on Xmas day but available to listen right now, Brain Dysfunction is a short and sweet stab of auditory over exposure in EP format. The mental health subject examined with brief, bombastic offerings of filth and feedback. I can’t get enough of this stuff and though the EP is fantastic and frightening, The Call Of Agony has done it’s business and landed a spot in my fabled top 10 releases of the year. I know you love noisy music because you’re all nerds just like me. Pop the pimple on your ass cheek and type Slund into your searchbar with pus on your fingertips.
Well that’s it! Grind My Gears is basically finished for the year. All that’s left is for me to put together a wee end of year “must haves” list for anyone too lazy or too sensible to trawl through the thousands of words I have spaffed all over your screens this year. This is your last chance to send me suggestions for great grind I’ve missed this year – and I know I’ve missed a lot – and any good ones I’ll stick in with my favourites from the year. For those who argue that December is still a full month of releases that I may miss well… Fuck off. I’m going to drink myself dry through December and into January. I don’t have time to be digging through YouTube channels and Bandcamp when there are festive spirits to get opened and into. I’ll be surprised If I actually get round to making an end of year Grind My Gears post actually. Fingers crossed.