Secret Cutter is one of those bands that I try to tell everyone to listen to, every time their self-titled debut comes on shuffle. I remember fondly the day I hit play on that, expecting d-beats and screeching but getting much, much more. The Bethlehem, PA natives were one of the dirtiest sounding sludge bands I’d ever heard, but they played grindcore and doom too, kinda. Neither one or the other, but something new to my sweet virgin ears. Now, a decade later, this monstrous trio are back with another full-length that will confuse and please new fans. Quantum Eraser grinds, sludges, and steals the spotlight with powerful, wild strides. Try and keep up.
Secret Cutter are fans of grind and sludge. Funnily enough. The three members of the band hold a rich melting pot of devastating and memorable influences and passions. Some of which you can read all about, as soon as I’ve dropped my two mucky cents on Quantum Eraser; a record that might have taken its time to appear but has remained miles ahead of the pack with its execution.
The record actually takes a hot minute to get into the devastating grind that some fans may have been pushing for off the bat; the wonderfully titled “Introduction” opening with a tumbling groove not unlike a Cult of Luna passage, sped up and shifted South a continent or two. The plate-shifting attack from guitarist Evan Morey and his booming low-end stabs every note with fierce conviction, picking up the pace with drummer Jared Stimpfl into an anxiety-inducing barrage that only just retreats during “4 1/2”. Here the band pulls back into the closest thing they have to an uplifting period on record. It’s almost pretty. Secret Cutter charges through every second of the record and there’s barely a moment of rest throughout. Someone of a suspicious nature might be intimidated by the sheer force that culminates in the perfect closer, “Oblivion”; the final, obliterated signals from the band are bitter and absolute.
Flow can a huge problem for any act shifting between Discordance Axis and Isis moods. Especially when short instrumental tracks are thrown into the fray. Not on this occasion though, no sir. “Vow of Obedience”, for one, shoots straight out of the end of “Transient”, delivering a punishing barrage that ties the tracks adjacent to it. It’s this progression of ideas and rhythmic attacks that binds Quantum Eraser together into a mechanically precise attack. Just one that sounds like a cyborg’s wet dream. Or nightmare. The sounds created with the guitar pummel and screech and sing with digital terror, the perfect companion to vocals that belong in the Doom 2 version of Hell.
Quantum Eraser won’t upset open-minded grind freaks and sludge heads. Quite the opposite. The direct attack of Secret Cutter’s mathy grind is actually given more power by the space opened up wall splitting dirge. This particular experiment in noise is also pretty fucking catchy. There are riffs and grooves and shifts that will stick in the mind for quite some time. Helped by a claustrophobic and crushing production (and mixing and mastering and etc), the trio sound huge; the music always leaving behind a sense of slight dread, partly with thanks to the almost subliminal bursts of static and digital feedback that permeates throughout. It’s a complete record, wholly devoid of revelry and so much the better because of it. The room filling swell of mighty sludge, the manic mayhem of weird grind, the happy listener stuck perfectly between the two.
Let’s let Secret Cutter themselves talk about some sludge and grind, etc. In the name of the mechanigrind overlord, I’ve had enough of my own voice.
As The Sun Sets – 7744
Pre-Daughters…This album really started me off in going deep in weirdo art grind bands. I’ve never heard such chaos condensed into such a small amount of time. It really spoke to my internal chaos, so to me made it made perfect sense after many tiring listens through. There’s actually order in all that chaos. It was like when I first heard Jane Doe, I actually hated it. But over time, it made more sense. It was really fun trying to figure out what they were doing. Jon’s drumming has always been a huge influence on me.
Discordance Axis – The Inalienable Dreamless
I remember Ekim showed me this album before we started Secret Cutter and it blew me away. Dave Witte will always be a huge influence. I mean, those one foot blasts are so goddamn clean and immaculate. This was before all the trigger nonsense that just turns me off of heavier stuff in this digital era. All their albums hold a special place in my heart really. Jou Jou was a tremendous analogue recording as well. So minimal, yet their performance shines through with minimal processing.
Blutch – Fra Diavolo
Easily one of my favourite sludge records. These guys just fucking kill it. So weird and tech but equally as forceful and gigantic. This fueled many listen through’s fueled by THC and a pad and paper to just try and figure out their material (as painstakingly slow as it is at points). This was my version of Sleep‘s Dopesmoker, I’d rather have had.
Black Cobra – Bestial
I love so many “sludge” bands like Cavity, EHG etc. But the one that hit me the hardest was Black Cobra. The tempo change, off-beat drumming, feedback, etc. Their style in that album was just different and so good!
Green Machine – Damn
This was probably one of the most brutal, loud, blown out, dirties albums I’d heard at that time. The riffs have such a thunderous hum. It just makes you wanna punch something!!
Enemy Soil – Ruins Of Eden
In 97/98, I was introduced to this album, and I didn’t know what was going on when the intro was playing. But then it entered into the second track with that grindy riff/feedback and famous puking scream!
Brutal Truth – Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses
I had never heard this kind of speed before. I was a fan of Nuclear Assault, and when I heard this album, I was completely blown away. The drummer is amazing, and Dan Lilker’s bass sound is beautiful as usual. The third track “Stench of Profit” is ridiculous.
Extreme Noise Terror – Peel Sessions
Politically charged, Discharge worship. Two singers and 400,000 jacket studs. This was my introduction to English crust. Calling this grind might be a stretch, but I feel the spirit of the music translates. The standout track is “Bullshit Propaganda.” They recorded this song on several releases, but this is my preferred version.