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Evolution is the key to the continued survival of a species. The same thing can be said about music. As the population of bands playing extreme music grows steadily, there is a need to branch out from the established paths to stand out from the throng. Many bands have realised this need for innovation and as a result, we see more thinning of boundaries between styles (both within metal and outside).

This series of articles has focused on such evolution within the grindcore spectrum, and here is #3 with a few more underground acts that are taking the style forward.

the grindhouse chronicles

Gendo Ikari (Grindcore, Scotland) – Unit 1 (Mind Ripper Collective)

Gendo Ikari

Of all the solid grindcore releases we got last year (and there were quite a lot of those), the one that stuck with me the most was the debut release from Glasgow based grind act Gendo Ikari. ‘Unit 1’ came out in September last year and these guys are a grind collective that takes after some of the technically complex grind bands like Discordance Axis, Gridlink and the like. Armed to the teeth with angular riff work that aims to cause maximum destruction with accurate precision, Gendo Ikari comes across as a massive concussive force.

There is no such thing called subtlety when it comes to this record. The band dial things up to maximum right from the get go on opener Assistance and pretty much stay there for a majority of the album’s run time. Making using of quick changes to unleash more and more short, sharp riffs, the tracks seldom let loose. Aided by a rhythm section that is as manic as the quick changing guitar riffs, the music of Gendo Ikari rampages like an out of control kaiju. Even for a few moments where things do slow down (like on Categorised, Epitome and Politics), the ultra fast chaos is replaced with skull crushing groove.

It is tough to describe the pandemonium that unfolds here, considering the fact that the band achieves all this within a span of 10 minutes. The number of riffs per minute on this record is astounding. Despite the short time Gendo Ikari takes to unleash these riffs, not a single note is sloppy. In fact, the precision of it all gives this album a very complex, technical sound that perfectly assimilates with the savagery of it all. The 10 minutes of this album are ones you’ll want to experience over and over again.

RIYL: Discordance Axis, Gridlink, Mortalized

Lunatic Hooker (Sludge Metal / Grindcore, England) – Embracing the Filth (Black Bow Records)

Lunatic Hooker

I remember reading somewhere that sludge metal bands are merely hardcore punk bands that took an interest in Black Sabbath. Sometimes, the interest seems to come from grindcore bands and as a result, we have sludge grind, a sound perfected by the likes of Soilent Green, Mistress and Gaza. Continuing this tradition of marrying doomed out sludge grooves with abrasive grindcore is the London based Lunatic Hooker, who released their debut album ‘Embracing the Filth’ last year through Black Bow Records. The music lives up to the title of the record and the tone of the album is one of the dirtiest tones you’ll come across in extreme metal.

The challenge of a sludge grind record is usually with respects to balancing the bludgeoning grooves with the abrasive riffs. Lunatic Hooker’s average song lengths of 3 minutes give them enough space and time to do just this. The tracks usually take the mid-paced route, but none of the venomous spite is diluted by it. The pace actually allows for the riffs to make a lasting impact on tracks like The Pen is Mightier than The Sword, My God is Bigger Than Yours and Fucks All. The band does get to indulge in rapid grind madness as well on tracks like the title track, See the Light etc. and the sudden bursts of speed keeps the momentum intact.

The sound of Lunatic Hooker is a solid amalgamation of filthy horror, sick humour and a sense of venomous malice. The twin vocal styles spew lyrics like acid and the music feels equally as corrosive. As the ‘impossible not to headbang’ grooves provide a good breather between the riff assaults, this is an album where the length isn’t really noticeable. By incorporating trace elements of black and death metal, Lunatic Hooker’s debut is a hodgepodge of extreme metal goodness that you shouldn’t miss.

RIYL: Mistress, Soilent Green

The Heads are Zeros (Chaotic Hardcore / Grindcore, USA) – The Heads are Zeros (Self-Released)

The Heads are Zeros

Over the years, bands like Converge, Botch, Graf Orlock etc have been amplifying the chaos in hardcore punk music, so much so that we now have an offshoot style of chaotic hardcore. Much like grind bands, chaotic hardcore bands tend to push the limits of the genre in terms of sheer extremity, often involving mathcore sensibilities. The Heads are Zeros from Baltimore stand at the crossroads between grind and chaotic hardcore, appealing to the fans of both these styles. Over the years the band has been shaping their sound through a split and EP release, before finally releasing their self-titled debut full-length in April 2017.

The best way to encapsulate The Heads are Zeros’ sound is using an oxymoron: controlled chaos. Sure, the tracks on this album are not what you’d call conventional in their structure. The riffs are as dissonant as they come and keep shifting directions every few seconds. One might even succeed in representing the frequency of the shifts in the form of some complex polynomial equation. But never do the tracks feel like they’re completely flying off the rails. This becomes evident in the restrained tempos of tracks like II, IV and VII, which brings to fore the nuances in the riff work.

The Heads are Zeros are a band that do not equate speed with technicality and the tempos tend to constantly subvert the expectations of the listener. This unpredictability keeps one on his / her toes throughout the length of the track.  Every element here from the wailing guitars and screeching vocals to the technically adept rhythm section come together to create a manic, disorienting experience that place The Heads are Zeros in a league of its own.

RIYL: Cloud Rat, Fuck the Facts

FUBAR (Crust Punk / Grindcore, Netherlands) – Weltschmerz (FDA Rekotz)

FUBAR

FUBAR as a band have been around for about 15 years now and have released numerous splits, EPs and a couple of full lengths. The sound of the band can be surmised as follows: if the music of Nasum decided to procreate with the melodic crust punk of Tragedy, and the resulting offspring grew up listening to black metal. The band recently released their newest full length titled ‘Weltschmerz’ through FDA Rekotz and this record continues to solidify the band’s legacy as a grind force to be reckoned with. If you had ever wondered what a melodic grindcore album would sound like, this album delivers a close approximation of that idea.

Owing to its crusty heritage, the music is often fast and not averse to the charms of the d-beat. In fact, this uptempo attitude of the music is perfect to house the melodic edge of the riffs without compromising on the grindcore abrasiveness. FUBAR do take the occasional break from hyperfast tempo to explore some of the melodies in depth, as heard on tracks like Forsaken, Light and Dead. There is also a subtle blackened influence in the riff work as evidenced by the frequent foray into tremolos. But no matter what influence is at play, the music consistently pushes one’s adrenaline levels to the max.

‘Weltschmerz’ doesn’t change things much from the band’s previous outings. Instead, this record is more of a fine-tuning of the FUBAR’s sound as the melodic experimentations seem to work a bit better this time around. Bookended by a feedback drenched melody, this record wastes nary a second and under 30 minutes, delivers an uncompromising, unrelenting grindcore release that does not hesitate to dip its feet in melodic waters.

RIYL: Nasum, His Hero is Gone, Catheter

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Author:

Shrivatsan R Dreamer with an appetite for extreme music who probably doesn’t like you already (unless you’re a dog). Obsessed with grindcore, death metal and all things experimental. Head honcho at Metal Gallows (http://www.metalgallows.com)