Japan

Up Shit Creek (Review: Bathtub Shitter, Dance Hall Grind 2005)

I’ve been accused of vulgarity. I say that’s bullshit.
— Mel Brookes

Bathtub Shitter - Dance Hall Grind

Potty mouthed fecally obsessed / contaminated Japanese loony groove grinders Bathtub Shitter are one of grinds more off the rails derivatives, surfacing in one of those many love or loathe sub-sub-genre splinters that fissure as emblematic themes become the very heart and soul of their realigned blast beat process. All things considered Bathtubshitter are alone in their poop-grinding autonomy, we have the Poopy Butts who are kin in name, but have to use different genre bathroom stalls. 

The thing is Dance Hall Grind's  lyrics don't really go any deeper than your shit sifting corprophilia with maybe the exception of the odd swaperoo having them replace their various scatalogical nonsense for equally tripe piss nonsense, and  as for the bands lyrical presentation it is solely tongue in (arse) cheek. Tracks are exceptionally vocal and in that sense a lot of shit is thrown around, however their trademark vocal idiosyncrasy is one of their strengths pluralising crow like sqwuaks with gruff blusters and everything in-between; all presented in almost comical yet hooking fashion.

If we can proverbially wipe the shit off the shoe (ok I promise to stop all these shitty wordplays) Bathtub Shitter offer an equally radical musical projection. It comes off as a loose knit renegade association of sludge, thrash, groove and grind all swung back and forth with great elasticity and spiked with colourful tints of  random melodic vagrancies. The band handle lengthy exploits with a great deal of tact, keeping their songs wholly engaging and never failing to continually surprise the listener, even 7 minute wanderer Rest in Piss keeps things upbeat and fresh, whilst a tidy cover of DRI's Time Out showcases the bands corruptive process in all its gutter majesty. The bands musical abilities are in no means in dispute, even if those frolicking rhythmic thrash perversions aren't to taste the skill and creativity utilised are clearly present. 

Its a classic case of never judge a book by its cover, even if the book is deliberately covered in its authors excrement , because if you can overlook Bathtub Shitters excremental obsession you will find a highly energetic iconoclastic band who know how to groove just as well as they thrash and more importantly write long grind songs that don't feel dragged out or counter-intuitive , there really is nothing like them. I also think it no coincidence that a label called Rip Roaring Shit Storm have re-released this bad boy! 

Purchase 

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Unholy Alliance (Review: Unholy grave / Nak'ay, 2012)

 The popularity of the 5" format is starting to get quite a bit of a pain in the ass and on the wallet too (I am looking at you specifically Suffering Mind!) , by the time you have put the material on and sat yourself down its time to turn it over and lets not even get started on its cost to effect ratio, in short the novelty value of being a 5" wears out thin and you either have to offer some extra dimensional incentive (that Noothgrush / Supression 5" that comes with a puzzle is the sort of out the box creativity I like) or have to be sure as hell that the ~2 minute run time available is enough for the bands to induce traumatic injury on the listener. Thankfully the Unholy Grave Nak'ay split is one positive example where this scaled down format of operation isn't of detriment by its lack of available length, to both bands concepts such as progression and rhythmic development are words used by people whose skulls they crack open with their stone axes. 

First up is Unholy Grave who grace us with an exclusive track; Intolerance to which it should come as no surprise its delivery is nothing short of their trademark erratic thrash tinged mincecore , mad hatter Takaho does his usual deployment of lunatic/animalistic screams in accompany with their standard set of  booming blast beats and catchy as hell bouncing stringwork. Production values are in their natural habitat of DIY recordings, but have substantially more rigor and density to them compared to their last record I checked out. However the best feature of this track has to be the chorus, its lyrics solely consisting of the word No said repetitively about a dozen times in a sort of rythmic fashion, its strangely addictive and I can't really justify why, yet I find myself singing along to it with much joy and often put the needle back to the beginning rather than turn over the split just to have another cheeky listen. A seriously addictive tune. 

There will be a point in time when it will likely be easier to list the bands which haven't done a split with Unholy Grave than the ones which have, at such a time bands will simply be referred to by a number denoting their place in the Unholy Grave split chronology; to which todays review features number 81: Nak'ay (that's right, I manually counted every prior split release Unholy Grave have listed on discogs). If the name Nak'ay is a reference to something (thinking something Japanese, maybe even Unholy Grave related) the reference has got past me; either as a result of the obscurity of the name or the fact that Nak'ay's 2 minutes of mayhem is like receiving a series of blows to the head from a tire iron from a rather unsavory set of gentlemen. I don't want to paint them as a legacy band, but if you believe in reincarnation then Nak'ay are the second coming of the recently deceased Cellgraft, the timelines don't quite match up, but I am ashamed to say that this is the first time I have heard them and they occupy that exact same niche of barbaric hostility once occupied by Cellgraft. They manage to squeeze no less than 5 tracks into their armoury including one savage cover of Assucks Feasts of War. Their 2 minute curb-stomping tantrum is a crash course into urban warfare, as a blitz of concrete tearing thuds, agonizing screams and piercing screeches all mangle against one another and induce irreversible psychological trauma, and dare I say it that Nak'ay just thrive off this bloodshed and carnage as if caught in some all consuming desire to destroy.

Everydayhate

Unholy Grave / Nak'ay

Raw Grind Chaos (Review: Unholy Grave/ Hatred Division 2012)

I think Henry Rollins summarized what being punk is quite nicely when he advocated it as hippies with a fierce attitude; a culture of protest, ethics and social consciousness:  a dualism of music and message which in the weird and wonderful world of 2012 is only held up by a few depraved under belly of punk derivatives, none more so than the grind is protest-ers  of mincecore. Sharing seven inches of wax and brooding dissent by way of spartan means of lo-fi feral vulgarity is old school blast masters Unholy Grave and grindcore underdogs of the third world Hatred Division, but before I put this 7" wonder under the cutting board I have a protest of my own to champion. And that protest being that they should  of kept the alternate artwork as per the test prints (have a looksie and the other side), sure it looks like something torn straight out of Conan the Barbarian novel and lacking in punk aesthetic, but killing orcs and in true homo-erotic power metal fashion never gets tiresome and would do much to bring a bit of color and character to the visually predictable depictions of woe and wrong; surprise in this instance being a good thing especially when trying to distinguish this unholy grave release against several hundred others.

Jumping back to the core issue: the actual content, this release is as ripe as they get, hooking you tightly right from the get go and systematically churning out one squalid track of socially embittered fury after another, little wonder it so quickly needed a repress to which they  addressed the visual photocopier bore with a nice cheery shade of blood red on both print and wax. 

 First up is Unholy Grave, who ever true to form blurt out their logic defying twirls of old-school grindcore entertainment in complete excess: their standard madman howls, riveting angular riffs and tremoring blasts, all lifted straight from a rehearsal recording giving in that coarse edge the band thrive off, although this time it is noticeably more raw than other Unholy Grave material, but not in the burly dense way but rather feels consistently flimsy. Even so the tracks are joyfully grindful and extract from the listener a sort of light hearted energy which idealistically peaks exactly at the end of their side.  The band tightly in their comfort zone of short excursions of zero post production tape recorder type old school obliteration. 

Now what follows is crafty in a coincidental sort of way that really gives the unique charm of the release, in that whilst still fresh in our mind all the things we wanted from the Unholy Grave side from nudges in production values and a deeper sound are now presented in Unholy Grave gold standard, except its not Unholy Grave, but Malaysias purveyor of all things bitter Hatred Division. Its one of those surreal wish comes true - lets double check that - holy shit I can bend the universe to my will moments, to which my review has probably ruined the surprise for you if you haven't checked the release out already. Even by the time this unintended novelty value wears thin, the stranglehold Hatred Division on you doesn't, from the strength of this release alone the band are steam rolling themselves to be the next Sakatat. 

Perhaps redundant, but I can only describe them as being the best choice cuts of Unholy Grave type band, the only real differences I can take from this 5 minute wonder ride of old school purity is that their temperament is slightly less on the crazy end and slightly more so on the aggressive end, a bantam shift, which really does nothing to detach themselves from the tit of Unholy Graves grinding milk. So expect a parade of blasts, ungodly growls and grumbles all conjoined by some intense and hooking string work in the most flattering of  ways, that can sit alongside Archagathus Mincecore Demo, Sakatats half of Cut your throat split and Unholy Graves half of their Rotten Sound split in Alex's wall of perfect Mincecore releases. 

Rioutous Outburst / Grindfather Productions / Tombs In the Valley / FastDie / Extreme Terror  Production / Douchebag Records

Reconstruction of Grind (Review: Self Deconstruction, ST 2011)

People often note and remark the seemingly inhuman stamina and unrelenting skills that athletes possess, with people often hypothesising that with choice pairing and selective breeding a super race of humans can be established. That being said I think certain areas of grind have developed in such a fashion that not only is the remarkable dexterity employed by such musicians bordering entirely on a physical limitation as a species, the simultaneous need for the mind to process, create and unravel this complex and rapid succession of riffs and blasts employed by the more tech orientated acts is doubly taxing and pushing the human body to new limits both artistically and physically.

Not quite the genre leader  of technical and speed overload grindcore aka the Gridlink approach, but one to keep a keen eye on and a band befitting a place in my breeding program featuring the more nimble and creative musicians that a few generations down the line I would of created a subspecies of man quite literally built for grind, would be the proactive singularity that is Self Deconstruction.

You only have to consider the made in Japan stamp to know that one of if not both these statements will hold true

a) The band are incredibly amazing.

b) The band are incredibly unique.

Self Deconstruction would amply satisfy both statement a and statement b on the strength of their 4 minute 48 second self-titled demo, which as a release is as charming as it is quizzical, leaning to more creative and out the box strategies in handling the balance between technicality and denseness of sound, whilst still maintaining that pivotal grindcore feel to the release.

It’s certainly one of the freer and liberal approaches to grind, drawing a number of methodological parallels with Discordance Axis and Swarrrm, but ultimately in content and delivery being very much its own creature. The elements of empowerment rest heavily on the contrast in the technical complexities offset against the frantic expressive vocal wandering. With the exception of the opening track there is a noticeable lack of blastbeats, yet that neither detriments the release nor disqualifies it’s grindcore credentials, the drums being yet another interconnected layer in the technical fold, bringing more diversity to the table and being the kick factor by annunciating the more profound clinch moments.  

The string work would be the sort to give Matsubara a run for his money, being that rich blend of clean, profound and catchy, often jolted in quick succession and sometimes dragging notes out to rein in the tension, always retaining a free spirited vibe and unorthodoxy that accounts for much of the releases charm. Vocals being a presentation between two distinct types of lyrical screaming, the unexpected alternation and development between the two adding a nice fractal pattern to the release.

As demos go I don’t think they can get more promising than this, the band not only showcase a great and fresh take on the grindcore blueprint, they show off an exceptional amount of skill and potential too, they need only carry on what they currently offer and they will be rapidly infecting our playlists, the mere thought of actually improving on what they have already offered is making my head spin. 

Merzuary (Review: ACTUARY/Merzbow, Freak Hallucinations 2012)

ACTUARY / MERZBOW - Freak Hallucination

Now this bastard gave me a static electric shock whilst taking it out of the sleeve almost causing me to drop it in the process, at first I thought nothing of it, but in retrospect it may have been a physical "pulse demon" sent by Merzbow to transpose his noise magnifica outside the sound spectrum.

I have no clue how Masami Akita makes such elaborately jagged meanders of noise, for all I can tell he could just be changing any non-musical files file extension to an mp3 and pass it off as custom made mangle of noise; an unlikely scenario, but one that could go a long way into explaining how the man is so proficient at creating the largest discography known to man. Well whatever the method behind his madness it pays off, because no one intensifies the noise experience like he does.   

His half is a continuous arch of distortion taloned by a perplexing mass of acute logarithmic hisses and digital scathes, as if being plugged into a lengthy cycle of the matrix, complete with the binary manifestations of an embellished soundscape that exits beyond the restraints of understanding as provided for by the mind, leaving the listener equally perplexed and awed with its seemingly alien construction. As we have come to expect from Merzbow, the music (and I use the term loosely) is not designed with the express idea of belonging to any specific form or to appease the listener, it’s purely a complete experiment in pushing the boundaries of mankind’s command of sound and as such appeals to those of inquisitive mind sets for whom satisfaction is not derived directly from the listening, but in the attempt to unravel its inner workings and abstract meanings of this enigma of digital manipulation. Ultimately it is an endless task with no conclusion, yet a realisation that fails to shake the determination of the listener from repeating the process in the hopes of being that one step closer to the answer. Such is the beauty of Merzbow. 

For those of you who have stuck around Grind to Death long enough you will well know my intense infatuation with demiurgic noise engineers ACTUARY, yet each and every explanation I give of the band vary from the last. This is not a blunder on my part, but a testament to their explorative nature both thematically and in their handling of both the analogue and digital sources of their noise crafting; very befitting that their band logo is that of a hydra, because much like the hydra there are many faces to ACTUARY.

ACTUARY’s side for Freak Hallucinations is one that could be identified as befitting a psychological horror film, a more abrasive and unsettling noise counterpart to Mike Stitches Frankenstein grind works. Throughout the release a constant stain of mind is placed through a slithering eeriness at first accompanied by a disconcerting vocal dialogue between an impish squawking and a more blood curdling diabolic monstrosity, but as the release progresses the experience becomes more intense placing a greater emphasis on rugged noise afflictions who bring the intimidating vibe of the release to the forefront, given more effect by the sprawling shimmers of disorientation. From there a minimalist drone is played, a moment of relative calm amongst a sea of horrors, yet as it unravels it becomes increasingly more sinister with distorted screams and proclamations being bastardised in the haze of the dark noise, amongst a bed of sound snakes, snapping screeches and abstruse contortions all of which bite from beyond the bleak haze of the sonic veil.

And our journey ends there.

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ACTUARY

Merzbow