Portugal

Zombified (Review: Brutal Brain Damage, Brain Soup 2012)

Brutal Brain Damage - Brain Soup

As the saying goes there is no rest for the wicked, and what a wicked and energetic bunch Brutal Brain Damage are. Gutting the bloody entrails of grindcore in a splattering reckless mess, they proceed to chuck its entrails into their boiling pot of brutal death metal, letting it simmer and hiss itself into a fetid stew of bestial disharmony. 

Their 20 track course of pungent grinding death doesn't lack for clarity with production and mixing skills that are like to cause envy, and greatly benefiting their bloodthirsty romps into the seedy underbelly of musical extremity. Each serving track is differentiated from the last through a systematic attempt to offer something structurally different from the last, a task the band deliver with fine musical finesse; a wide range of customs that see the likes of their tightly bound churns, splinters of agitation and rabid mutilations  to name but a few, harden together into offering a conscious and reflexive delivery. 

Vocals are the brutal exterior bellowing out deathly howls and impish squeals in a truly malevolent spirit, and are the means to their zombie inspired affair, with some of the screams sending shivers down the spines. If one was to remove the layer of vocals, one will find a very intricate set of moving musical cogs, guitars and drums cohesively fluctuating between the realms of death metal and grind with able-bodied fluidity. The set up of the musical components themselves aren't too vulgar, no deep downtuning or forceful riffing favouring multiform song development and decisive riffs to engage the listener, a personally preferred method of delivery to such music which gives it a nice animated spirit, or reanimated I should say. Their final track goes all Morbid Angel - Immortal Rites on your ass, a song played entirely in reverse which ends the album in an alluringly captivating way, a paradoxical placement on the listener by making it feel so wrong and so right at the same time. 

I can't say I was a fan of the choice of samples, original for sure and a nice bit of colouring to show the band don't take themselves too seriously, but listening to a zombie fart, or a cartoonish kid being hit for wanting ice cream is more stigmatic than complimentary. However on the whole Brutal Brain Damage offer a wholesome album experience especially for those inclined to the niche. 

Vomit Your Shirt

"Death is a binding creature, a reminder of what we all have in common" (Review: Utopium/Lifedeceiver 7" 2012)

What is life? For some the pursuit of the answer is itself the answer, for others its simply an answer based on biology, faith, philosophy or same tangible mess of the three. Portugese duo Utopium and Lifedeceiver offer their own answer to the question, channeling the duality of life's frailty yet near unbound potential on a slick 7" slab of synthetic man made material. 

First up is arcadia seeking part time philosophers, full time grinders Utopium whose cleansed and reborn Phobia worship relayed through death metal fidelity imbues an unconditional fondness to their mid paced Grindcore progression. Their three tracks of pristine immersion, of which one is a desirable cover of Siege's Walls feels like a deeply orchestrated yet organic showcase between Grinds more turbulent spews and the headstrong chord crunching of death metal adhesion; all of which is interwoven tightly and amplified through very good production values. 

On the other side is bleak social nihilists Lifedeceiver, who warp a steady hardcore output with darker overtones, reminiscent of a toned down and more accessible poisonous formula employed by Black Hole of Calcutta if replaced by the malice ridden members of Swamps. Time wise they bulk up their tracks that bit more, in doing so placing a greater emphasis on the build up and eventual restrained tantrums they kick about. Of remarkable note in a non xenophobic way is how superfluous and well annunciated the English vocals are; had I not known they were Portuguese I would of been convinced he was a native speaker for sure.

Embrace Life and Utopia, or if you need any assistance embrace Lifedeceiver and Utopium. 

 

 Utopium

Life Deceiver

Back From The Dead (Review: Atentado, Paradox 2011)

     I'd never heard of Atentado when I was asked to review “Paradox”, so naturally I assumed they were some new band that I'd missed out on hearing for god-knows-what reason. However, assuming is never a good idea, and this is an example of why it will make an ass of you. Atentado, it seems, were a crust/punk band formed 20 years ago, in 1992, who seemingly played for a while as a band then disappeared without actually splitting up. Now, after 20 years of nothing happening in a band, I think it's a safe bet to say that the band has split up / moved on / died etc., but apparently Atentado have defied such logic by releasing Paradox, their first release since the “Atrofiados” demo (and their first for 20 years!). Consisting of 9 original songs and 5 re-worked songs from the Atrofiados demo, Paradox marks the bands first official release ever. And it's not a bad effort! With a classic, thick crust sound, Atentado manage to make a modern crust record that doesn't sound dated or unoriginal at all, while still paying homage to their favourite bands. While the bands earlier sound was sparse, with lo-fi recordings of varied production, they now sound very consistent with a nice, powerful sound that really emphasises how far this band have come musically from the very primitive Atrofiados demo. Although typically mid paced throughout, the drummer plays reasonably fast with occasional bursts of frenzied speed on his fills. The vocals sound as though they are being yelled and growled simultaneously, giving them a harsh quality that generally makes them sound angrier than the average band – a pissed off edge to add to the already brooding guitar/bass assault. Title track “Paradox” sounds like a melting pot of rage and misery and bitterness, thrown together and ground up into a 7 and a half minute, slow, doom-y mess of despair. There may be melodic moments on this album but don't let them fool you – this record is as pissed off as a rabid dog that cannot drink, only gaze furiously at the full water-bowl while its paralysed throat burns. Pretty angry, in other words. Songs like “Dust” and “Corrosive” burst off the plate with a corybantic energy, and my personal favourite “Dogma Destroyer” practically explodes in your face in it's rage. The level of energy contained in every single riff is unbelievable until you hear it, and it really makes you feel that you could run through a wall listening to this stuff. My only gripe is there is a little too much melody for my taste, with “Burn Hollywood Burn” being one example of a good song with too much complex guitar work making it all sound too over-done, or too complicated perhaps. This is a very small complaint though, and hey, you might even like that kind of thing, personally though for me it would have sounded better being less melodic/structured and more harsh and raw. In general though this is an extremely solid release, definitely recommended for fans of bands like Skitsystem, Anti-Cimex, and Wolfbrigade, or even if you have just a passing interest in crust/hardcore/punk, this record is worth the listen!  

Exactly What It Says On the Tin (Review: Raw Decimating Brutality, Obra Ó Diabo!!! 2011)

Ok before the review starts lets do a quick little test; If I said the name Raw Decimating Brutality gives it all away from the get go, and you proceeded to understand what I mean please continue to passage a, those still in the dark just skip a and jump to section b.

a) Come on I think the only way Raw Decimating Brutality  could of confessed more clearly their love of punishing audio trauma was if they proceeded to televise worldwide the beating of some morally bent, spineless good only for their own selfish and greed orientated agenda annoying Wall Street representative (take your pick) with well timed and focused frames of their band t-shirts and perhaps a band banner in the background (Do I smell a hint of a really cool contemporary music video idea in the works? Hmm).

The warning label name aside, Raw Decimating Brutality's play style fits in very much with the recent wave of engorging Iberian acts that tightly weave up Terrorizer/Repulsion/Early ND and pals retrogrind wholesomeness into something more fresh and melodious. The charm of it all induced through clocking up tightly framed catchy metal and punk guitar passages against an incompressible foul vocal rumble all of which benefiting from the sophisticated head banging inducing percussive militancy.

From the bottom up, the most evident loyalty to any particular framework would most certainly lean very heavily to the general approach popularised by neighbours Nashgul, but rather than dedicate an album to the reanimation of human cadavers possessed with an insatiable need for human flesh, they dedicate the album as a sniggering apology to "all the construction sites we've ravaged in our childhood", given the calibre of musical delight (in a brutal nose breaking fashion) on the behalf of the construction industry an apology is accepted providing any such ravagings did not formulate some Al-Qaeda training program.

Although lacking the same amount of kick in hell bent factor pounded out by Nashgul there is a nice assortment of groove and mid paced mosh factor which draws heavy parallels with peninsula partners Looking For An Answer. With only one occurrence of deviation being the final bonus track, which I imagine to be a throwback to the bands brutal death metal daysBut hold on a minute, go back a sentence or two did I read correctly, why yes you did as it happens this release by  a Portugese band no less combines two of Spain's greatest grind exports, in a way that would really make World Downfall era Terrorizer (or as I like to call it the gold standard Terrorizer prior to its rape) proud.

Now I won't be foolish enough  to claim that they are better than LFAA or Nashgul, because quite frankly they are not, but truth be told they are not too far off the standard set by both made surprising that this is the bands first full length release. Furthermore I have been so badly tweaking for a 2011 Nashgul fix, this 20 minute low-end tonal unrelenting howl and hisses more than suffices to feed the need,

b) Place your head in the oven and proceed to turn it on, and only once being able to recite all of Newtons laws of physics may you take your head out.

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Rum and Coke Please! (Grog, Scooping the Cranial Insides 2011)

The idyllic sun kissed nation of Portugal may not be a country one often associates with the noisy splendor of grind, beyond the gore drapped Namek and the crusted exclamations of Utopium us Anglo-Centric grind xenophobs will be hard pressed to name others. However recently fellow GTD reader and commentor Verdra has unmasked himself to me as death growl master of the veteran grind outfit Grog (of whom if my research is correct are the first grind band in Portugal) and requested I observe and annotate their latest release Scooping the Cranial Insides.

Opening with a aboriginal diabolic shamanistic ritual of fiendish and mysterious qualities as if it was a pre grind Haka to possess the listeners with troublesome spirits of death and deceit, an unsettling tone had been set before they had even touched a finger on any of their own instruments. (correction thats them too!)

Beyond the subversive augury of it all the dark little spirits jump into form, a cold yet calculated death metal form, their music is often technically minded but always skull crushingly heavy as if for a change a nameless victim was repeatedly stampeded to death from a horde of zombies first then outright ravaged. It is cold faced brutality electrified by a frequent tantalising toned down moments of technical rummaging, as if Grog had gutted Misery Index and then proceeded to parade its familiar yet mauled carcass around occasionally to the guitar twang of a Slayerised riff injection. 

It is a release that is aware of its own limitation, it knows it can't go toe to toe with the swish ultra guitar wanking that currently dominates the tech death metal corner of darkness which quite frankly bores me, it additionally knows it cant out brutalise some of the neck snapping ferocity by others, and thus it nestles itself between the two, pinning down the occasional grind frantic feeding frenzy as a staple of their formula, proceeding to merge all three into one repulsive musical ogre.

Grog knows how to play the game right, maybe thats the seniority card earnt through two decades of grinding, maybe its talent or perhaps both, either way their formula works, they kept the technicality as a minimalist wave which constantly reappears and disappears without displacing the hard hitting kicks of brutal death metal and the grind tremors. In the end its just one endless flow of brutality that frequently likes to show off its other talents akin to Godzilla moonwalking whilst destroying down town Tokyo, Carnage executed with style. A winning formula to say the least.