In the space of two demos and a self-titled album, New York’s short lived Atakke seemed to have mastered the art of crust-laden thrash, which made it all the more upsetting when the band bowed out shortly after finishing their Phillip Cope (Kylesa) produced full-length. But every cloud has its silver lining, and lo and behold, most of the band (minus axe-man Sam Awry and vocalist Chloe Puke) have reconvened under the name Trenchgrinder, and whilst traces of the Atakke sound are still present, this is a significantly different beast from its predecessor.
War has been a popular topic throughout metal’s history, from Black Sabbath’s eponymous ‘War Pigs’ to Slayer’s ode to wartime atrocities with ‘Angel Of Death’, and Trenchgrinder fit quite neatly into this long-standing tradition with some dark and thought-provoking lyrics concerning mankind’s relationship with death, destruction, and other typically cheery subject matter. Musically, Trenchgrinder take their cues from Bolt Thrower (who are obviously no strangers to the whole war theme either) with opener ‘The Hunt’ bringing to mind the classic, churning grooves of that band’s ‘War Master’ album. Indeed, if you’d been told that Bolt Thrower had broken their recording hiatus and fooled into thinking that ‘Rapture Of Time’ was a track from their forthcoming album, it’s really only Owen Rundquist’s higher, croakier vocals that would eventually give the game away. Despite not being especially prominent, Owen does a fine job here, snarling his way across the demo with confidence and venom aplenty.
The 9 minute duration of two-parter ‘Destroyer Unmaker / Waking Terror’ is a tad ambitious, but these guys have enough great riffs to pull it off, and never seem to lose momentum even in their more mid-paced sections (the slow, creeping riff just after the intro is one of the demo’s most deliciously evil sounding moments) . Closer ‘War To Wage’ is a total monster of a song and a clear statement of intent; Trenchgrinder are pulling no punches and taking no prisoners with this release! The production may not be the clearest, but who cares when it’s this thick and filthy? The bass tone especially is fantastic, sounding like an enraged warthog rustling through the remaining shrubbery of a barren warzone, and the guitars have a nice meaty quality to them.
It’s great to hear these guys jamming again, and even more so when they’re producing material of such a consistent quality. This is an extremely promising demo, and bodes well for the future - a full-length of this stuff would totally hit the spot. Heartbroken Atakke fans and Bolt Thrower enthusiasts should get on this pronto!