Pig Destroyer. What’s not to say about them? After a rocky debut LP with Explosions in Ward 6, these guys put out three of the most celebrated grindcore LPs in history: the beautifully grotesque Prowler in the Yard, Terrifyer, and Phantom Limb. These three LPs are nothing short of absolute genius, pushing the grindcore envelope damn far. These guys arguably innovated the genre more than anyone before or since, even compared to legends like Napalm Death and Terrorizer. However, in 2012, they released Book Burner which, while met with praise from critics and fans alike, I found not to my liking at all. Pig Destroyer tried being more groovy and incorporating breakdowns, but it’s a mostly forgettable showing--a shame, knowing how incredible the previous three efforts were. In between then and now, though, the guys incorporated a bassist, which had me very excited for some beefed-up groove work. But all three of the singles leading up to Head Cage left me feeling…weird. My reactions weren’t entirely negative, but I didn’t really know how to feel. It was clear Pig Destroyer were going for a more metalcore approach, which I think is a highly commendable switch to attempt so late in a career, but I knew I needed to hear the rest of the LP to form a proper opinion.
One thing that needs to be said right off the bat is that this is NOT a typical Pig Destroyer record. There is very little that resembles their previous records past the first two tracks. “Tunnel Under the Tracks” is a typical noisy Pig Destroyer intro, featuring the Gold Room masquerade music from Stanley Kubrick’s classic The Shining (Contrary to MetalSucks’ claim that it’s the Monolith theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey,) leading into the grindy “Dark Train.” A great way to start off the LP for sure, but also where the familiar Pig Destroyer cuts off. This change was notable during the singles, so it was safe to assume that they were going to continue in this new direction. Luckily, this allows the singles to sound more comfortable in the context of the rest of the LP. Pig Destroyer’s groove elements were definitely a work-in-progress on Book Burner, but they've sharpened up on this record. “Army of Cops” is such a groovy track. The ending gets a bit awkward, as if JR didn’t really know how to match his lyrics up to the track rhythms, but the song feels more natural overall in context. “The Torture Fields” starts off with some sick blast beats and straight into some rhythmic madness. I just wish the outro was a little more inspired.
That’s the biggest problem Pig Destroyer has instrumentally right now: they don’t know how to end. Most of these songs are filled with interesting material, especially with the addition of John Jarvis on bass, but the outros are almost uniformly boring, like Pig Destroyer searched “how to write a groovy outro” and went with the most generic options. That said, the punky “Mt. Skull” is a relatively technical song with a super tasty final breakdown, indicating that Pig Destroyer aren't totally out of ideas on that front.
J.R. Hayes is as dynamic a vocalist as he’s ever been. His typical style on Head Cage consists of gritty, punkish screams, interspersed with some growls on “Terminal Itch,” and the minor pitch variations on “Trap Door Man” and “Concrete Beast.” his range isn't as insane as it was back in the day, but it’s a good reminder that J.R. remains a commanding vocalist. The downside, however, is the lyrical content, which is where things really hurt. J.R. is renowned for his morbid poetry, some of the best lyrics in the genre, so to read these groaned is a special kind of disappointment. Admittedly, they can be quite catchy, like the lyrics on “Army of Cops,” but they are repetitive and fashioned around the groove, and can't survive without the music. The worst example I can point you to is “The Adventures of of Jason and J.R.,” which is just embarrassing. This song is supposed to be a ridiculous story about running from the feds, but it's a cringeworthy kind of humor that makes the track an uncomfortable listen. It's a letdown from the man who wrote “Starbelly,” “Forgotten Child,” and “Natasha.”
Luckily, the best of Head Cage is saved for the last two tracks, which will go down as highlights of Pig Destroyer’s career. “The Last Song” is the most ambitious song on Head Cage, starting off with a mean-ass bass lick and some crazy noise supplied by Blake Harrison (who I feel is kind of underutilized on this LP) before launching into a nasty, punk-edged ripper. The lyrics vibe like earlier Pig Destroyer and see J.R. experimenting with his voice a little, too. The finale, “House of Snakes,” opens up with an 80s heavy metal-style riff that pays homage to acts like Judas Priest and Metallica before dropping some nasty sludge metal. The lyrics on pretty poetic as well, so it’s clear that J.R. still has the chops. I wish he would’ve used them more often this time around. It’s an incredible closer, and leaves me relatively hopeful for Pig Destroyer’s new direction.
Pig Destroyer has always had some trouble releasing things in a reasonable time-frame. It’s hard to justify the six years between Book Burner and this, especially when it's so choppy in places. However, it does show some creative strides, which is admirable in such a veteran act. If you are disappointed in Pig Destroyer for straying from their grindcore roots, enter Head Cage with open ears and accept it for what it is: a fun, groovy metalcore LP.
VERDICT: Pig Destroyer’s sonic change has its issues, but that doesn’t stop it from being a fun 30-minute listen.
Lorna Shore - This Is Hell
New Jersey deathcore band Lorna Shore has been in the headlines frequently the past few months after some lineup changes and Lil Uzi Vert was caught moshing to their catalog at a show in Philadelphia a few months ago. Upon Tom Barber’s departure from the band, we learned through the grapevine that CJ Mccreery (ex-Signs of the Swarm) had taken over his position. Skepticism had gotten the best of me, and I assumed that CJ was ditching the slamming-core sound he was known for to jump into the blackened-core sound Lorna Shore perfected on their last record, Flesh Coffin.
“This Is Hell” not only silenced my worries in almost every aspect but also blew me away. I was greeted immediately by everything I fell in love with previously,with the elements of Signs of the Swarm I had fallen in love with over the course of their two records splashed in. You can tell that Lorna’s focus was to maintain the darker Flesh Coffin style while adding some more slam-influenced breakdowns to compliment the addition of CJ’s vocals, as they are drastically more intense than what Barber brought to the table. Standouts consist of both De Micco and Deffley’s abilities to create some of what I consider the best riffs in deathcore. Archey is still an absolute monster behind his drum kit, providing machine-gun blast beats that could kill everything within a two mile radius. I cannot believe the synergy of this band, who have achieved almost god-tier standing in my eyes.
If there is one complaint to be made about the new track, it’s that as of now, it is a standalone song to listen to until they make their way into the studio to record their first proper full-length with Mccreery on vocals. If you were worried that Lorna Shore was going to slow down, you were wrong. They are coming for you. “This Is Hell,” literally.
Stream and buy the LP here.
Thou are a five-piece doom metal band who have been recognized as one of the few remaining metal bands to really live off the original DIY-punk ethos. This is shown in various forms, from all their splits to adding shows on tours that allow younger fans to see them if the other show in their city is age-restricted. Sonically, however, these guys are about as agonizingly heavy as doom can get. It’s filled with a dense atmosphere of dread and gut-wrenching screamed vocals. It’s been about four years since their last LP Heathen, which was one of my favorite metal LPs of that year, and Thou decided to do the unthinkable: release three 30+ minute EPs over the course of three months. Each of these three EPs showcase a different side of Thou. The House Primordial was a droned-out mix of sludge and harsh noise. Inconsolable saw Thou take on dark-folk, and the last of the EPs, Rhea Sylvia, was a bit of a “return to form” for Thou. With these three EPs out, Thou decided to take the extra step and release Magus.
If there’s one thing that lets you know this is a Thou record, it’s how absolutely punishing it is. It’s crazy to imagine that, on top of releasing music in this vein for well over a decade, they’ve released 90+ minutes of music within the three months leading to this LP, and yet they still come through with a 75-minute monster that feels as fresh as ever in both sound and atmosphere. The opening riff to “Inward” welcomes you into Magus’ house of suffering, a 10-minute opener that lets you know that it’s not going to stop. You will find moments of beauty subtly woven into the brooding doom assault, as well as t tracks like “Sovereign Self” and “In the Kingdom of Meaning,” which feature some of the most elegant clean vocals I’ve heard in this genre. Provided by Emily McWilliams, they perfectly contrast the Bryan Funck’s hellish screeches who sounds, more than ever, like his suffering is absolutely unbearable.
Check out lyrics like “The one locked in the carapace of frustration and loathing,” and the transparent vitriol of a line like “We’ve got nothing but hatred.” Alongside these lyrics of absolute despair is the occasional silver lining to these dark, noisy clouds, such as “To breathe life into the organ of hope...” We also see Thou take on some topics of social relevance, such as on “Transcending Dualities,” which tackles gender dysphoria - sometimes bluntly, with one lyric reading “Our gender is disorder.” The song goes through a journey of “limitless choice.” “Elimination Rhetoric” deals with fighting the patriarchy: “Awake, awake from the misogyny-fueled fever dream...” It’s beautiful that amid Thou’s existential dread, we can still encounter tracks with a very strong message about deconstructing toxic societal norms.
The three EPs Thou released prior to this bleed into Magus in one form or another. Rhea Sylvia pretty much lays out the blueprint of Thou’s sound, showing us the doomy, heavy, nihilistic band of their last four LPs. While the cleaner vocals have been a part of Thou’s discography for some time, much of the melodies they provide, as well as the acoustic sections spread across the LP on tracks like “Sovereign Self,” sound as if they were ripped straight from Inconsolable. The three “interlude” tracks, “My Brother Caliban,” “Divine Will,” and “The Law Which Compels,” reproduce the dark, droney, noisy sounds we heard last on The House Primordial. The best elements of each EPs are here in top punishing form.
As much as I dug Heathen, and despite Thou’s knack for hypnotic guitarwork, I felt like there were moments where it ran a bit dry during it’s 75-minute run. While there surely are moments of Magus that could have probably used a bit more going on in the instrumental, specifically on “Greater Invocation of Disgust,” this LP’s is more consistent and better-paced over the course of its runtime. Even “Greater Invocation of Disgust” is pretty decent in itself, its only issue that it does nothing out of the norm for Thou, and that it’s followed by the standout “Elimination Rhetoric.”
All of this leads up to the grand finale of the LP: the 11-minute epic “Supremacy.” “The Law Which Compels” builds up to itsa melancholic onslaught of doom. Lyricall, it’s a bit ironic: while it does address the idea of becoming larger than life, it’s more interested in exploring the downsides of such a mentality. It ends the LP with the phrase “Remain alone” for a reason: victory isolates us. Through all the pain and suffering, victory only leads to a different kind of pain, a point shoved in our faces as we reach the outro of this track which progressively gets noisier and heavier, leaving us with a reminder that this dread is not going to leave anytime soon. Thou won’t let it.
VERDICT: Thou show us triumph in depression and vice versa on their latest 75-minute colossus. Magus is a must-listen for fans who fancy doom and gloom in their music.
YO WHAT’S GUCCI JOHN BELUSHI? IT’S BEEN A MINUTE SINCE I’VE DONE ONE OF THESE BECAUSE TBH I FEEL LIKE ITS BEEN PRETTY QUIET ON HERE SAVE FOR LIKE THE 3 RANDOM SINGLE WORD NAME METALCORE BAND REVIEWS CESAR’S DONE AND THE OCCASIONAL DECIMAL RATED DEATHCORE-ADJACENT THINGS THE KID WHO OWNS THIS WEBSITE DOES
LMAO YO WHEN’S ALEX COMING THRU WITH MORE FIRE TAKES PLEASE DO REVIEWS WHERE YOU’RE NOT ON THE TOILET DAWG IT’S KIND OF WEIRD I KNOW NEW YORKERS DON’T GIVE A FIZZUCK ABOUT ANYTHING BUT THE REST OF US ARE AWKWARD SUBURBAN KIDS WHO WERE RAISED CATHOLIC SO WE’RE PRETTY TERRIFIED OF BODILY FUNCTIONS. WE NEED YOUR GUIDANCE OR THE SITE FINNA GO THE WAY OF ONE DIRECTION (READ: 5 DIRECTIONS LMAOOOOOO)
(DAKOTA, CESAR, ALEX, BRIAN, AND OTHER THE ALEX., THE WHITE GUY)
I FIGURED SINCE IT’S BEEN A MINUTE I’LL JUST HIT YOU GUYS WITH A “WHAT’S BEEN ON MY RADAR FOR THIS YEAR” THING BECAUSE IDK ITS 3/4th OF THE WAY OVER AND I ONLY GOT SO MANY JOKES TO SPIT ON YOU. YO LMAO THIS IS THE QUICKEST I’VE EVER GOTTEN TO THE ACTUAL ARTICLE IN MY HISTORY AS A GUEST WRITER WHO WRITES FOR THIS WEBSITE MORE THAN AT LEAST 2 PEOPLE WHO ARE LISTED AS STAFF LMAO YO I’M A WRITER AT LARGE OR SOME SHIT WORD TO GLENN O’BRIEN I MISS YOU CHIEF RIP
THINGS I LISTENED TO BECAUSE THEY WERE TRENDING THAT I DON’T HAVE A LOT TO SAY ABOUT:
ASAP ROCKY – TESTING: I LOVE ASAP BUT THIS RECORD KIND OF CAME AND WENT WITH NO FANFARE. ROCKY DOES BEST WHEN HE’S ON HIS OWN, THE SONGS WITH THE GUESTS ON THEM ARE THE WEAKEST PARTS OF THIS ALBUM SINCE ROCKY TENDS TO TRY AND EMULATE THEM TO A DEGREE. IT’S ADMIRABLE THAT HE’S WILLING TO EXPERIMENT AND MAKE OTHERS FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE, BUT I CAME HERE TO LISTEN TO A GUY BEING CHARMING WHILE SAYING HE’S WEARING SHOES THAT COST MORE THAN I MAKE IN A YEAR AND THAT HE’D SLEEP WITH EVERYONE I KNOW AND I WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO GET MAD AT HIM.
KANYE WEST - YE: EVERYONE SEEMS TO SAY IT’S EITHER AWFUL OR AMAZING, I THINK IT’S JUST OKAY. THERE’S SOME COOL PARTS BUT JUST AS MANY CRINGY ONES. THE PART WHERE KANYE IS LIKE “I HOPE MY DAUGHTER DOESN’T LOOK LIKE KIM KARDASHIAN WHEN SHE GROWS UP BECAUSE THEN GUYS ARE GOING TO OGLE HER LIKE I OGLED HER MOTHER” LITERALLY MADE ME GO “YIKES THAT’S REGRESSIVE” OUT LOUD
ROLO TOMASSI – TIME WILL DIE AND LOVE WILL BURY IT: IT WAS OKAY. @ PEOPLE WHO LIKE DEAFHEAVEN: SORRY. DON’T @ ME. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
WOLF KING – LOYAL TO THE SOIL: SOLID RELEASE BUT NOTHING CRAZY. I WISH MORE PEOPLE LIKED WOLF KING BECAUSE AT THE MOMENT I FEEL LIKE I HAVE TO KEEP TALKING ABOUT THEM OR ELSE THEY’LL DISAPPEAR OR SOMETHING LOL. THEY FINALLY GOT A BASS PLAYER ON THIS RECORD WHICH IS SICK. THE GUITAR PLAYER WHO SOUNDS LIKE THE GRUNTING GUY FROM HARMS WAY AND THE VOCALIST WHO SOUNDS LIKE THE DUDE FROM THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA WORK TOGETHER REALLY WELL VOCALLY, AND I ALWAYS WILL BACK HARDCORE KIDS PLAYING EXTREME METAL.
CONVERGE – BEAUTIFUL RUIN: OH WOW ANOTHER CONVERGE RECORD THAT’S REALLY GOOD. SHOCKER. IT’S JUST B-SIDES FROM THE DUSK IN US BUT CONVERGE CAN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG.
VEIN – ERRORZONE: YO IM JUST GETTING THIS OUT OF THE WAY BECAUSE EVERYONE ON THE FUCKING PLANET HAS LISTENED TO VEIN AND ITS ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE IS AT LADY BIRD LEVELS FUCKING BROLIC WITH THE WORSHIP. EVERYTHING HAS BEEN SAID ABOUT THIS ONE ALREADY SO HERE’S A FEW POINTS I’M GOING TO MAKE THAT I FEEL HAVEN’T BEEN MADE:
PORCHES – THE HOUSE: TL;DR: THE LEAD SINGLE FOR THIS IS A SONG CALLED “COUNTRY,” WHICH IS LEGITIMATELY A PERFECT SONG, 10/10, SOUNDS LIKE THE FEELING OF THE FIRST FEW MONTHS OF FALLING IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE, REST OF THE RECORD IS TRASH AND I HATED IT. HERE’S A PIC THAT I WAS COMPELLED TO MAKE AFTER LISTENING TO IT.
JESUS PIECE – ONLY SELF: OKAY SO A FEW MONTHS BACK I MADE THE BOLD DECLARATION THAT I EXPECTED THIS ALBUM TO BE THE DARKHORSE PICK FOR “UNEXPECTED ALBUM THAT EVERYONE FREAKS OUT ABOUT” AND EVEN THOUGH THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN IT STILL IS PRETTY GREAT. JESUS PIECE HAVE THIS REALLY INTERESTING DYNAMIC GOING ON WHERE THEYRE A DEATHCORE BAND BUT NO ONE REALIZES IT BECAUSE 1.) THEY DON’T SUCK AND 2.) THAT’S LITERALLY THE ONLY REASON. I DID AN EXPERIMENT A FEW WEEKS AGO WHERE I PLAYED A JESUS PIECE SONG AND AN ACACIA STRAIN SONG SPEED UP x1.25 AND ASKED PEOPLE WHICH WAS WHICH AND A SHOCKING AMOUNT OF PEOPLE (ML WRITERS TOO) GOT IT WRONG LOL. ONLY SELF IS THEIR STRONGEST RELEASE SO FAR AND REALLY SHOWCASES WHAT THEY’RE ABLE TO DO AS A BAND, IT’S FILLED WITH THE KIND OF STOP-START BREAKDOWN-COMPILATION-VIDEO-TYPE RIFFS THEY’VE ALWAYS DONE BUT THIS TIME THEY’RE ABLE TO KEEP MOMENTUM BETWEEN THEM AND NOT HAVE THEM FEEL LIKE DIVERGENT SECTIONS PIECED TOGETHER WITH RECKLESS ABANDON. THERE’S A SEGMENT IN “CURSE OF THE SERPENT” THAT STRINGS TOGETHER A SCRATCHY PERCUSSIVE SECTION INTO A MORE OPEN TRANSITION INTO THE WHOLE “BIG FIGHT RIFF” PART, WHICH THEN REINCORPORATES AND REINTRODUCES THE PREVIOUS SECTIONS BUT WITH A LOOSER FEEL, IDK I’M NOT A MUSIC DORK I CAN’T DESCRIBE IT WELL BUT WHAT I’M GETTING AT IS “OH WOW THEY MADE A ‘WELL PLAY THE BREAKDOWN BUT SLOWER’ THING SOUND GOOD BECAUSE THEY ACTUALLY FUCKING THOUGHT ABOUT HOW TO MAKE IT SOUND NATURAL.” THERE’S ALSO A COUPLE SONG WHERE THEY HIT A KEG WITH A BASEBALL BAT AND I PROMISE YOU I’LL NEVER GET SICK OF THAT.
LILY ALLEN - NO SHAME: LILY ALLEN IS A PRECIOUS ANGEL AND A GIFT TO HUMANITY BUT SHEEZUS FUCKING SUCKED AND WAS PEAK BUZZFUCKERY AND EVEN SHE KNEW IT, SO IM GLAD THAT SHE PUT OUT A REAL “I’M A SINGER HERE’S SOME BALLADS” ALBUM BECAUSE THAT’S KIND OF THE POINT SHE’S AT IN HER LIFE RIGHT NOW (READ: A SINGLE MOTHER IN HER THIRTIES). THE FIRST HALF OF THIS ALBUM FEATURES SOME KIND OF MEH BUT NOT BAD TRACKS BUT THE SECOND HALF REALLY IS IMPRESSIVE. SONGS LIKE “PUSHING UP DAISES” FEEL LIKE A NATURAL MATURATION OF HER PREVIOUS WORK, WHILE SONGS LIKE “THREE” AND “FAMILY MAN” (WHICH IS MY FAVORITE SONG ON THE ALBUM) SHOW A PRETTY NEW SIDE TO HER AS AN ARTIST. I DON’T THINK THIS ALBUM IS A MASTERPIECE OR ANYTHING BUT IT’S A LOT BETTER THAN I WAS EXPECTING AND IM REALLY GLAD FOR HER :^)
ON THE FLIPSIDE I REALLY DON’T LIKE “TRIGGER BANG” THO, SINCE I’M NOT CURRENTLY WEARING A NIKE TRACKSUIT AND HOPPING A TURNSTILE. GRIME RAPPERS TALK LIKE THE FUCKING BLUE MEANIES DUDE LMAO THEY’RE LIKE
“MAN LIKE TYLER GONE MAD WITH THEM FEET PON ME CREPS INNIT. IM GASSED UP BRUV. SKREWFACED. BOUT TO DUPPY UP WASTMAN PROPER YEAH”
DUDE ENGLISH PEOPLE AREN’T EVEN REAL LOL.
CODE ORANGE - THE HURT WILL GO ON (I COULDN’T FIND A FULL ALBUM LINK SO HERES ONE TRACK FIGURE IT OUT ON YOUR OWN YOURE A GROWN UP NOW):
YO SO APPARENTLY PART OF THE DEAL WITH THE TIMELINE WHERE WE GET A TEEN TITANS VILLAIN AS PRESIDENT WAS THAT WE’D ALSO GET THE FIRST CODE ORANGE RELEASE THAT WAS COOL SINCE SIDE A OF I AM KING.
AS MOST OF YOU WHO KNOW ME PERSONALLY ARE AWARE, I’VE HAD AN ONGOING LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH CODE ORANGE (KIDS) SINCE 2012. IM NOT GOING TO GET INTO THE REAL DETAILS IN THIS ARTICLE AS TO WHY I CAN’T TAKE A BUNCH OF ART SCHOOL KIDS WHO I’VE SEEN CRYING IN THEIR UNDERWEAR SERIOUSLY WHEN THEY STARTED BEING TOUGH FIGHT GUYS, BUT EVERY RUROUNI KENSHIN SPEECH JAMI GIVES DURING TIHC VIDEOS MAKES ME FIND THEM EVEN FUNNIER. YO THIS GUY LEGITIMATELY YELLED OUT “I SEE A LOT OF FUCKING COWARDS. I SEE A LOT OF SPIES” DURING THE BUILD UP TO THE BREAKDOWN IN ONE SONG LMAO.
ANYWAY, 5 YEARS AFTER RELEASING LOVE IS LOVE//RETURN TO DUST, WHICH IS ONE OF THE BEST HARDCORE DEBUTS IN HISTORY, CODE ORANGE PUT OUT FOREVER WHICH FUCKING S U C K E D. I KNOW EVERYONE IS DEFENDING THEM LIKE “OH YEAH CODE ORANGE IS BLAZING NEW TERRITORY WHAT OTHER BAND SOUNDS LIKE THEM RIGHT NOW?” BUT LIKE LOL YEAH NO BANDS SOUND LIKE CODE ORANGE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE EVERY BAND THAT SOUNDS LIKE THEM BROKE UP IN 1998.
ANYWAY WHEN I SAW THAT THEY RELEASED THIS EP I WAS LIKE “YO I KNEW THEY WERE GOING TO DO SOMETHING WITH COREY TAYLOR LOL” AND ALSO “WOW IF 2012 ME KNEW THAT COREY TAYLOR WOULD DO A SONG WITH THE GUYS WHO DID ‘MY BODY IS A WELL’ AND I’D ONLY HAVE A LUKEWARM FEELING ABOUT IT HE’D BE DEVASTATED” BUT THEN 2018 ME GOT THE SHOCK OF HIS LIFE WHEN HE LISTENED TO THIS AND IT ACTUALLY RIPPED.
DON’T GET ME WRONG, THIS ISNT NEARLY AS GOOD AS THEIR –KIDS ERA STUFF BUT IT STILL IS LEAPS AND BOUNDS ABOVE ANYTHING OFF OF FOREVER AND HALF OF THE SONGS ON I AM KING. “3 KNIVES” IS KIND OF THE PERFECT REALIZATION OF WHAT THEY WERE GOING FOR ON FOREVER (READ: FEAR FACTORY WITH BREAKDOWNS) AND THE ENDING BREAKDOWN IS ACTUALLY INSANE. THE SONG WITH COREY TAYLOR IS PRETTY GOOD TOO, IT’S BASICALLY JUST A MARILYN MANSON SONG IN DROP B BUT I LIKE IT. COREY DOESN’T ADD THAT MUCH BUT IT’S STILL COOL AND HE’S IN THE GREATEST METAL BAND OF ALL TIME SO I’M NOT COMPLAINING ABOUT HIM BEING IN IT. THE LAST SONG IS JUST ANOTHER REMIX OF A SONG THE GUY WHO LOOKS LIKE CODE LYOKO ALREADY DID LIKE COME ON SHADE DON’T YOU HAVE TO TERRORIZE THE CYBER CHASE KIDS OR SOMETHING?
POST NOTHING – NEW EMOTIONAL FASCISM: A LOT OF BANDS I’M FRIENDS WITH RELEASED ALBUMS THIS YEAR. THIS ONE IS MY FAVORITE. CLEVER LYRICS, GOOD PRODUCTION, LOTS OF MOSH PARTS SPECIALLY FORMULATED FOR PEOPLE IN MOSH RETIREMENT TO POWERFULLY NOD THEIR HEAD TO. CHECK IT OUT OR BE A POSER, THE CHOICE IS YOURS
LITERALLY JOHN MAYER’S ENTIRE DISCOGRAPHY
(JUST GO TO A BARNES & NOBLE THEY’RE PROBABLY PLAYING “YOUR BODY IS A WONDERLAND” RIGHT NOW)
JOHN MAYER IS SO FUCKING SICK LOL. I’M DEAD SERIOUS I’VE BEEN FUCKING JAMMING TO SOME J.M. A LOT RECENTLY. DUDE CAN BELT AND IS ONE OF LIKE 3 CELEBRITIES THAT’S WORTH FOLLOWING ON INSTAGRAM FOR REASONS BESIDES JUST BEING LUNATICS. IF YOU DON’T FEEL YOUR LIBIDO SHRINK IN TERROR AT JOHN’S VOCAL PERFORMANCE IN “GRAVITY” YOU’RE KIDDING YOURSELF MY GUY.
HERE’S A MEME I MADE THAT I’VE BEEN TRYING TO MAKE GO VIRAL FOR MONTHS NOW LOL:
CULTURE ABUSE – BAY DREAM: CULTURE ABUSE’S LAST RECORD PEACH WAS A PRETTY DECENT PUNK RECORD. I SAW THEM PLAY AT A VENUE IN WEST HAVEN (YOU KNOW THE ONE) AND ONE OF MY FRIENDS REFERRED TO THEM AS BEING “GIRLFRIEND-CORE” WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT ‘ILL NEVER BE ABLE TO FORGET AS LONG AS I LIVE. THIS RECORD BORED ME TO TEARS AND I TURNED IT OFF AND PUT ON THE LIVE VIDEO OF COALESCE PLAYING MICHIGAN FEST TWO SONGS IN. HERE’S A CONVO I HAD WITH MY FRIEND ABOUT THIS ALBUM.
(I ONLY USE LOWERCASE IN MY PERSONAL LIFE)
MOUTHBREATHER – “DOLLMEAT”
SEEYOUSPACECOWBOY – “SYSC/SGKF SPLIT”
CHAMBER – “HATRED SOFTLY SPOKEN”
(IF YOU’RE READING THIS WEBSITE YOU ALREADY HAVE THESE DOWNLOADED)
IM DOING ALL THREE OF THESE TOGETHER SINCE THEY ALL FALL INTO THE SAME CATEGORY OF “BANDS I LIKE THAT ALSO SOUND LIKE SOMETHING I WOULD HAVE LISTENED TO WHEN I WAS 16.” I’M ALSO PROBABLY JUST AS SICK OF WRITING RIGHT NOW AS YOU ARE OF READING SO LET’S JUST DO THIS IN A LIGHTNING ROUND FORMAT:
MOUTHBREATHER: SOUNDS LIKE CONVERGE PLAYING AFTER THE BURIAL SONGS. LOTS OF BREAKDOWNS. SOME ARE COOLER THAN OTHERS. THERE’S A PART WHERE THERE’S A BASS BREAK THAT’S SUPER HEAVY BUT THEN THE BAND COMES IN AND IT LOSES ALL ITS IMPACT. BESIDES THAT, THIS RECORD IS SHORT AND HEAVY AND SOUNDS MORE LIKE VEIN THAN VEIN’S NEW RECORD DID LOL. ALSO THE VIDEO OF ALEX BROWN PITTING TO MOUTHBREATHER MAKES MY HEART BURST WITH JOY.
SEEYOUSPACECOWBOY: THIS BAND REFERS TO ITSELF AS BEING “SASSY” WHICH PEOPLE DON’T REALIZE WAS ALREADY AN ACTUAL MOVEMENT IN THE EARLY-MID 2000s. I REALLY LIKE SYSC. THEY REMIND ME OF DUCKDUCKGOOSE MIXED WITH CANADA SONGS-ERA DAUGHTERS. EVERY BAND I LIKE IN 2018 NEEDS TO GET COMPARED TO DAUGHTERS IT’S THE LAW.
CHAMBER: THE BEST OF THE SINGULAR-WORD-NOUN METALCORE BANDS IVE DISCOVERED USING THE VALUABLE RESOURCE KNOWN AS “CESAR’S INSTAGRAM STORY.” I’LL BE COMPLETELY FRANK WITH YOU GUYS: I’VE BEEN SICK OF PANIC CHORD METALCORE SINCE 2011 SO ITS REVIVAL IS REALLY NOT GELLING WELL WITH ME LOL. THIS BAND DOES IT WELL THOUGH. I LIKE THE LAST SONG WHERE THEY JUST PLAY A LAMB OF GOD SONG LOL. I HOPE THEY PUT OUT MORE THINGS SINCE THIS WAS SICK AND THEY APPARENTLY HAVE JACOB LILY FROM DWELL AS A VOCALIST NOW AND HE’S INSANE (RIP DWELL YOU WERE TOO GOOD FOR THIS WORLD).
I WAS GOING TO PUT SOMETHING ABOUT HOW I MISSED OUT ON TWO ALBUMS LAST YEAR SO I WASN’T ABLE TO INCLUDE THEM IN MY TOP TEN LIST BUT IT BASICALLY WOULD HAVE JUST BEEN “EMPLOYED TO SERVE’S WARMTH OF A DYING SUN IS HEAVY AND THEN IT ISN’T AND IT’S COOL AND I LIKE IT.” AND “BLIS’S NO ONE LOVES YOU IS SAD AND EMO AND WOULD HAVE FUCKING CRUSHED THE SCENE IN 2014.” SO I DIDN’T LOL (CHECK THEM OUT THO THEY’RE GREAT).
YO SINCE WE’RE ALREADY COMPLETELY LACKING ANY STRUCTURE OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT HERE’S A TOP 5 LIST OF WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR:
5.) THE THIS TOWN NEEDS GUNS ANIMALS ACOUSTIC ALBUM. I HAVE A DEGREE IN A SOCIAL SCIENCE AND WEAR GLASSES SO NATURALLY I LIKE SOFT SONGS WITH ACOUSTIC GUITARS DOING TWIDDLY SHIT.
4.) THAT HORSE THE BAND RECORD WE WERE SUPPOSED TO GET LAST YEAR BUT DIDN’T. I KNOW IT’S OUT THERE GOD DAMN IT. THEY DID A CHRISTMAS SONG TOO WHICH WAS OKAY BUT ITS LYRICS ARE KINDA DUMB EVEN BY HTB STANDARDS AND I’M WAITING FOR THE NINTENDOCORE REVIVAL TO HAPPEN EVEN THOUGH I’M PROBABLY THE ONLY GUY WHO STILL LIKES IT.
3.) THAT BAND THE THREATS’S NEW RELEASE SINCE THEY’RE STATISTICALLY THE CLOSEST THING TO THE CHARIOT WE HAVE RIGHT NOW (EVEN WITH THE TWO MOST VALUABLE THE CHARIOT MEMBERS NOT BEING IN IT).
2.) THE NEW CULT LEADER RECORD THAT THEY RECORDED IN A WEEK LIKE 4 MONTHS AGO AND HAVEN’T MENTIONED SINCE.
1.) WHATEVER THE FIRST BAND TO SOUND LIKE THE BREACH ALBUM “IT’S ME GOD” BUT WITH BETTER PRODUCTION PUTS OUT.
WIMPS AND POSERS LEAVE THE HALL. *FORCES YOU TO LEAVE HALL*
Roseblood - No One Here Gets Out Alive
Stream/Download on Bandcamp //Support on Facebook
New Jersey metalcore act, Roseblood dropped their debut record No One Here Gets Out Alive the other night and it is as diabolical as the title suggests. This album takes heavy influence from bands such as Kickback and Shattered Realm and does everything in its power to live up. Clocking in with five songs at eleven minutes of violence and terror, Roseblood’s name is sure to make its way around local hardcore scenes across the country.
Starting off the album with the track “FTD” you get some very dark and inclosed vibes, almost like being trapped inside a solitary cell at your nearest mental institution. Delivering some crushing riffs bristling with feedback, your ears will orgasm as the track drops you into the hellish sounds of “Pure Sadism.” “BURN. CRUSH. KILL. BLEED” and “This is what you should fear / you are what you should fear” are lyrics that will burn themselves into your brain as you destroy your surroundings to the intense drum patterns and riffs, a soundtrack to pure war.
“DCLXVI” is a song off their debut EP, released almost a year ago, but that line “I’ll set myself on fire just to watch you die” will force you into a euphorically destructive state of mind. It’s nothing short of a perfect metalcore line. “Zapruder” almost feels like a grindcore track, clocking in at less than a minute but preparing you for the record’s climax, “No One Here Gets Out Alive.”
If you’ve made it to the title track, you’re in for a real treat as the band has prepared some ambient, sinister noise to send you off. Not only does this track provide some of the most uncanny harmony I’ve ever heard from a metalcore band, it has one of the best instrumentals I think I’ve heard so far in 2018.
Roseblood is coming for you. Prepare yourself, because as the title of the album suggests, you won’t make it out alive.
Listen and purchase on Bandcamp
About a year ago, Saarkoth submitted their self-titled demo to Metal Lifestyle. As the resident black metal guy, I took a listen and was impressed with the record’s “wholeness”: here was a young and unproven black metal band with a well-defined identity and good atmospheric instincts, right off the vine. I spent an afternoon playing those three songs over and over, and still return to it every now and then to refresh my memory of what a genuinely promising young band sounds like. The Wanderer now officially doubles the size of their output sees Saarkoth pick up and set off into the wider wilderness of the genre in search of fresh new modes of expression.
When you get down to it, this release is really no more than a single, an “exclusive,” and a cover, but it doesn’t handle at all like you would expect. It begins with “The Wanderer,” a song we might call “typical” Saarkoth, with its tremolo lead and gurgled vocals establishing a baseline of bright, meditative black metal that celebrates the band’s influences--mainly Agalloch, Immortal, and Winterfylleth--even as it carves out a little space for itself. Right away, we can hear how Saarkoth have tightened up as a unit, the song's anthemic structure buoying it through a slightly extended runtime.
It’s catchy, memorable, and makes a fine summary of what came before, setting the stage for the release’s true centerpiece, “Memories of You,” which towers over Saarkoth’s discography as both the best thing they’ve written yet and a bracing tribute to the friend whose passing inspired the song. It winds and wends from mystical reservation to roiling fury over its nine minutes, even rubbing the stars out of its eyes at one point to brandish a couple of visceral death metal riffs before resuming as if nothing happened, the spark of genuine inspiration guiding the song through a number of further turns and switchbacks. An element of emotive psychedelia creeps in, but the song suddenly comes to a head in an echoing, choir-like refrain of “The memories of you, they shall never fade / The lives touched by your love forever changed / The memories of you are forever ingrained / In our hearts, they shall always remain,” before tumbling away into a cloud of reverb.
It has the sense to leave a few seconds of silence for the listener to process this example of black metal mastery before Saarkoth come galloping back in with a note-perfect cover of Winterfylleth’s “Defending the Realm.” This sort of thing was bound to happen sooner or later, given that Saarkoth are massive fans of the band; but their choice of song, and its placement on the tracklist, is not accidental. Here is a song that makes sense of death by ennobling it: “If you find yourself / on the tip of an enemy sword,” it says, “pull them close to you / look into their eyes and laugh.” Death is not the end for a person who dies believing in something greater than their own mortality, “for a drop of blood / that falleth to soil / means you will live / in the land that you love / forever.”
It’s a stirring sentiment to complement and close up the wound of “Memories of You” in a thematically satisfying manner, elevating The Wanderer from what would be a hasty odds-and-ends release in the hands of a lesser band to an important stepping stone in Saarkoth’s continuing journey. In my review of Saarkoth’s first release, I claimed that it’s not the job of a demo to “explore every nook and cranny of a band’s sound,” and yet here we are, with a bigger, bolder, and more detailed Saarkoth than before in just three tracks. Also in that review, I predicted that Saarkoth’s “knack” for the genre would “lead to some excellent work in the future if they can continue to build on this confident, well-rounded beginning,” but I couldn’t have predicted it happening, also, in the next three songs!
All to say that I won’t be making any more predictions about this band, because they’re just going to blow them away and make me look silly. Here, instead, is a demand: pay attention to Saarkoth.
Not even the tortured blob floating in crimson space on the cover prepares you for Unloved. Even if you’ve listened to The Collapse and the mathpocalypse of Orange Mathematics, Frontierer will still get the drop on you with the all-new convexity of “Tumoric” and “Gower St.,” the Escher-designed barbarity of “Fluorescent Nights,” “The Destruction Artist,” “Bombgnasher,” and so on. You get the picture. It’s one they’ve spent three records refining down to the last painful detail, a hyperreal and hyper-precise assault of the senses that puts the band’s ability to overpower on full display. It’s so damn potent that even some failed experiments and lapses in memorability eventually subsume to brute overload.
In the years between Orange Mathematics and this, their sophomore record graduated in my personal rankings from an excellent mathcore record in the spirit of Ion Dissonance and The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza to a near-classic. I spent a lot of time inside that record’s annihilatory glare, and although I found myself wishing for no more than a “part two” to Orange Mathematics, just to spend another hour getting pulverized by the primal-futurism of their sound, I knew that what I really wanted was not to hear more of the same music, but to experience the same visceral reaction all over again.
To that end, Unloved is exactly what I said I wanted, another radioactive helping of Orange Mathematics-style mathcore. But, no more than a handful of songs in, I’ve found that Unloved plateaus in a way that I suppose every all-in-all-the-time bands do. There are only so many patterns you can use to achieve the delirium of, say, a “Bleak” or a “Bombgnasher”--not helped by the production, which steadily squashes individual notes into so much hot glue--and there’s a pall of familiarity looming over the record, too, that can be gratifying as often as it can be detrimental. When this sound work (see the songs mentioned above), it’s fully arresting, commanding your full attention and leaving you spent in the few seconds between one three-to-four minute round is up and the next begins. When it doesn’t work, it sounds like “Heartless 101.”
Here is a song that will take as many long-time listeners by surprise as it will first-timers. It begins, unlike any Frontierer song, with vocalist Chad Kapper muttering over synthetic bass and melody. It then kicks into more typical Frontierer gear, pummeling and pounding until the song suddenly contorts itself into an out-of-the-blue industrial beat, thundering bass and all, seesawing back and forth between these poles right to the close. The failure of “Heartless 101” is that it doesn’t present Frontierer’s sound in a new light. Instead, it demonstrates their ability to splice in other, undigested influences, always halting the song to do so before resuming on a new tangent. On one hand, this diarrhetic approach makes the following couple of tracks pop that much more (“Unloved & Oxidized” is actually a better take on what “Heartless 101” attempts), but on the other, it creates a vacuum, functioning more like an intermission where we watch the band shuffle around and retune their instruments than a complete song.
It’s not the record’s only problem--I mentioned a lack of memorability, which surfaces in the second half of the record as rhythmic patterns and songwriting twists ring familiar, the music blurring into red-hot noise--but I also mentioned Frontierer’s ability to overpower, and that cannot be overstated. Listen to Kapper, who sits right in front of the mix. I read or inferred somewhere that he recorded his parts for Unloved in one session. True or not, his ability to variate tone and emphasis while maintaining a baseline of frothing rage is awe-inspiring, as reminiscent of Jens Kidman as it is of Tom Araya or Jacob Bannon. Listen to the “resend/restart” section of “Tumoric” for the clearest example of his ability to inject subtle new shades of meaning into each supposedly monotone repetition. At all times, he’s like a thermometer about to blow its mercury, a sentiment we can extend to the rest of the band as well: even when we can’t hear the notes in Pedram Valiani, Dan Stevenson, and Calum Craig’s riffs, their sheer explosiveness commands attention in a way bands both more and less technical that Frontierer would kill to replicate. And while subtlety is not in this band’s lexicon, there is a craftiness to how drummer Owen Hughes’s goes about manipulating the tempo and time signatures of tracks like “Designer Chemtrails,” “Neon Barnacle,” “Darkside Moonstroll,” and so on. He is the serrated edge on Frontierer’s blade.
2018 will not see a better mathcore record than Unloved, but it’ll be worth watching what moves Frontierer make from this point onward. A threepeat of this sound will probably consign them to a niche occupied by few, but deviations toward that place “Heartless 101” and “Unloved & Oxidized” point will alienate the core base a band needs to ensure longevity. It would appear to be Sophie’s choice, but for that fact that, like its predecessor, there comes a point in Unloved when even the gripes one can raise in the early half become blurry, indistinct, and obsolete. Frontierer’s singular conviction renders every argument against it futile. The fact of their growing relevance, despite an unchanging agenda, seems to guarantee that whether you come into this band prepared to resist or ready to fling yourself beneath their treads, it doesn’t matter. You’re going under those treads and Frontierer will do as they please, loved or unloved.
Locked Out - Dissociation
Album releases on August 3rd, 2018
Connecticut has never been shy about introducing brutal and impressively intense metalcore acts into the world and today is your introduction to Locked Out, who, with their debut release Dissociation, are not strangers to groovy riffs and extreme vocals, coining for themselves the genre of “slamming metalcore.”
Dissociation is close to bands like Bodysnatcher but also aims for the more simplistic metalcore elements you’d find in bands like Knocked Loose. The one thing that is clear immediately from the intro track, “Decimation,” is that the band is coming for your head. Intro tracks for this genre are generally instrumental hype-ups, which holds true here with a brilliant, slammy pit-starter setting the mood and letting you know what you’re in for.
Once you recover from “Decimation,” you’re tossed into “Dead End,” which provides some tasty two-step riffs but lacks substance compared to the rest of the record--it’s just a little run-of-the-mill, without a defined purpose. “Burden,” however, picks the record back up with the nastiest pig squeal I think I’ve heard since Acrania dropped their album in 2014, showcasing the monstrous abilities of frontman Steve McCormack.
The second half of the album kicks off with “Collateral Damage,” which sounds like getting knocked out at the edge of a Locked Out pit feels. It’s basically a massive mosh track featuring Gamma Sector vocalist Daniel Burris, making the song almost illegally heavy. “Trauma” hops back and forth across the deathcore/metalcore line, showing off some of the best-judged songwriting on Dissociation. It’s the record’s stand-out track, closely followed by “Chin Check,” which could not close the album any better. It makes you itch for more Locked Out, and as soon as possible. Dissociation isn’t perfect, but it’s satisfying heavy and yet another gem of the Connecticut scene. “Chin Check” is in line to be one of the best metalcore outros yet, next to Volition’s “Hyron,” off their farewell EP.
Do not sleep on Locked Out. I promise you will regret it.
- Dakota G.
Scorpion makes Views look concise, but that’s to be expected: this is a two-disc, twenty-five track record, three tracks and almost ten minutes longer than his last unofficial record/“playlist” More Life, an offering which was itself symptomatic of Drake’s problem with overstaying his welcome. That condition has gone terminal.
It would be repetitive, torturous, and probably futile to try to catalog the individual failures of each track on Scorpion, but in macro, it’s plenty obvious that this is simultaneously Drake’s most bloated record and his most bored. Beats come and go in an anonymous procession of clicks, ticks, and booms, over which Drake finds painfully little motivation to exercise his once-celebrated ability to switch up his flow. His hooks have eroded into declarative blurts or stale vocal runs, the gear shift between his Rapper Mode and Singer Mode audibly rusty and begging for variation, and whatever structural experimentation made the run from Take Care to If You’re Reading This Its Too Late worth investigating has devolved into a series of musical shrugs. Subsequent listens bring out the cracks in the same way prodding thin ice will exacerbate its faults, but Scorpion’s greatest detriment is an external one.
“The Story of Adidon,” as you should already be well aware, is the harpoon that might sink the white whale, and it’s not the only one in Pusha-T’s arsenal if his remarks following that drop are to be trusted. The culmination of a mostly passive back-and-forth that suddenly sprang into the spotlight a few weeks ago, the song’s jaw-dropping mix of petty barbs and outright character assassination--among them, that Drake’s friend and longtime producer Noah “40” Shebib is suffering from multiple sclerosis; that Drake is uncomfortable with his own blackness, silent on an array of issues facing black Americans even as he plays culture vulture on “blacker” communities for the sake of sales appeal; and, most sensationally, that Drake is hiding a son--trivializes much of Scorpion’s already scant emotional content and totally hollows out “March 14,” the only track on this behemoth with any sort of emotional resonance. It’s not clear whether this song was written before “The Story of Adidon,” but does it matter?
The assurance of more to follow from Pusha looms over Scorpion like a tornado watch, sapping the excitement out of even the album’s triumphs. “Nice For What” is an objectively fire beat (sampling Lauryn Hill will do that) paired to a message of female empowerment that was great to hear at first, but now seems like a calculated play for goodwill, its feelgood party vibe bearing a sweaty sheen of opportunism. “Talk Up” is the third Drake/Jay-Z collaboration following the mentor-mentee dialogue of “Light Up” and the luxurious reflections of “Pound Cake.” Like the latter, it sees these two commercial titans sharing the stage as equals, but as one of Scorpion’s few energetic moments, it feels stuck in all the dull surrounding balladry, both out of place and too little too soon.
We’re not even halfway through the full tracklist, and its verve and energy are never matched again. The rest of Scorpion’s limited pleasures come in flickers--the interactive Nicki Minaj sample on “That’s How You Feel”; the playful callback to “Lollipop” by the other major figure in Drake’s musical career on “In My Feelings”; Michael Jackson’s phantasmic "guest" verse, which balances out the huge blunder Drake almost made a few years ago with that unreleased Aaliyah record by being more tastefully done; the What A Time To Be Alive-outtake feel of “Blue Tint,” rounded out by a quick Future guest spot--but I can’t stress enough how impossible it is not to view these bright spots through the lens of Drake’s exhumed recent history.
Even if you take issue with some of the uglier things Pusha-T says, how do you invest in yet another round of Drake’s indulgent rich-boy blues when you know, thanks to “The Story of Adidon” and the horse’s-mouth confirmation of “March 14,” that he was willing to use his wealth and power to perpetuate the cycle of black fatherlessness he’s addressed in his music as a victim? How do you stomach his fetishistic preoccupation with old lays and his (well-tread, increasingly repetitive, aggravatingly static, and manipulative) feelings of guilt and longing now that the curtain has been jerked back, forcing us to reckon with the fact that Drake’s playboy/star-crossed lover shtick has not been inconsequential?
The fallback position in such situations is to “separate the art from the artist,” but that seems an increasingly cowardly route by which to preserve the reputations of people to whom we owe virtually nothing, and to circuitously avoid personal reflection. The flaws we choose to ignore in our heroes say as much about us as the ones we don’t. I don’t think I’m assigning more meaning to Scorpion than necessary. On the contrary, I feel I'm engaging it on the only level that makes sense: as the work of a popular, powerful, black, male hedonist, who Pusha-T has correctly outed as one of the loudest silent voices in a conversation bigger than either of their egos, and who is almost certainly relying on a following of millions to forgive him his social absenteeism as long as he puts his name on another club-banger.
Death Grips- “Year of the Snitch”
Stream the LP here.
Death Grips. A name that has truly taken the internet by storm. This experimental hip-hop trio has released new music every year since forming in 2010, whether in EP or LP form, and they live for controversy. When told by Epic Records that they couldn’t release their second LP, NO LOVE DEEP WEB, they not only put it up for free the next day, they made this the cover of the LP. That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what this group has done over the years. Between 2012 and 2014, they would constantly cancel tour dates, even going as far as to saying they broke up just before a tour where they were opening for Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden.
Controversy is not the only thing that has kept this trio going, though. Their sound is truly unlike any other. Of course, hip-hop that dabbles in industrial and noise is nothing new, but it’s how these three minds approach it with passion, anger, and ambition that makes it special, each project doing something exciting the others do not. In their eighth year as a project, they have unleashed Year of the Snitch. This is easily one of my most anticipated listens of the year thanks to a note-perfect promotional campaign that made it feel as if this LP was slowly creeping up on us. First there was the trailer; then came the song drops every week until big release day finally arrived on June 22nd. I only listened to the first three of these singles, more than enough to get me psyched.
In 37 minutes, Death Grips manages to showcase all their forward-thinking madness at once. Each of these tracks pumps with the same energy we’ve come to expect of the Death Grips brand while taking advantage of a different influence. Flatlander, who always provides a quality product, really went out of his way to give this project the best possible production: “Death Grips is Online” has a paranoid, jumpy air that keeps the track sounding uniquely, and almost bizarrely, positive; later cut “Shitshow” is borderline cybergrind. Death Grips has dipped their toes into punk before (see the first two tracks off of their previous effort Bottomless Pit), but this is easily the most abrasive they have ever been. Flatlander’s influence makes sure it punches as hard as possible.
Then we have “Dilemma,” featuring Shrek director Andrew Adamson and an instrumental blatantly influenced by ’70s progressive rock. If it wasn’t clear, Death Grips is going places they never dreamed before. They’ve been thinking forward since day one, and still have new tricks up their sleeves all these years later, informed by that same deadpan sense of humor that informed so much of The Money Store and the hoopla around NO LOVE DEEP WEB - the instrumental interlude is hilariously titled “Outro,” and its almost cartoonishly cyberpunk, reminiscent of the music for Batman Beyond. Somehow, it really, really works.
Despite the tracks all being relatively different from each other, Year of the Snitch remains coherent in that way only Death Grips seem to manage. One of the best transitions on this entire LP is between “Flies” and “Black Paint.” The former track is some of the most experimental music on the record and is just short of abrasive. Conversely, “Black Paint” is one of the record’s angriest tracks, yet the outro of “Flies” perfectly connects the two. There’s also a nice transition between the instrumental “The Horn Section,” which sounds like you’re about to play a few hours of Tekken, whereas “Hahaha” is exactly what you expect from its title: absolutely kooky.
In typical Death Grips fashion, the percussion is pretty much entirely electronic. Sometimes they go faster than hell (“Shitshow”), only to see them keep it mellow on the very next track, “Streaky,” the first single released for this LP. They play a similar role on “Linda’s in Custody,” giving a much more relaxing feeling on an LP that is otherwise completely out there in production and lyrics. Then crank the heat up on “Little Richard” and “The Fear.” It’s a back-and-forth Zach has come to master over the years; he knows instinctively when and where to go crazy and when to take a backseat, demonstrating a rare finesse in a group that often strives to sound as off-the-cuff as possible.
Take the voice of Death Grips, and for many, it’s selling point: MC Ride. Year of the Snitch contains arguably his best and most varied vocal performance yet, and considering their back catalogue, that is saying something. Tracks like “Black Paint” and “Shitshow” feature his typical vocal mannerisms, which essentially consist of him yelling in your face, but “Flies” and “Streaky” feature cleaner vocals, which are just odd and unsettling after so many years spent establishing his primary style. Exacerbating the odd and unsettling tone he chooses for Year of the Snitch, “Flies” is literally about being devoured by the vomit of flies (“Should the opportunity arise, vomit me flies”), and O have a strong feeling that “Streaky,” with lyrics like “Booty on the outside,” is about anal prolapse. It’s good to know that Death Grips still rides the edge of decency with their lyrical content.
The LP concludes with “Disappointed,” which is probably my favorite Death Grips closer since NO LOVE DEEP WEB’s “Artificial Death in the West.” Lyrically, it sees Death Grips once again taking a jab at their fanbase, mocking them for not being able to understand the direction the group wants to go; they know how polarizing their inter-album mood swings can be, so they made sure this remained the listener’s last impression of Year of the Snitch. The instrumental is expectedly stellar here as well, bringing the main ethos of Year of the Snitch together; it’s almost home to what I think might be Ride’s best vocal performance yet. There’s not much that can top “Why me?” repeated throughout the track, each round more intense than the last.
VERDICT: Year of the Snitch shows us Death Grips at their most Death Grips, making music for themselves and no one else. If they weren’t before, Death Grips are now most assuredly online.
- Alex Brown