Apr 062010

In “Leviathan,” the philosopher Thomas Hobbes famously wrote that the life of man is “nasty, brutish, and short.” And that pretty much sums up the new LP from Austin’s Mammoth Grinder. Extinction of Humanity is 21 minutes of  distorted, stripped-down, feedback-accented, in-your-face, slash-and-sludge mayhem.

If you knew nothing about the band other than its name and that awesome, smoking, skull-faced, album cover above, you’d prudently prepare yourself for some ass-kicking, and you’d be right. Mammoth Grinder has thrown an unusual grab-bag of ingredients into the blender — garage-punk drum rhythms, a mash-up of grindcore pacing and sludgy trudging, harsh vocals somewhere between a hardcore howl and a death-metal growl, and a smorgasboard of heavy, fuzzed-out guitar stylings.

The resulting concoction is massively intoxicating. If you could really drink this venomous brew, it would lead you on the kind of romping binge that leaves you wondering at daylight what the hell you’d done the night before and where all that blood on your hands came from.

To find an analogue to what Extinction of Humanity delivers, scroll back through your catalogue and listen to Wolverine Blues (1993) from Entombed or (not quite as close a fit) Dismember‘s Like An Ever Flowing Stream (1991). Extinction is not strictly old-school death metal, but more like old-school, Swedish-style death ‘n’ roll — except maybe even more visceral in its appeal.  (read more after the jump, and listen to a song . . .)

Photo by Samantha Marble

This is a three-piece band — guitarist/vocalist Chris Ulsh; bassist Chris Camp; and drummer Brian Boeckman. As a general rule, three-piece bands work only if the song-writing is extra-good and only if the guitarist is capable of producing a variety of massive tones while riffing like all hell is about to bust loose.

Mammoth Grinder has got those bases covered. In particular, Chris Ulsh has got the chops to carry the extra weight of being the band’s lone guitarist. He produces a gritty, distorted, low-end sound, but mixes in tremolo picking, chainsaw grind riffs, headbanging death-metal chords, and even one (and sadly, only one) blazingly nasty solo, on the song “Frozen.”

The band varies the pacing within songs, with a penchant for dropping part-way through into slower, pounding tempos that really crush — and then zooming back up into headbanging overdrive, all the while maintaining that completely raw, shuddering jolt of guitar noise that Ulsh injects into the mix.

Are there any other bands out there who are delivering this kind of crusty punk-and-death throwback metal? Please tell us if you can! For a bribe, we’ll let you listen to a song from Mammoth Grinder. If you dig it, Extinction of Humanity is available from the usual online retailers.

Mammoth Grinder: Frozen

P.S. Earlier in this post we alluded to Entombed’s Wolverine Blues and Dismember’s Like An Ever Flowing Stream. Mammoth Grinder’s album prompted us to listen to those albums again, and holy shit, do they still kick massive amounts of ass! It’s not just that they were ground-breaking when them came out. They could be released today for the first time and still make most people’s Top 10 list for this year.

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