SIFTING: SVFFER, SPURN, THRIVE & DECAY, THE APEX, LXS JUGADXS
(DGR prepared this collection of violent music, reviewing releases by five groups of geographically dispersed sonic assassins.)
It has been some time since I have properly thrown myself around the internet with the reckless abandon of someone on a nuclear cocktail of mind-altering substances. It’s usually how I discover music, bouncing around the web like one of those corner store rubber balls that you spike on the ground and send into orbit. I like to imagine during these adventures that I’m a sort of musical Indiana Jones or Nicholas Cage, but in reality performance of said act probably resembles something closer to a Mr. Bean movie.
It’s been so long since I have attempted to archive my discoveries, though, that I now have a notepad file on my desktop with a whopping 20(!) finalists for my usual digging-through-Bandcamp feature. No longer am I strictly sifting through Bandcamp looking for the cream of the crop. Now? I am properly drowning, overwhelmed with a whole bevy of new music by bands who have either flown under our radar completely or we just happened to be two ships in the night.
So, I find myself kicking this feature off with five bands, all of them united by a somewhat core theme — this time we are brought to you by the words spastic, loud, and violent.
Between these five bands I would argue that maybe one has any sense of groove and the others are all violent expulsions of energy, gamma ray bursts that have been raring to go since their stars collapsed. Now we’re beaming them across the net from around the planet and right into your earholes, and just like the aforementioned bursts, some of these bands can be absolutely lethal.
I don’t think I’ve had a release blindside me like Svffer’s Empathist in some time. Svffer are a young band hailing from Germany who seem to be composed entirely of fury. I stumbled upon the band kind of randomly and was almost immediately enamored. The group was described as a grind/powerviolence band, so I initially knew what to expect, but I did not expect to have flesh rended from bone by way of flamethrower the way Svffer do.
Empathist starts off as a chaotic, swirling, angry mess and ends exactly the same way, and everything in between is a blur of destruction. It’s a noisy and spastic swath of riffs and blast-fueled drumming with a multi-pronged vocal attack that sees what feels like each band member screaming at the top of his lungs. Within the first three tracks I had come to the conclusion that this was some of the angriest music I had heard in some time.
And then I hit “Illusion”. Guys, I may be in love with this song. It’s a little bit of a formulaic track, but it has this absolutely massive buildup/mosh-call about halfway into the song that makes you feel like the fucking destroyer of worlds. It’s a huge track that ends in utter desolation — before taking a brief moment via movie sample to ruminate on the state of what power over another human being is.
Empathist is absolutely recommended. You guys owe it to yourselves to hear this. This band needs to get out there.
I am going to open this description with a list of good things happening to the instruments on Spurn’s demo.
Get all that? Good. I’m convinced that over the course of the little under six minutes that we spend with Calgary, Canada-based Spurn’s demo that nothing good is happening to the instruments on it.
I’m convinced, for example, that the opening sound on the song “Spoiled Failures” is what you get when you slam a bass guitar into a cement floor and then try to play it afterwards. The opening of the following song “Newsfeed” does something very similar, except I think this time it’s an electric guitar being murdered with a pair of scissors.
The whole EP is so distorted and messy that the only thing you can really capture are a drummer trying to struggle out of the mud that is his band’s sound and the lyrics — which come through with surprisingly clarity. Spurn make ugliness into a weapon and then bludgeon the crowd with it. Any traditional songwriting format seems lucked into by happenstance; it feels like both songs are exorcisms of sound.
Spurn’s demo is an audio recording of a crime against a set of instruments. We should really do a wellness check to make sure those guitars are okay. Highly recommended.
Thrive & Decay
We get a quick breather now with a group from my hometown, courtesy of Buriedinhell Records. Thrive & Decay are a newly formed band and Intergalacticannibal represents their first release, a four-song EP.
By virtue of the songs being your more average length, three-to-four minute tracks, Thrive & Decay may be the most traditional band in this episode of musical exhumations. Most traditional, of course, were it not for the fact that one of the musicians in the Thrive & Decay roster is Kenneth Hoffman, who is also part of the spastic-grind-noise-violence band Knifethruhead.
Before you ask, no, I cannot explain what Knifethruhead actually is, and my summary attempt in the previous sentence is the closest I have ever gotten. The known universe probably can’t explain Knifethruhead, and most of the time when people ask I tend to just show them this picture of the band and walk off on my merry way whilst whistling.
Thrive & Decay are a different band, of course, playing the sort of sewer-quality death metal you might come to expect from a group who counts Decay as one of its namesakes. It even likes the name enough to make it the opening song on this EP.
Thrive & Decay play a sort of grooving death metal that barrels through the landscape like a machine. Their music is not too dissimilar to the sound of a bulldozer just leveling a forest, even in the sections where the band get absolutely manic in delivery and the vocals get high. They belch fire and are happy to demonstrate that fact. The titular mouthful song of “Intergalacticannibal” is the one out of the four where you really start to hear the bleed-in from all of the Thrive & Decay members’ other projects, consisting of one fat chugging groove at the start before the vocals become even more shrill than they were on the two opening songs.
You can stream Intergalacticannibal on Bandcamp right now, and the EP is also available for purchase for a hot $2.99. If you enjoy crushing groove and don’t mind the music having occasional seizures into grind and punk movements, then Thrive & Decay may just be for you.
The Apex come to us all the way from the reaches of Windsor, Ontario, Canada — making them the second Canadian group I’m featuring in this here collection o’ pots and pans a’ bangin’. The group actually reached out to us a little while ago, and I’ve sort of sat on this release for a bit, mostly because there is a lot to take in.
The Apex are the sort of band who make very big music — filled to the brim with what seems like dissonant chaos but could probably best be characterized under the old genre tag of “chaotic hardcore”. I’ve seen this style under a megaton of different names — mathcore being a big one — but The Apex seem content to just make jackhammering music with some beefy, burly, faux-breakdowns in between. Its the sort of music where not one real song stands out, it’s just this massive blur of sound with a frontman absolutely belching and bellowing out lyrics. The group kind of forced the song “If Detroit River Could Speak” to be a single in the form of a video, but I feel like it was done more by sheer massive force of will, like trying to wrangle a humpback whale.
The Apex deliver a percussive bludgeoning in spades. It’s the sort of release where you need to be in a mood because a random song on shuffle is going to be like a random battering out of nowhere — but a full run can be an intense experience that leaves you looking like you fell out of a tumble dryer with a broken counterweight at the end of it.
This one is going to be a fun exercise in its own right, one entitled “Watch DGR dance around trying to type this group’s name a billion times over the course of this bit”. Since we’re being such international tourists, visiting such far-off and foreign places as California and Canada, I figured a trip to Argentina would fit right in.
Lxs Jugadxs are an angry bunch of Argentinians, playing a hellbound branch of grind that uses drum hits as bullets and words as ammunition. The whole 2015 demo is maybe five minutes long and it fits in perfectly with the other collection of noise assassins that I’ve been including in this roundup. Since its only five minutes, it’s hard not to recommend this particular auditory bloodbath, as the whole thing is just a seething spin that seems to build and reach crescendo in its last song. The perfect bit to close our batch of chaos out with. No remorse, no shelter, no calm.
I just made a straight run-through of all the shorter releases and about half of the longer ones. I’m wide awake now. Can you come over and help me find the pieces of my mind? And bring some duct tape?
All outta duct tape… do have gauze, chewing gum, and ball bearings though.
That is what was in there initially.
Who could ask for more? To borrow a line from Dr. Strangelove: “Shoot, a fella’ could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.”
That Svffer release is relentless.
That release is so goddamned good. Absolutely fucking blindside me and became my soundtrack for work from the moment I discovered it.
I haven’t gotten to listen to the new one yet, but their last album was amazing as well.
Thrive & Decay sounds awesome, and Lxs Jugadxs wins to award for coolest artwork of the day 🙂
Looks like a vampire crying because someone chopped up his dope plants with a samurai sword before they had a chance to sprout their heady goodness.
This is a plausible interpretation.
Really? All I saw was a sailboat…