(DGR brings us two reviews of two new cataclysmic musical assaults.)
The foraging for new sounds with which to ruin your hearing never stops here at NoCleanSinging, it just happens to move a little slower than usual as work hits its busy season for a few weeks. As such, I’ve been in the mood for the sort of music that can wipe away any sense of reality by fire, and I figured I’d share my two most recent listens that have allowed me to do that.
Both of these hit in January and have been sort of waiting in my back pocket, armed and ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice and, almost inevitably, something happens that causes one’s day to go sideways. Both of these releases are short, quick hits of adrenalin to the system and they both appear angry as hell. So if you need a good way to light a match on your day, here goes…
ROTTEN COLD / DISTASTE: A SPLIT
A few years ago I went on something of a grind kick here at NCS. Never really delved too deep into the underground, but had found a list of bands that I thoroughly enjoyed. A lot of them, to no surprise, took a lot of inspiration from bands like Nasum/Rotten Sound (who themselves have a disc hitting really soon) and more, from that specific breed of grind band. They were all lightspeed-heavy, blaster-style bands, and the whole thing that triggered my exploration was curiosity as to what musician had been in what project and what side projects they had been in.
This led to the circles-upon-circles style of musical discovery which eventually took me into one specific musical circle. And my guide into this one was Afgrund‘s current vocalist Armin Schweiger and the groups that he had been part of previously, such as the long running Distaste project. At that time, the group had just released a disc entitled Black Age Of Nihil that I thoroughly enjoyed. Distaste‘s career has produced a handful of releases, two of which are splits: One with the group Bastard Peels and one that was released earlier this year with fellow Austrian deathgrinders Rotten Cold.
What initially drew us to this split was the presence of the aforementioned Distaste. The Austrian grind band are part of a circle of musicians containing guys who’ve spent time in Afgrund, GodHateCode, and Genocide Generator. We’ve also spoken at length about those groups, and so this is an instance of us being huge fans of a circle of musicians with this most recent release being another chance for us to get that adrenalin pumped into our veins.
As stated before, its been a handful of years since the last Distaste album, but that doesn’t mean that the time off has tempered the guys in any way, as they take up a majority of this split with a grouping of songs (all in the native tongue) that pretty much start in high gear and keep themselves planted there from the moment when they receive control of the split from their buddies in Rotten Cold.
Rotten Cold are a long-running band in their own right, having existed under a couple of different names over the years, before settling on Rotten Cold in 2000. Until 2006, the band had a few demos to their name, and 2006 saw the release of the group’s EP Butterfly. A few of the songs from Butterfly would later find their way onto the group’s only full-length so far, Grind Culture. Only the covers of Terrorizer (“Fear Of Napalm”) and Nasum (“Shadows” — which added to that immense pile of covers for that song) didn’t make the full jump. Grind Culture is a seventeen-song hit spread over forty-two minutes, and the split with Distaste marks the band’s most recent sign of recording life since that release.
The split — which has been effectively titled Split — consists of eleven songs. Rotten Cold pick up four, all songs from their 2012 release Grind Culture (which should provide a new outlet for those songs for us at least, as I don’t think I had crossed paths with that release prior), and Distaste pick up the other seven.
The gentlemen of Rotten Cold have contributed some longer and more fully fleshed-out songs, with two of them nearing the two-minute mark and the last one going over three minutes easily. They shift somewhat from a straight-on hardcore punk/grind into deathgrind groove territory, and actually, I could see them providing a lot of entertainment for people who enjoy Misery Index. They have the same grind-riff sensibilities, and the drums are a sheer bombardment in the opening song “Ghosts”.
“All You Got” feels like a song that tears itself apart at the halfway mark, the first minute being a punk song and the second half going into fully formed buzzing-saw death metal territory. Rotten Cold’s vocal delivery is a recognizable multi-pronged assault, where you have multiple members yelling over the top of each other. The mid-range shouts are almost militaristic in their precision, and the higher screams are rough and filled with grit. There is a set of low, death gutturals that appear in the most traditional grind song the band contribute to this split, “Great White”, and the song has just as many rows of teeth as an actual shark.
“Pretend To Know”, which has been both the closer for the Grind Culture release and this split, makes three minutes and thirty seconds disappear like flash paper. Once past the slow and bass-heavy intro, the song sends off Rotten Cold’s section of the split screaming and on fire, just as fast as it began — which basically lays down the challenge for Distaste to try and hang up with on the back half.
Distaste pick up the ball and hit the ground running by immediately kicking that piece of shit into orbit. The band hit this split sounding like the apocalypse come to Earth for the first few tracks, just a relentless maelstrom of guitar and drums with people yelling over it. I may not understand the language, but the emotions are universal, which means I can ballpark this and say that, much like they were on their 2013 release Black Age Of Nihil, Distaste are not pleased…about a lot of things.
The pairing of “Held” and its follower “Heilig Rechteck” is enough to grind one’s face off all by themselves. The two songs feel like one grander movement of quick-moving, convulsive riffs and a battering of blast beats to propel the whole affair forward. Both songs flying by at about a minute thirty means the one breather between the two feels like a super-quick break before traipsing into the second movement of the same song. Those two songs alone are almost fiery in their playing, and there are still five other tracks to help pulverize you if you weren’t already a puddle after Rotten Cold’s segment.
Distaste do have a secret weapon in their writing style, and it comes into view during “Konsumgeist” — and that is the band’s love for a slow-moving, bass-grinding song. A lot of grind bands have bassists, but more often than not they’re contributing to the overall aural destruction and providing low-end weight. For two releases now, Distaste have provided at least one song that brings the bass guitar to the forefront, and the overall tone of that bass just beats you senseless. It grooves so slow that for a brief moment Distaste could be a doom band, before they inevitably obliterate that feeling by kicking back into high gear. “Konsumgeist” is the rhythm lover’s song of this split, providing a simpler and slow-going head nod before Distaste kick back into the neck-snapping sort of headbanging their speed of grind requires.
“Unverteilung” and “Kraken” are the bookends of the Distaste section and both are insanely fast songs. “Unverteilung” is the one that rockets this split into orbit by sheer force and speed, and “Kraken” is the song that makes sure it bursts into flame upon re-entry. “Kraken” has this fantastic Armageddon (seriously, it sounds like warfare) of a blast section after the first minute of it; you’ll know, because there is a quick stop before the snare drum gets shattered into a thousand pieces for the remainder of the song.
Right now, the Rotten Cold/Distaste split is available on Bandcamp for name your own price, or ten spacebucks for a fancy looking vinyl, and it could very well serve as the soundtrack to the end of the world by fire and brimstone. But I’ve got one other I wish to share with you guys that also hit around the same time – and that is courtesy of the band W R I T H E.
W R I T H E – W R I T H E
Since we seem to be on world-ending at the moment, I figured we’d touch bases with the project W R I T H E. This bit will be a little bit shorter than the review of the above split, but that’s mostly because W R I T H E’s ep is a five-song salutation to the sound of a train crash.
The man behind W R I T H E is musician Sam Dishington, whom you may recognize as being the now main-drive of the apocalypse-concept album provider Seperatist, whose cover art remains one of my favorites from that year. W R I T H E is a starkly different project, pulling influence from grind, hardcore punk (which Austria and its surrounding regions have provided a lot of recently), and powerviolence, for its shorter songs and damn near impossible to typeset band name. The W R I T H E ep doesn’t have a song on it that clears a minute and thirty seconds, and the first and last songs don’t even have names, instead just bearing the title ‘-‘, which is going to be hilarious when I nominate them for “most infectious” later on this year.
“Silent”, “Malice”, and “Failure” define the actual vocal songs on the W R I T H E ep and all three songs are as fast as they can get, with some pretty solid production. All three hit like a rotary hammer on high. “Malice” has a sharp, static-filled groove about halfway through as it drowns under tightly picked guitars and crashing cymbals, and “Failure” has one hell of a punk-and-grind riff once you weather the initial wall-of-spikes assault. “Silent”, which has the job of really opening up the whole affair, hits like a tidal wave. Everything the project has spills over the listener in about fifty seconds, adding to the “blink and you’ll be left skinless” feeling of the whole W R I T H E ep.
The W R I T H E ep right now is also available as a name-your-own-price jam and is easily worth the half minute or so you’ll spend downloading it. At just the right time and mixed in with your favorite playlist, the W R I T H E songs can detonate like a shipping container of dynamite, leaving a crater in its wake — the only thing the clean-up investigators will be able to say about it will likely be, “It was probably triggered by the song ‘Malice’, seriously, did you hear that track? Holy shit”.