EDxKEMPER – Cut Her Head And Love Her

edxkemperBack in 1986 when the seeds of grindcore were sown, it seemed to take extreme music to a whole new level. Often with a raw sound and fairly low budget, the fusion of extreme thrash metal and blistering punk sounds in the hands of bands like Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror created something almost beyond music – a form of short and sharp brutality that was utterly visceral. For something that seemed so niche, grindcore flourished with scenes popping up all over the globe. With bands like NAILS keeping it alive in the twenty first century, almost thirty years on from Napalm Death’s genre-defining ‘Scum’, it couldn’t just be written off as a novelty.

Greek grinders EDxKEMPER are absolutely devastating on their 2016 release ‘Cut Her Head and Love Her’, as they mix the brief bursts of noise from those genre pioneers with more of a crust punk aspect and some extreme metal heaviness for good measure. What’s perhaps most impressive here – without anything resembling actual songs – are the production values. Whereas you might expect something of this nature to hang on to some fairly primitive origins – much in the way an early Crass record could be seen as a snapshot of an afternoon – the production/mix on this disc is stunning.

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LIGATURE WOUND – Ligature Wound

Ligature-WoundDeath metal is never easy listening, but it often comes with varying degrees of accessibility and with the best stuff you can always tell where the talent is. This album from Ligature Wound goes firmly against the grain, pushes all the dials into the red and never cares about allowing any kind of melodies – no matter how obtuse – get in the way of the band’s musical art. For it must be considered a kind of performance art, as it’s hard to believe that there will be people out there who’d have enough patience to tackle this debut willingly.

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ASSAILANT / UBIQUITOUS REALITIES – Bringers Of Delusion (split release)

assailant ubiquitous splitA release co-masterminded by two independent labels – Russia’s Symbol of Domination and Costa Rica’s Cavan (the latter still very much in its fledgling stages) – ‘Bringers of Delusion’ brings together tracks from two Central American underground metal bands. Both from Costa Rica, Assailant and Ubiquitous Realities appear at different ends of the heavy spectrum, thus making this disc very much an experience of two halves.

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STRUGGLE MANIFESTO – EP

SM-EPWhen Napalm Death appeared on the metal scene, they sounded like very little that had come before.  Sure, death metal had already begun to establish itself by the mid eighties, but the scene’s earliest acts – such as the most literally named Death – combined their brutal speed with fretboard assaulting lead breaks and other elements most closely associated with the thrash and speed metal of the day.  Birmingham’s Napalm Death were different: they took that speed and aggression and distilled it to its absolutely purest – and often shortest – essence.  With the speed of death metal, but the suckerpunch delivery of hardcore punk, they laid the foundations for what became grindcore. Their earliest works were so frantic and intense that even the original band only stayed together for one side of an album. That LP – 1987’s ‘Scum’ – remains a landmark for the extreme metal/punk subgenre; with its twenty eight tracks delivered in approximately thirty three minutes (a duration bulked out by the title track stretching beyond two minutes), the album was the aural equivalent of being smacked repeatedly with a brick.

Since those days, grindcore has remained a much-loved – albeit marginal – genre among fans of extreme metal.  Few have surpassed ‘Scum’ for intensity; even Napalm Death themselves sounded like they were recycling by the time it came to recording a follow-up.  On their debut EP, Poland’s Struggle Manifesto come close to re-igniting the sparks of excitement first delivered by ‘Scum’, the vinyl release’s five bursts of sound filling a lightning-fast 3:39, all wrapped up in a Catholic-baiting sleeve.

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