CORRUPT MORAL ALTAR – Patiently Waiting For Wonderful Things EP

A band who’ve previously given the world songs like ‘Insect Politicians’, ‘Politics Is A Bargaining Tool Between Beggars’ and the especially chipper ‘Destroying Everything You Believe In’, Liverpool’s Corrupt Moral Altar have carved out a career out of being especially provocative. Their 2020 EP ‘Patiently Waiting For Wonderful Things’ continues their trend for musical assaults combined with razor-edged lyrical imagery.

Its five songs are brilliantly heavy, but definitely a touch more varied than parts of 2017’s ‘Eunoia’. There isn’t always as much of a platform for their previous Nails-influenced brutalist hardcore (as heard during tracks like ‘Crime & Disease’ and ‘Engineering Consent’), but there’s still more than enough of it to assure fans that CMA haven’t wimped out in any way. It’s more a case of having shifted slightly further towards the metallic edged riffery of tunes like ‘Five Years’, and this can be seen as a good thing, as the more moderate pace in places allows the guitar riffs far more of an opportunity to deliver something truly massive.

An instant attention grabber, ‘Cathedral of Porn’ churns out a downtuned and heavy sound combining the hardcore elements of bands like Living Sacrifice with the tones of Max Cavelera circa Soulfly’s ‘Enslaved’. Within three bars, this sets up the sound of a band you don’t want to mess with, and that’s before the scratchy vocal arrives. For the bulk of these three minutes, Corrupt Moral Altar wield the very best hardcore riffs, creating a brilliant showcase for their extreme punk/metal hybrid sound. That would be enough to set up this EP as an uncompromising work, but there’s still time enough for an absolutely insane grindcore fury used effectively as a centrepiece. In many ways, ‘Cathedral of Porn’ demonstrates pretty much everything within the band’s musical armoury…and better than ever before.

With a trail of feedback leading straight into ‘You Smell Expensive’, there’s no time for listeners to gather their thoughts before the next onslaught of riffs emerge, and this number takes the slow, pounding metallic edge to extremes. For several bars, their command of a sledgehammer riff seems absolutely unshakable, before finally shifting the hardcore breakdowns into brilliant grinding guitar work underscored by a chugging bass. Having set a couple of superb riffs in place, they appear to then chuck those away in favour of a grindcore/hardcore mix that takes the best bits of Dillinger Escape plan and later period Napalm Death, thoroughly putting everyone and everything through an intensive experience. There are some great musical hooks here: that aforementioned downtuned groove is superb and the sledgehammer riffs show off some great tones throughout. Moving into ‘Maximum Bastardry’ a dual vocal mixes scratchy hardcore shouting and death metal grunts against the kind of tune that Cancer Bats might have offered in their earlier days. Some might find this too commercial, even though it’s far from lightweight. Those narrow minded listeners will certainly get some consolation from the number’s second half where the hardcore punk drops into an oppressively deep grinding riff and the death inflected roars take over completely. As a complete performance, it rivals the opener in showing how broad this band’s set of extreme influences are and how they’re able to switch between the aggressive styles with such fluidity.

Stretching out further than ever before, ‘Spirit Breaker’ kicks off with a Faith No More-esque instrumental piece where clean tones and jazzy moods draw the listener into a world of easy listening art rock. Having given everyone just long enough to relax, the drums pierce everything with a pneumatic riff and the band once again launch into some insane grindcore intents. Having reminded everyone that the old style CMA is never that far away, more Dillinger styled ugliness mangles its way toward the inevitable climax where throat roaring vocals and speed driven rhythms are everything. There’s a playfulness here that calls back to ‘Enoia’ in the way that the band are completely restless, yet impressively tight at all times. It’s up against some stiff competition from the opening track, but this really captures most of the band’s moods and influences in one (in)direct hit and with set closer ‘I Am An Ocean of Wisdom’ mixing hardcore moods with weird post-rock bendiness before exploding into some absolutely insane grindcore, ‘…Wonderful Things’ feels like a truly complete experience despite only clocking up seventeen minutes worth of glorious noise.

Corrupt Moral Altar were never afraid of mixing extreme musical styles previously and for this short release, they seem even more keen to do so. They’re certainly not destined for any kind of mass acceptance, but their fearless nature when it comes to creating a noisy hybrid places them among the more interesting extreme hardcore acts. Yes, the material is…a little more multifaceted and occasionally a touch more accessible, but that doesn’t mean the listening experience is any less intense. If you liked the band before, there’s every chance you’ll like this. If you’ve not yet experienced these Liverpudlian lads uncompromising approach to everything, it’s time to sit tight, hit the play button and hang on for your life…

November 2020