TROCAR – Four Forfeit Digits EP

Advertised as “a love letter to Relapse Records” and inspired by bands like Mortician, this debut release from Arizona’s Trocar really doesn’t mess about. Its four tracks serve up lightning fast sheets of noise where industrial noise collides with the insanity of grindcore, aiming to hammer the listener into submission in record time. Valuing a relentless intensity over indulgence, it creates pure noise without sacrificing tightness or complexity.

Needless to say, it’s all brilliantly ugly. From the moment where a distorted TV set throws out the sound of retro advertising under a sheet of white noise and pneumatic drums kick ‘Grist’ into the highest gear possible, Trocar take everyone back to the formative years of grindcore purism. As the opening verse pummels with a retching vocal underscored by slower, almost deathcore growls, the dual assault sounds even more intense than the first seconds even suggested. With little room for a change in tempo, and absolutely no time at all for any smarter flourishes, this really is all about brutality. As such, it should be more difficult on the ears than it actually is, and yet somehow, even with a limited budget and a tendency to approach everything at full pelt, Trocar actually manage to convey a feeling of scope and depth in under a minute. On the surface, the heavily distortion of ‘Orphaned Organs’ promises more of the same, and indeed, its fastest moments – driven by relentless pneumatics – aren’t so different. However, Trocar show signs of branching out via a taut riff that comes a little closer to the sounds of the most intensive thrash, and of early 80s hardcore. There’s still plenty for the gore and grindcore purists, of course, and the second verse brings back the heavily treated, deeper vocal which is used in a way to offset and upset, whilst the riffs go about their business in the fastest way imaginable. In and out in under a minute, its another musical assault where an insane rhythmic approach is almost everything, but a variety of voices and extreme sounds just about lend a strong enough counterpoint to keep it interesting.

Stretching out a little more, ‘Foreign Body Insult’ makes a bigger feature of the thrash/grindcore riffs, and actually uses a shrill lead guitar in places for extra musical texture. It obviously doesn’t reach for an obvious melody, but there’s plenty to be found in its siren-like tone and descending sounds that works well against the relentless pneumatics. Vocally, too, it’s a track that shows Trocar thinking a little bigger – almost more traditionally, even – when the two styles are used in a call and response, recalling a more extreme version of Craw. The deep growls are the most sympathetic to the music in hand, but the careening, almost panicked approach of the high screech is certainly the more entertaining; it definitely bolsters this band’s desire to absolutely crush anyone who cares to venture into their world. Finally, almost as if giving everyone a treat, a cover of the Ministry classic ‘(Every Day Is) Halloween’ trades in some of the grindcore for a more melodic industrial groove. The opening riffs, heavy on the mechanics and keyboard loops, play out like a super-charged KMFDM which interspersed with grindcore bursts, taking the obvious Ministry bits and twisting them into something more obviously of Trocar’s making. This sets up a brilliant tension before the main verse descends into more of a hard edged industrial groove, but an uncompromising retching voice is often on hand to remind everyone that the true Trocar aren’t so far away. Nevertheless, there’s just enough crossover appeal here to attract those not so much into the grinding elements, and an extended instrumental break where samples compliment the synth pulse certainly pay an effective tribute to Ministry as well the formative years of industrial noise, and bits and pieces on the TVT label.

In terms of listens, this is absolutely brutal. It’s actually made all the more intense by way of its own brevity: Trocar arrive, absolutely drive a relentless noise into listeners’ skulls without pause, and then bow out without a word. It’s like a musical drive-by, except the idea of “music” here – at least by some peoples’ standards – will be marginal at best. Although advertised as a “first demo”, it’s hard to imagine Trocar’s sounds ever being any more polished than this cassette allows. Nor do they need to be; ‘Four Forfeit Digits’ is brilliantly ugly – and those who like it will undoubtedly love it.

June 2022