Oblivionized – Nullify the Cycle

Oblivionized

Nullify the Cycle EP
Grindcore Karaoke
Guildford mentalists Oblivionized have been skewing metalheads’ faces a new one for the last few years with their brand of molten brutal technical deathgrind, and following some impressive live shows of late, they’re back with a new EP entitled ‘Nullify the Cycle‘. Oblivionized’s initial output showed promise, but ‘Nullify the Cycle‘ is but a taste of not only what they are capable of, but how far they can branch out too.
The first two tracks are an all-out assault on the senses. ‘The Nullification of Philanthropy’ fades into focus in the first few seconds, menacingly building into a full-fledged attack, which upon its arrival leads to all kinds of dizzying chaos. ‘Cycle of Deprivation’ follows straight-up and again smashes your face six ways from Sunday. Anyone loyal to Oblivionized from their earlier material won’t be surprised, though it’s a definite step-up from ‘Abhorrent Evolution‘. The major surprise here comes on the final song, the EP’s title-track. Beginning at first with some deep growls warped over an ambient, dark industrial noise, the remainder of the song is played out with a slightly trepidating piano melody before clean, haunting vocals sing out the rest of the song. It’s in stark contrast to Oblivionized’s usual sound but it works. The only criticism I would perhaps have is that on a three-track EP, with the first two playing out a tech-death apocalypse, it feels slightly out of place, though you can’t fault the quality of the song.
Oblivionized certainly have the tools to reach the head of their pack. ‘Nullify The Cycle‘ displays a level of brutality and maturity present in bands twice their age, and on this evidence you’d have to say one or two of the bigger extreme labels ought to be having a sniff. And seeing them so willing to spread their wings (on this occasion at least), the prospect of a full-length from these guys is tantalising.
Peter Clegg
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Wadge – Tiki Gods, No Masters

Wadge

Tiki Gods, No Masters EP
Grindcore Karaoke
Anyone who either has a keen ear for diving into the weirder excesses of grindcore, or indeed anyone who was an early visitor to this site may well be aware of Canadian drum-machine surf-grinders Wadge. That description is very real. Although it turns out they’ve been around since 1991, it was only when they released an album on J Randall’s Grindcore Karaoke label last year entitled ‘Grindcore Lu’au‘ that they came to slightly wider attention. ‘Grindcore Lu’au‘ indulged in all manner of Tiki, surf and general island themes with a grind ethic, as well as some pretty tinny production which grated due to the record’s excessive (in grind circles, at least) length. That said, it had some memorable highlights and the ridiculousity does not let up on new release, ‘Tiki Gods, No Masters‘. It should have seen light a couple of years ago as part of a split, but almost got washed away with the tide when Brazilian split partners Dispepsiaa called it a day.
Where its predecessor contained thirty-three tracks, the new release is a simple five-track blast that feels just about right. Everything about this release is concerned with Tiki – if you’ve read into Maori mythology you’ll probably find a lot to do with procreation, and not a frenzied tribe out for blood and grindcore, but Wadge clearly don’t take things seriously, as this EP suggests. The middle track, the instrumental ‘Voyage of the Tiki’ is the only one that allows their surf leanings to fully flourish, but it doesn’t half evoke an image of a grind B-52s. That comes sandwiched between four other tracks of desert island grind, with the title track seeing Wadge state where they’re all about: “Tiki Gods, No Masters/the only life I lead/Surf and grind till I die/For tiki I will bleed”.
The quality of the production, while still not the greatest, is an improvement on ‘Grindcore Lu’au‘, and undoubtedly having far fewer songs on this release makes the gimmick more enjoyable and free of any threat of becoming weary. Wadge remain shrouded in mystery and perhaps that’s why it’s taken a good twenty years or so for their bizarre mix to come to the surface. But ‘Tiki Gods, No Masters‘ is a definitive step in the right direction, regardless of how silly you might find it. And who cares if they find even minor acceptance? This sort of thing was designed to delight the underground and the quirk in you.
Peter Clegg

Wừu – 888

Wừu

888
Grindcore Karaoke

The so-called ‘Wormrot Effect’ is in full swing. Their explosion in the Western world has led to an increased focus on the subcontinent and on South East Asia, and one beneficiary of this appears to be

Wừu, hailing from Vietnam. Even five years ago, you’d be hard pressed to believe the Vietnamese had any sort of an alternative scene, let alone a grind band capable of caving your head in with as much if not more intensity than their Western counterparts.

Wừu only formed at the beginning of the year, and have worked hard just to get their music out there. Its helped them a little that J Randall’s Grindcore Karaoke, seemingly a diamond magnet for underground extreme talent, has picked up on them via grind zine Grind To Death, who produced their debut album ‘888‘, and is now putting ‘888‘ on a pedestal. Keep digging GTD, Randall, and world in general, cos the rewards are phenomenal.

888‘ contains 33 tracks, and most of those come in at around a minute or longer. By any stretch that’s quite lengthy for a grind album, particularly when the recent prime cuts have been leaner at around 20-25 minutes. Thankfully, this doesn’t prove to be an endurance test, something we will touch on shortly.

It starts innocently enough with an electro-rock intro track, ‘Khi những thiên tài xuất hiện’, and wouldn’t sound out of place in a video game. A little strange, yes, but after a minute or so of that, it’s all hands to the pump.Wừu don’t spare much in their arsenal, laying down all manner of blasts, shreds, breakdowns, death metal riffs, punk riffs, screams, growls, pig squeals, yelps and more besides. Tracks like ‘Anophen’ and ‘Chạy Chậm Thôi‘ are harsh, battering ram that pummel and punish, and their death metal slant gets ample airing (Ròi, Thúi Quá, among others).

Every so often Wừu break up the action with Oriental-esque interludes that are seemingly the polar opposite of any of the brutality that precede them. Acoustic jams like ‘Chém Gió’ sit happily alongside their grind compadrés, and don’t hang too long to unbalance the album too much. Some people might think they’re silly and unnecessarily, and indeed, there’s one or two that are just too weird and silly to make sense alongside the general musical theme. That said, the album benefits from them simply because the break in action prevents the tracks from bleeding into one another.

I couldn’t tell you what they sing about, as everything is in Vietnamese. That’s not a bad thing – the vocals are indecipherable enough anyway, that even in English they wouldn’t matter that much. Some of the quirk on ‘888’ might throw the listener a little bit and at the end of the day, Wừu‘s grind isn’t that much different to grind from anywhere else in the world. It just so happens they’re pretty damn good at what they do, especially for a fledgling band. They might not be a household grind name yet, but let’s see if they can build some momentum like Wormrot, or at least get noticed a little more widely and join the current grind elite. In 888, the signs are extremely positive.

Peter Clegg

Download ‘888‘ here (free download)

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Interview with Wừu on Invisible Oranges
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Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair – Contraception

Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair
Contraception
Grindcore Karaoke

Agoraphobic Nosebleed frontman and Grindcore Karaoke head honcho J. Randall is a busy man, as his labels huge range of releases would dictate – see our previous review of surf grinders Wadge earlier this year – but amongst the cacophony of anarchy and tinny production, he’s found a potential diamond here in Scotland’s Wheelchair x4 – or Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair if you prefer.

Originally self-released, ‘Contraception‘ has a theme of young romance running through it. Not your typical grind fare, but then neither was the Scots’ previous release ‘Bald and Dead‘, a concept EP about the life and death of reality star Jade Goody. Cripes. Nevertheless, there’s some interesting ideas floating about here, the near dancable and anthemic opening to ‘Treat Your Woman Right’, with guitarist Stuart Finnie and drummer Bobbie King trading vocals, eventually hitting face melting grind territory; the Thin Lizzy-esque riff to ‘Never Go Dutch’, and the saxophone solo that skronks its way into ‘Be My Valentine’. Never does it lose a sense of speed and aggression though, as they shred and blast their way through twelve tracks at a brisk pace and with brutal menace.

The theme of romance pervades throughout, against a heart of darkness that finally becomes apparent during the closer ‘We All Need Someone’ where Finnie screams ‘we all need someone/whatever the cost‘. The samples accompanying it suggest this is a tale of dangerous obsession. Nevertheless, unsettling as the album seems, despite the initial heartfelt intentions, ‘Contraception‘ is another fantastic record in a cracking year for grind, and ultimately confirms Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair become another impressive string on Scotland’s extreme metal bow.

Peter Clegg

Download ‘Contraception‘ here (pay-what-you-like)

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Review Roundup: Karma To Burn/S.O.S./Gripe

Karma To Burn
V

Napalm

Since reforming, stoner rock legends Karma To Burn haven’t really gotten any flowing momentum to get them back to where they were before they originally split, although ‘Appalachian Incantation’ was an impressive album and among my favourites of 2010. Unfortunately, the aptly named fifth album ‘V’ is a little flat. There’s not much in the way of memorable riffage, although ‘Fifty’ and ‘Fifty-One’ are great desert rock stompers that will get the toes tapping and the heads nodding, but other than that, it’s severely lacking impact, and the vocal tracks, particularly ‘The Cynic’, don’t fit in very well, although the cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Never Say Die’ right at the end is faithful at the very least and provides an uplifting finish. The inescapable fact, however, is that their very best days were left behind a long time ago.

S.O.S.
I Owe You Nothing
Good Fight
S.O.S. is a new hardcore supergroup of sorts, featuring Terror’s Scott Vogel on vocals, and additionally including members of Hatebreed, Agnostic Front and Trapped Under Ice. Debut release ‘I Owe You Nothing’ is a riotous romp through 7 tracks of traditional American hardcore that’s sure to instigate a few circle pits and beatdowns. The fast parts are fast and indeed furious, and the ventures into traditionally hardcore mosh territory are satisfying indeed, particularly ‘Never A Brother’. At roughly 10 minutes long it doesn’t last long at all, and collectively these guys aren’t making anything drastically different from their main concerns. That said, it’s an enjoyable blast and worth a few listens.
Gripe
The Future Doesn’t Need You
Grindcore Karaoke

Finally, we have a slab of raging, grinding powerviolence that kicks some serious ass. Gripe’s ‘The Future Doesn’t Need You’ contains 10 brutally harsh tracks. They keep it interesting through – not every track is a 30-second blast – songs are allowed to flourish, allowing for deviation in the riffs, the tempo and more. As a result, it kicks ass all the way through. The final track here, entitled ‘Universal Stupidity’, pretty much sums up the way Gripe set up their stall – in one way, and one way only – to smash some heads in. And with a closing lyric such as ‘Gripe wins!’, you can’t really argue.

As with every Grindcore Karaoke release, it’s a free download. So what are you waiting for? Get over there and discover for yourself this exciting new band.
Peter Clegg

Review Roundup: Primate/Wadge/Combat Astronomy

Primate
Draw Back A Stump EP
Primative Recordings

Primate is the new ‘supergroup’ (a dreaded term if there ever was one) featuring Brutal Truth’s Kevin Sharp and Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher, among others. They seem to be pitching themselves here as a grind band, but I sense they’re having too much of a good time here to be balls-out grind. There’s a real punk ‘n’ roll vibe going on here too, and the result is a cracking EP that will leave you thirsting for more.

Draw Back A Stump’ comprises seven tracks in total, including a cover of Black Flag’s ‘Drinking and Driving’. The standouts for me though are undoubtedly ‘Hellbound’, with its gang-vocal chorus and Kelliher’s soloing all over it, and closer ‘Reform?’, which provides the EP with a solid blast of surging raw power. Not as vicious as their main projects (or in Kelliher’s case, certainly not as epic), Primate avoid the pitfalls of most supergroups and succeed just by playing to their strengths. Here’s hoping for more of the same.

Wadge
Grindcore Lu’au
Grindcore Karaoke

This is the first release from Agoraphobic Nosebleed mainman J. Randall’s label, Grindcore Karaoke, and it’s something right out of the box. Canada’s Wadge mix drum-machine grind with surf rock (as if you didn’t guess from the title). That doesn’t mean they’re breaking out into Beach Boys covers, but indeed the Hawaiian flavour is prevalent in this record. Just perusing through some of the titles confirms this – ‘That Little Grass Shack’, ‘Pineapple Sickness’, ‘Demon Dogs of Waikiki’ being just a few of the gems on offer.

Indeed, this surf rock/grind combination first becomes truly apparent on ‘Extremity Jet-Planed/Eyes of Crust/Obstinate Erection’ – a three part track which culminates with the first sound of a surf rock riff. It’s a joy to behold and you might want to break out a pina colada as you jive to it. However, the lo-fi production and lack of overall quality starts to weigh it down and at fourty minutes, it is a little bit of a stretch. Still, Randall is giving it away for free, and it is worth checking out.

Combat Astronomy
Flak Planet
Zond

Finally in this round-up, something really out of left-field. This is Combat Astronomy’s sixth release, and it really defies classification. It’s not really metal – though it does have that sort of appeal, given its heaviness.  There’s a heaping helping of jazz spicing things up here and it’s a real mish-mash of elements. I don’t listen to much jazz, if any at all, so I’ll sum up as best I can.

For the most part, it is pretty damn good. It’s not unlike Meshuggah in places, given the somewhat technical aspect of their music. Opener ‘The Stone Tape’ is the best example. It’s a little more restrained that some of the later tracks and the instruments all synchronise well with one another. After that, they let loose with the saxophone and the album unfortunately suffers as a result, in particular on ‘Zona’, which has piano plinky-plonking all over it as well and doesn’t seem cohesive. ‘Flak Planet’ does regain its balance later on with the four-part ‘Inverted Universe’ tracks that close the album, which bring together all these elements to provide a satisfying conclusion.

This is a solid album that is certainly challenging – if you don’t like jazz, you may well hate this. But do give it a listen if you’re of an experimental disposition – you may well be surprised.

Peter Clegg



Combat Astronomy on Bandcamp
Zond Records – home of Combat Astronomy