I'm in the middle of reading Daniel Ekeroth's “Swedish Death Metal” and rocking out with the antediluvian end of my music collection. At the same time, I'm also completely addicted to the latest Magrudergrind album. Ironically, the grind band from D.C. seem to have completely mastered the “Sunlight sound.”
Magrudergrind is filled with short and sweet tracks that are sautéed with feedback. The album is seething with energy, and it moves like an everflowing stream of grind. I love the guitar sound; R.J. Ober sounds like he's about to rip through the time-space continuum. Traditional grindcore and punk riffs bleed into “old school death metal” guitar aesthetics. Slippery hammer-on riffs, as seen in “Bridge Burner,” directly evoke “Left Hand Path.” Sometimes I hear a riff and imagine the melodic flourish it would get on an Entombed album. I'm certainly not complaining.
Chris Moore shows off some very impressive drumming. The album has quite a bit of rhythmic diversity. Raging speed is interspersed with slower stomps that brings to mind latter day Nasum. “Bridge Burner” is itself a gargantuan swinging groove. If a particular song doesn't sport overly engaging riffage, either the rhythmic mayhem comes to the rescue or the song simply ends. Grindcore has that built-in defense against ADD; the short tracks help focus your attention.
The vocals sound like they are tearing through Avi Kulawy's throat. The lyrics are a clinic in societal outrage and an integral part of the Magrudergrind package. Sitting with the lyrics greatly enhances the listening experience. “Rejecting the Militant Promise” discusses the evils of military recruitment. “Assimilated Pollutants” condemns both gender violence and purveyors of grindcore who have abandoned their conscience. Religion gets skewered, gentrification gored, politicians pillaged and punk “scene” politics are pummeled. This is all enhanced by sometimes comedic samples that break up the proceedings.
There is probably a lot more punk spirit here than I usually imbibe. I dig it – I realized long ago that inside my heavy metal shell there's a punk heart. I even enjoy the elemental hip-hop beats and scratching in “Heavier Bombing.” Magrudergrind don't care about boundaries; “Heavier Bombing” is followed by “Martyrs of the Shoah,” a righteous song that laments the evils of the holocaust and ends with a Yiddish folk tune.
Yes, this was the first Magrudergrind album to grace my ears. I'm well aware of the issues some folks have with the band's direction. I suppose I'm fortunate to have no problem with their progression. I've since checked out both Rehashed and Sixty Two Trax of Thrash. While clearly different in sound, I think they both also rule. As far as I can tell, Magrudergrind have switched out some thrash flavor for Swedish death metal spice and slicker production. I think it all tastes great, but I can see why long-time fans might be upset.
I ordered Magrudergrind along with three other albums through Willowtip's web store. It's an excellent place to buy music – you get albums for $10 with no shipping fee. They send the albums priority mail, which means I get them within 2 days. That's a win. Why buy mp3 albums when you can get the real deal with lyrics for a few cents more?
If I'd picked up this album earlier, it certainly would have been on my 2009 year-end list. So it goes. It's going to take me a while to catch up on last year's metal.
Magrudergrind will be touring this month with Misery Index.