Brianblessed – Things To Make And Do
Location: Knottingham, UK
There have been a multitude of humorous bands come out of the grindcore sub-genre, a genre which is already known for ridiculous speed and extremely short songs. Take Knottingham’s Brianblessed, for instance; named after the British actor of the same name, the duo have written songs with titles like “Drilldo” and “Dubstep Wankers.” Now they have unleashed a new atrocity on the senses in the form of this year’s EP, Things To Make And Do.
Though many grindcore bands tend to only have humorous song titles, Brianblessed take it a step further by adding some goofy vocals and musical interludes into their otherwise fairly straightforward grind. With songs like “Selfie Stick Sodomy” and “Crapoeira,” you get the feeling that the guys don’t want to be taken too seriously. Musically, they mainly play some pretty fast, furious grindcore with some old-school death metal influences, as can be heard on the fierce album opener “Bonnie Langford VS Shit Bastard.” The lack of bass isn’t super noticeable, as the guitar has enough low-end to really fill out the sound, similar to Pig Destroyer. “Luddite” has a pretty evil-sounding riff reminiscent of the early material by Deicide, and it definitely had me banging my head along to the beat.
For the most part, Things To Make And Do is a pretty enjoyable grindcore record, but there are a couple flaws that keep it from being great. While I enjoy seeing a band not take themselves too seriously, the humor on this EP can be downright irritating (and, ultimately, distracting) at times. The call-and-response vocals on “Selfie Stick Sodomy” made me want to punch things, and the melodic bits on “Cavernous Tooth” sounded like a cock-rock version of Torche. Also, bearing in mind that this IS underground grindcore, I feel the overall record would have benefited from a slightly cleaner mix, and maybe have the cymbals and kick-drums taken down a notch or two. Still, there is plenty to like here and, for the most part, Brianblessed have made a pretty fun record. Not quite a must-have for your grind collection, but definitely worth a spin or two.
Beneath the Storm – Lucid Nightmare
Label: Argonauta Records
Have you ever wondered what Alice In Chains would have sounded like if they had tried their hand at funeral doom, while listening to Crowbar and Acid Bath? Probably not, but that’s exactly what Lucid Nightmare sounds like. Beneath The Storm is a mix of all of the above sounds, complete with yarling vocals (like those of Eddie Vedder, Scott Stapp, and just about every 90s grunge/alternative singer) and stoner-approved fuzzy riffs.
I can honestly say that I did not expect the sounds that came out of my speakers when I hit play on this release. The riffs are melancholy, melodic, and crushingly heavy, but the vocals are somewhere between Layne Staley’s (Alice In Chains) lower register, and Sully Erna, of Godsmack. The vocals were a real shock, and though it’s not really my favorite style, it works pretty well on songs like “On High In Blues Tomorrows” and “Nightmares Overcome,” which have some pretty bluesy/sludgy Crowbar-meets-Eyehategod voodoo going on. Fans of the stoner doom genre will absolutely eat this record up, and rightfully so, as I got actual goosebumps during some of the riffs; on the other hand, if you’re looking for a little more death/doom type stuff, the vocals will be a pretty big buzzkill for you.
The tone throughout Lucid Nightmare stays pretty consistently sludgy, with just enough cleaning up to make this album a contender for just about anything else in a similar vein that might be on a bigger label. The vocals get a little tiresome after a while but, again, if you like the “soulful redneck” croon that Eddie Vedder made famous, this shouldn’t be an issue, since the riffs all rule.
Lightsabres – Hibernation
Label: Medusa Crush Recordings
Hibernation is this year’s entry into the string of annual albums from the Swedish one-man band of Lightsabres. If you haven’t heard one of the earlier entries, just imagine stoner rock merged with easy-going punk, and you’re on the right track. What Hibernation brings to play is eleven more tracks of that fusion (or twelve of ’em, if you go with the cassette reissue it’s getting from Medusa Crush Recordings) with a vague wintry theme, and some refinement of the style. Fuzz on the guitar and vocals remains a dominant force (possibly as a means of masking the kinda lo-fi nature of the recordings), and the drumming still avoids anything too adventurous, but feels as though the songs are benefiting from better planning and tighter arrangements.
Sure, some looseness and roughness is to be desired when dealing with punky stoner rock, and those qualities are still there, just polished up a bit. Lightsabres also gets to show off a capability for turning out calmer tunes with more of a poignant leaning, as in the restrained chords of “Cascades of Blood” and “Whisper Softly”, touching notes similar to the aching crooners which crop up every now and then in Uncle Acid‘s catalog, though with less distortion on the singing. It’s in these slower parts that I think the album’s best moments lurk, though I can’t say how much of that is just relief that the musician behind it has chosen to show tricks up his sleeves beyond the high-speed fuzz-wall antics of earlier releases.
At approximately forty minutes of music, it feels like a fuller album, too; earlier stuff ran through from start to finish too quickly to really build up a presence, but the pacing of Hibernation lets it not only craft one successfully, but to show different sides once that’s done. All in all, I’m quite impressed with the developments shown here, though it is kind of amusing that the lively musical style which has largely defined the band so far will seem like a minor presence to listeners coming in on this one. Even so, I’d give it a firm recommendation to anyone looking for a capable fusion of punk/doom/stoner/psych/whatever else.