Kluster Fuck – Crazymaker
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Label: Wooaaargh Records
I love the absurdity found in underground grindcore (as if there was any other kind of grindcore) almost as much as I do the music. There’s the constant onslaught of noise, unintelligible vocals, hilariously short songs, and some of the most creative names in heavy music. Copenhagen’s Kluster Fuck, for example, may have one of the most appropriate (oh the irony) names in the history of grindcore, particularly since it describes their sound so perfectly.
Kluster Fuck’s debut full-length, Crazymaker, is full of fast, brutal bursts of audio violence similar to Insect Warfare, Cloud Rat, and Wormrot. The songs are short, brutal, ridiculously fast, and yet leave a lasting impression; I seriously checked myself for mosh pit injuries after listening to this album. Kluster Fuck manage to change up the pace enough that Crazymaker avoids monotony, especially evident in the one-two punch of the final two tracks, aptly named “Fast as Fuck,” and “Agonizingly Slow.” The former is indeed “fast as fuck,” full of blasts and shrill screams, while the latter slows things down to an almost doom-like pace in comparison, and clocks in at a whopping two minutes.
Although there are a lot of cymbals in the mix, something fairly typical of this genre, it doesn’t distort the rest of the sound too badly, since you can still pick out each instrument with little difficulty. There’s plenty of overdriven bass as well, mixing nicely with the heavy guitar riffs, and high-pitched vocals that cut right through. Vocally, I’m reminded of the higher-pitched shrieks from Wormrot, both in terms of pitch and ferocity.
With Crazymaker, Kluster Fuck are poised to make some serious waves in the underground heavy music scene, and will certainly earn themselves an army of fans, of which I now gladly consider myself a member.
Undawn – Justice Is…
Location: Dedemsvaart/Overijssel, Netherlands
Hey, do you remember when labels like Ferret Records and Trustkill Records pumped out metalcore bands like it was the early 2000’s version of the scramble to find the next Nirvana? At that time it was difficult to find a teenager that didn’t know who Atreyu were, and mixing the melodic death metal of the Gothenburg scene with tough-guy swagger of hardcore was all the rage. Well, if you didn’t know, metalcore is still here, and no, I’m not talking about the heavier strain called deathcore, or the tech-obsessed djent bands either. In the case of Undawn, I’m talking melodic guitar work, yelled verses and sung choruses, and savage breakdowns, it’s all there. They play a melodic version of metalcore that definitely owes a lot of its sound to the like of In Flames, as well as American bands like Times Of Grace.
Melodic lead guitars abound, punishing breakdowns, hardcore style vocals, everything you could want from a metalcore album can be found right here, even a cameo from Björn Strid from Soilwork! One pitfall of the metalcore genre that Undawn manage to avoid is over-emphasis on the breakdowns; while there are plenty to be had throughout the album, it never feels like the rest of the song is simply filler between breakdowns. The breakdowns never feel like they were tacked on, since they always feel like a natural part of the progression of each song; still, the yelled verses/sung choruses can be a bit too formulaic.
Had Justice Is… come out in 2002 or 2003, Undawn could have absolutely taken the world by storm, sadly, by now the style is slightly dated. After all, there were more bands playing this exact sound at the turn of the century than you could shake a stick at. Nevertheless, Undawn play with a sense of sincerity, and the chemistry between instruments is a perfect mix. If you like your metalcore melodic, with nods to the Swedish melodic death metal scene, Justice Is… can certainly satisfy your craving.
Conflicted – Under Bio-Lence
Label: Sick Bangers
Chilean Thrashers Conflicted have returned with their sophomore full length, and it is really a great example of why, in 2015, creating truly outstanding thrash metal requires more than just making a fun, consistent album. While Under Bio-lence is exactly that, fun and consistent, with bands like Toxic Holocaust and Municipal Waste out there tearing it up, not to mention old guard acts like Exodus and Overkill writing their strongest albums in decades, being a simply good thrash band isn’t enough to rise above the pit any more.
Conflicted’s songs are eminently moshable, well-constructed, and never dull, but that doesn’t keep it from feeling a bit paint-by-numbers. It’s like mid-years Municipal Waste (see: Art of Partying) with less punk and more shouty-shout vocals reminiscent of Machine Head’s Robb Flynn and more noodly, Hammett-esque lead work. It’s a mash-up of a bunch of ideas that have been done before and done a lot.
There are stand-out moments, however. “Neuronal Riots” has a great sense of groove and some of the best thrash riffs I’ve heard this year. While it may not be to everyone’s liking, the rawness of the production is refreshing in the face of a thrash scene that, in many respects, has lost a lot of the punishing lack of restraint in the studio that made many older thrash albums the classics they are. Would Darkness Descends be the classic it is held up as if it were produced to crystal-clear perfection, Andy Sneap-style? I think not.
In the end, Under Bio-lence is a good thrash album. Have I heard better in recent years? Absolutely, but Conflicted have created a document that is consistent, never boring, and guaranteed to get any thrasher’s blood pumping. Sometimes, that’s enough.
Shaving the Werewolf – The Pissing Link
Location: Oslo, Norway
Label: Negative Vibe Records
With just about twelve minutes of run-time, this quick’n’dirty EP is the third release from this band, and their second one this year. Part grind, part noise, part synthpunk, they have something of a Pig Destroyer meets Mind Flayer feel, with a little DNA from Retard-O-Bot contributing to their humor and electronic aspects.
The songs bubble and writhe, rarely holding to a rhythm for more than a few bars, bouncing around, being outright silly, and then throwing in a hard beating when your attention might start to wander. “Earth Song” and “Death of the Dying Corpses of Death” share the positions of being the longest and most fleshed-out tracks, “Do Mind If I Don’t” is a burbling go at senselessness, and the title track takes a little from both avenues while holding down one of the EP’s steadiest riffs before popping out into a final death burst.
Noisy and practically allergic to taking itself seriously, this EP might have some appeal to fans of electronically-powered grind, though it doesn’t reach the intensity of Agoraphobic Nosebleed or the coherence of the more run-of-the-mill bands in that grouping. While it may not hold attention for too long, the band is pretty clearly getting engaged and creative with their music creation, which earns them a few points. Hopefully they’ll be able to hold things together long enough to eventually generate a full album, but while they hash out their style, there’s some interesting stuff being churned out of their cacophony.