Wednesday, November 27, 2013

REVIEW: Gruesome Malady - Anthology (India)

Band – Gruesome Malady 
Release – Anthology
Type – Compilation
Label – Self-Released/Independent 
Origin – Bangalore, India 
Date of Release –December 10th, 2010 
Number of Tracks – 19 
Playing Time – 1.1 hours 
Genre  Goregrind

CD 1 -
1. Malodorous Ejaculation 
2. Foul Gases Emanating from a Ruptured Anal Tract 
3. Sodomizing the Infirm 
4. Ingest the Excrement 
5. Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay (Autopsy cover)
6. Lactated on Festering Mammary Pus 
7. Infected With Virulent Seed
8. Molesting the Disemboweled 
9. Fermented Urine Therapy 
10. Embalmed in Fetid Rectal Discharge

CD 2 - 
1. Degraded and Defiled
2. El Ataque Delos Muertos Sin Ojos [Instrumental]
3. Crypts of Ichor/Frenzied Evisceration of Viscous Excrescence
4. Mangled by Rodents
5. Post-Mortal Insemination
6. March of the Mongoloids
7. Aura of Atrophy
8. A Cranium Divided
9. Boneyard (Impetigo cover)

Gruesome Malady were the first band to put India on the world wide grind map, and heralded a micro-movement of a small group of bands playing genres derived from the larger grindcore realm in the years to come. Having made quite the furore in the underground in the past, Gruesome Malady’s Anthology chronicles the band’s career in its entirety, and is a compilation consisting of all their official studio material sans their initial demo release. The first 10 tracks of the compilation are from their torrential debut and sole full-length studio album, ‘Infected With Virulent Seed’. All of the tracks are introduced by a precursory clip from horror movies of various sorts that address and portray perverse and depraved scenarios, well in congruence with the type of music present on this record and reinforce the thematic leanings of the band.

The focal point of all the compositions is very obviously Jimmy Palkhivala’s twisted axe work. The riffs are absolutely abstruse and very unique even within the realm of an already extreme and unconventional genre like goregrind. The sheer nature of the riffs are very interesting – their vector is a sludgy guitar tone that serves to create a rather suppurating atmosphere, and is propelled forward by a sense of extended song-writing that is suffocating and cumbersome on the listener. The riff’s stylistic leanings are itself somewhat evocative of, and seem to borrow ideas from the traditional death metal school of guitar work, but this approach does not stray into deathgrind hybrid territory in any sense, and instead add to the eclectic nature of a given composition, as the riffs are multi-phrasing in any given segment. The sheer moods of the riffs here are destructive and deviant, and have an uncomfortable sense of ominousness and depravity that is simply fantastic. Gruesome Malady does not lazily lean back on either a cyclic song-structure, nor do they rely on repetition in order to reinforce a song-writing idea, which essentially brings the stand out feature of this record to fore - the song-writing is the furthest thing from conventional goregrind.

The structural quality of the riffs are itself pleasantly unpredictable, being a potpourri of rapid chugging (albeit with a strong ear for definitive rhythm as opposed to sterile, percussive picking), note-based syncopation and almost neo-classical leads that as a whole impression upon one as a warped and debased satirization of the pulsating melodicity that is not uncommon in the realm of extreme metal, although in limited and suitable doses. The sudden structural shifts employed by Jimmy is unsettling in a sense, given the felicitous character of the dissonance (‘March of the Mongoloids’ reflects this in a most incredible manner), atonality and consonance within the compositions, when in actuality their usage is nothing short of esoteric and festers upon the ears of the listener. El ataque De Los Muertos Sin Ojos presents all these elements in healthy slabs.

Vikram Bhat’s drumming is a fairly standard blast-beat laden indulgence, changing its pacing, albeit in a subtle manner relative to the tempos ushered in by Jimmy’s guitar conceptions. Although, there is a definite sense of spontaneity, given that the percussion has an arbitrary tendency to descend into drum fills. The tonal impression and blasting quality of the percussive side of things are unapologetically grimy. One may find themselves complaining about the lack of supposed technical and instrumental precision and dexterity in this department, but that is essentially missing the point, given that the punishing atmospheres call for this seemingly off-rhythm and murky approach that serves to sustain the sonic tension. Essentially, the rhythmic pacing of the guitars in conjunction with the drumming is purposefully muddy in order to reinforce the grinding, aberrant and distorted quality of the morass-like compositions.

The production certainly helps in this regard, as it generates a feculent aesthetic that is swamped by the aural abhorrence of the reverb and distortion. The vocals (shared by the manic duo), comprising of the conventional bizarre gurgles, on the other hand, seem to be lost in an otherwise satisfactory mix and are merely random noises amidst the instrumentation, although one may question how imperative they are to the sturdiness of the songs in the grander scheme of things. The guitars sound more illuminated in countenance and pop out of the mix among the songs which were originally released on the Mortuary Hacking Sessions/Gruesome Malady split relative to the songs on ‘Infected with Virulent Seed’ or ‘Blasphemous Beef/Aura of Atrophy’ (split with Patologicum). The two covers, Impetigo’s ‘Boneyard’ and Autopsy’s ‘Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay’ (which the band members’ other project Dying Embrace often covers live) are also very fun listens and rather interesting takes on the originals. The former cover especially comes off as particularly unhinged.

In summation, this is an excellent compilation of what was one of the more unique forces in the goregrind genre. The USP of GxMx’s music is essentially a twisted sense of dynamics that invokes an inherently entropic and eclectic structural approach, distorted by a seemingly disorganized, incomprehensible and chaotic sense of composition. A variety of influences are excellently channeled, such as Mortician, Lymphatic Phlegm, Last Days of Humanity or even Blasted Pancreas but Gruesome Malady ultimately stand proud with an extremely unique sound to their name. The pressings of this compilation were cancelled due to some shortcomings on part of the manufacturer, who instead pressed CDrs and failed to incorporate the casing for a double disc package. However, I do hope that this compilation sees the light of day some day, and is re-pressed for the fans and grind aficionados alike to access Gruesome Malady’s discography in a composite and easily accessible form.

Rating - 9.3/10

Gruesome Malady on Facebook
Gruesome Malady on Metal-Archives

Reviewed by,
Achintya Venkatesh

Sunday, November 10, 2013

REVIEW: Orator - Kapalgnosis (Bangladesh)

Band – Orator
Release – Kapalgnosis
Type – Full-length album
Origin – Dhaka, Bangladesh
Date of Release – February 20th, 2013
Number of Tracks – 10
Playing Time – 41:37
Genre – Death/thrash metal

1. First Born of Sataninsam
2. Kapalrevolution
3. Satanachesh Grimore
4. Gnosis Stained Khadga
5. In Tamas They Dwell
6. Necrocosmic Apparitions
7. Devoid of Dharma (Aghorey Bhyo) [Instumental]
8. Bestial Death (Merciless cover)
9. Rites of Grand Renunciation
10. Last Emissaries of Doom Tantra

Orator arose from the ashes of Barzak, a more primitive black/death metal project which the primary members of the band were a part of until the change in moniker. Three years after their debut EP ‘Dominion of Avyaktam’, the fruits of the band’s hard work are presented on this studio endeavour. Released via Armée de la Mort Records, Kapalgnosis marks the first full-length of the Bangladeshi trio. The etymological meaning behind the title and the overall running theme of the album is imperative to the album experience, and is not merely a superficial subject for the record to frivolously lean back on, but something that adds to the overall theatrical experience of the music. Kapalgnosis is as portmanteau word of two words – kapal and gnosis. Kapal translates into the skull cup possessed by Kāpālikas (and more broadly Aghoris), a non-Puranic, tantric order of Shaivism in South Asia. Gnosis on the other hand denotes knowledge, and thus Kapalgnosis together denote the cranium chalice/skull cup of knowledge.
The trance like intro of the album puts the listener in an almost meditative reverie, with an atmosphere begetted by the trajection of what seems to be an ambient sitar, evoking a feeling of austere. But this feeling of tranquillity is encroached with the first song, ‘First Born of Sataninsam’, which sets the tone for the album in a sense, chronicling macabre Aghoric tales, among other alternative path topics. One immediately takes note of the slight shift in the pacing of the band, which was a more straightforward blasting indulgence on their debut EP in the vein of the percussive patterning of bands like Krisiun. This full length sees the band take on a charging tempo that is comparatively evocative of a more classic death/thrash metal percussive racing in the vein of Sepultura, Master and Merciless, which are quite obviously some of the band’s influences. This works to the advantage of the band, as they’re able to forge their riff ideas in a more controlled manner as opposed to mindless un-fettered tremolo ripping. However, by no means could the music be described as restrained or sterile, as the tone of the drums are punishingly bludgeoning. Essentially, Mephistopheles Warmonger brings forth a dynamic to the band that keeps structural adherence in check while refusing to compromise on the savage nature of the music.
The guitar work is unapologetically syncopation driven, evoking a raw and thunderous textural dynamic that compliments the grotesque realism of the Aghoric dogmas. Tempo shifts and riff ideas are seamlessly executed and blend into the larger creative canvas in some of the more lengthy compositions such as ‘In Tamas They Dwell’. Clean guitar work is sparingly added during appropriate segments of the aforementioned song, as well as the ambitious and eremitic instrumental ‘Devoid of Dharma (Aghorey Bhyo)’. This element serves to add to the layering and illumination of a given track, while presenting fragmented ideas working together in counterpoint. Solos are brief and quite simplistic, perhaps leaving one longing for more in that specific department, but the vitality of the songs as a whole compels one to ignore this shortcoming. Vritra Ahi’s bass work mostly follows the riff idea established by Skullbearer, but adds to the overall cohesiveness and sturdiness of the sound. Independent bass moments are found on songs like ‘Gnosis Stained Khadga’ and others across the album.
The song structures are cyclical, and the number of distinctive, separate riffs is limited within a given song, but the sheer relentlessness of the compositions, driven by the ripping wave-like riffs keep any notions of monotony at bay. The vocals are a primitive, ripped vocal-chords type of indulgence that requires little analysis. Vocal hooks are incorporated within the primeval sonic pillage of Skullbearer’s venomous chants; as the chorus of songs like ‘Kapalrevolution’ or ‘Rites of Grand Renunciation’ effectively reflect. There are less native instruments on this album relative to their debut EP, and is mostly restricted to the usage of subtle flutes that are in congruence with the trance inducing guitar patterning on the sole instrumental track of the album. The band has also added a cover of MercilessBestial Death’ which is simply fantastic.
Lyrically, the band invokes the cultural mythos and mysticism of the land, albeit not by means of a straightforward historical narrative. Instead, they reflect on the more anomalous (some would say morbid) side of the land’s spiritual tenets, and what better dogmatic order than the Aghori sect compliments their menacing and dark hymns? However, this is tastefully done, and doesn’t overwhelm the listener. The sound they’ve forged for themselves is universally relatable amidst these native specificities and culturally-oriented thematic leanings. The artwork is also fantastic, which portrays a Brahmin being decapitated by a maniacal Aghori (with a third eye to boot), and the premise of the artwork can be read inside the lyrics/credits booklet of the album. I cannot stress what an excellent visual compliment it is to the larger thematic premise and rabid music of the album.
In conclusion, the band successfully conjures a death metal sound via a vicious thrash metal percussive channel, which is both gratifying and has high replay value. It might not present the most original sound, but is cohesively executed and to put it simply, very catchy and invigorating, and is stellar by any standards.
Rating – 9.2/10
Orator on Metal-Archives
Orator on Facebook
Reviewed by,
Achintya Venkatesh