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

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Reviewed by,
Achintya Venkatesh

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