posted on 7/2007 By:
Though I consider myself a casual grindcore fan, I’m hardly an authority in the field, and I haven’t yet heard a number of the bands considered leading lights in the genre. Such was the case with Birdflesh. Though this Swedish unit has garnered all kinds of acclaim for both their tongue-in-cheek grindcore ravings and for their high-energy live show, I managed to avoid hearing them until I signed up for this review. I’m not entirely sure what the deal is with this edition of Mongo Musicale, as the album was purportedly released last year but was only recently submitted for review here, but regardless I can see why this band has been so hyped amongst grinders lately. I can’t say this disc blew my mind, but it’s a rock-solid chunk of kinda modern, kinda old school grind that’ll please a broad spectrum of listeners.
If that last bit of description sounded a little vague, then…well, it was kinda vague, but let me explain what I mean. Though Birdflesh is clearly composed of skilled musicians who aren’t limited to the one-tone musical palette of truly traditional grindcore like the early works of Napalm Death and Phobia, they also retain the snotty humor and direct, artless aggression espoused by their earliest forbearers. Mongo Musicale is, at 25 tracks and 35 minutes, is a fairly long exhibition for a grindcore album, and though it features plenty of straight-ahead blasting (“Wigdestroyer,” “Arabian Jesus,” “After Ski Obliteration,” “Columbian Tie,” “Day Hell Came to Town,”) this disc’s highlights really come during its more humorous turns. Though the usual goofy sample and gibbering/caterwauling vocal shenanigans are afoot on tracks like “Friendly Call,” “Nightgrinder” and “Victims of the Cat,” Birdflesh also manage a few moments of genuinely clever parody. “Crocophile,” for example, sees guitarist Achmed Abdulex lift wholesale the chorus from The Sex Pistols’ “Holiday in the Sun” before the band dives into a blastbeat, while the “Dancefloor Dismemberment” incongruously pairs a mock dance beat with a Tom G. Warrior “ooo!” sound before breaking up a furious grind section with a sing-song flute lick. The songs themselves are decent enough for the most part; though Birdflesh's songwriting ability isn’t incredible, they churn out a varied enough set and enough captivatingly aggressive beats to keep your fingers tapping frantically on whatever surface happens to be at hand.
This effect lasts through the album's running time, but fades quickly afterwards, and that's my largest complaint about this one. Though I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s Maryland Death Fest, I managed to miss out Birdflesh’s set there, which I’m frequently told was one of the best of the festival. If nothing else, Mongo Musicale has caused me to deeply regret skipping out on their performance, and I certainly recommend it to grind fans. That said, I’m not sure I’ll be returning to it particularly often. Though both quite funny and quite brutal, I can’t help but feel that Birdflesh’s music is a wee bit more faceless than I prefer. If these guys could up the idiosyncrasy content of their tunes a little bit, I’d be falling for them hook, line and sinker. As it is, I will watch their progress with a good—but not great—deal of interest.
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