posted on 4/2009 By:
I mentioned in my Captain Cleanoff review that 2009 has been a good year for the gods of grind, with stand-out efforts from genre leaders Napalm Death and Brutal Truth, but I forgot to mention this record, this gem of unexpectedly outside-the-band’s-established-norm grind / power-violence. The mechanical pummeling of Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope has long been a favorite of mine, with its ridiculous tempos and industrial flourishes and all-around mind-bending chaos. For Agorapocalypse, ANb has toned down the “cyber” (and even a bit of the grind, although both are still present in spades), opting instead for an absolutely pounding mix of standard grind with a ramped-up vintage hardcore / thrashcore aesthetic. The digital blast-beats remain, but not at inhuman speeds; the multiple vocal attack remains, made even more relentless by the addition of Salome screamer Katherine Katz; the kick-ass Scott Hull riffing remains; the demented emphasis on porn and drugs and all around sleaziness remains. (Surprisingly, Katz' lyrical contributions are among the most twisted, and considering J. Randall's general griminess, that's saying something.) But the songs are longer, more coherent, more traditionally paced and performed, and the results are absolutely killer. By comparison to the comical triple-digit-tracklist of Altered States Of America, this record sports only thirteen songs, ranging from just under one minute to slightly over three. There’s even a drum solo, or rather, a drum-machine solo.
Agorapocalypse is a departure from the band’s past, so long-time fans may be confounded or, at worse, disappointed, but it’s a departure towards a style that I personally love, and it’s a departure that’s done with such intensity and skill that it’s undeniably good. ANb has made no secret of their love for Slap-A-Ham era power-violence (think Crossed Out, Spazz, and so on), and somewhere between the drum-machine-driven madness of Frozen Corpse and the best elements of that power-violence lies Agorapocalypse. The production is far more polished than those punk efforts, the riffing more complex and more skillfully executed, and as expected, the mechanized drumming gives everything a tighter, less chaotic feel. But the energy remains, the frantic shifts from sludge riffing to punk-fueled madness, and more so than on their previous efforts, the band feels like a band, like a full unit more than just some like-minded (read: equally fucked-up) musicians creating some seriously twisted shit in their spare time.
Also worthy of mention: the artwork on this one is brilliant. The cartoons in the booklet are both comical and disturbing, with each song given its own illustration. (And when you're talking about illustrating lyrics like "Cryo-frozen python stuffed with 70s porn and dope / condoms filled with Quaaludes rammed down its throat / photo of Dennis Hopper throwing your mom the bone,” you can imagine how useful visual accompaniment can be. ANb has a strange fixation with stuffing dope into frozen things, but who am I to judge…)
This record has been on daily repeat for me in the weeks since I acquired it. Hands down a Top Ten of 2009 contender, without question.
You’re born; you do shit; you die. Make sure that some of the shit you do involves listening to this.
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