When In Hell
posted on 9/2009 By:
A rapid fire review for a suitably rapid fire record... Ah, grindcore...
Minnesota grind/punk trio Ambassador Gun began in 2002 under the bulkier moniker of A Second From The Surface. In either of their two incarnations, they've released three previous full-lengths before dropping When In Hell. I haven’t heard the earlier efforts, but what When In Hell purveys is a polished and more accessible take on the grind standard. The band’s hardcore influence is readily evident, as is the now expected death metal influence and a dash of straight-up classic thrash. The songs are still short; they’re still blast-filled, but not so much so as many of their grinding peers. The vocals alternate between a crusty snarl and a throatier bellow, handled in turns by bassist Sieler and guitarist Olsen, and in more places than not, the lyrics are actually discernible. Also, in various parts throughout the record, a distinct sense of melody crops up both in the riffing ("Reprisal," "Steady Diet") and in the song structures ("When In Hell," "Taylor Reign"), giving When In Hell a leg up on the usual "grind is unmemorable" argument. All in all, Ambassador Gun sounds like a lighter, thrashier version of the likes of Splitter.
When I say "lighter," neither reader nor band member should take that as a negative—When In Hell is a whirlwind, but it’s not as pummeling as Mumakil, as blistering as Nasum, as raw as Insect Warfare or Magrudergrind, nor as grind as any of those. It incorporates its outside influences towards streamlining grind’s abrasive tendencies, making the Ambassador’s music more immediately palatable than any of those bands listed above.
I’ve said this twenty times over now: 2009 has been a serious grindfest. As good as this is, Ambassador Gun will not find themselves on my year-end list, beaten out by the undeniable masters. But they have achieved three things with this release: one, they’re arguably a great place for non-grinders to introduce themselves to the wonderful madness of grind; two, they are a band I’ll keep my ears pointed towards because this listen was a most pleasant one; and in turn, three, they've made a solid record.
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