posted on 1/2010 By:
Squash Bowels' previous full-length—2005’s Love Songs—was my introduction to these Polish grinders, despite that they’d been around in one form or another for a decade prior. That disc was the band’s first release for their self-owned Lifestage Productions, and far more importantly, it was a vicious and gnarly kick to the pants, blistering and bloody and blast-happy. This one’s their first effort for Willowtip, and Grindvirus is anything but a step down from Love Songs. In fact, it’s an improvement upon—or more accurately, a refinement of—the band’s chunky, punky grinding.
Grindvirus features a slightly stouter production than Love Songs, and with that, it’s a bit more sonically well-rounded than the previous record. Aside from that slightly sharpened blunt-force attack, this ‘Virus is not a stylistic departure from the gore-dashed grind standard the band has damn-near perfected across their last few discs. It’s not different, merely better. Love Songs pushed these Poles above the pustulant pack through quality songwriting; Grindvirus continues that trend, with tracks like "Child Victims," "Wriggler," the title track and "Abhorrently Stinking Rich Man" among the album’s standout moments.
As with Love Songs and its predecessor (2004’s No Mercy), there’s more depth to Grindvirus than just straight medical-dictionary-quoting gross-out gore-grind. Artur’s vocals alternate between high screeches, natural gutturals and the occasional low burp that traditionally defines this sub-sub-genre, and he uses them all effectively to keep the music from becoming one-dimensional. (Biographers note: he also pulls double duty as bassist/sometime vocalist in more political grindcore unit Exit Wounds, whose most recent record was another solid slice of Polish grind. Also for biographers, guitarist Andy and new drummer Melon are both alums of defunct death metal act Damnable, who appeared on Relapse’s Polish Assault collection a decade ago.) Like their counterparts on Love Songs, Grindvirus’ virulant riffs are memorable, well-written, chunkier, simpler and yet more destructive than many of their busier peers. In listening, it’s a testament to the band’s songwriting ability that the record never wears out its welcome, despite that Grindvirus rarely grooves, rarely slows, opting instead for a consistently pounding tempo that could get monotonous in the hands of a less-fun grindcore outfit.
Grindvirus puts Squash Bowels firmly atop the gore-grind body pile, alongside the likes of Regurgitate (whose Sickening Bliss effort a few years back filled me with equally gory glee). This one's the final nail in the coffin of 2009 grind, and it’s perfectly rusty and sharp.
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