Heal No Evil
posted on 1/2011 By:
Originally self-released in limited quantity in 2009, this second Complete Failure record found itself picked up by Relapse for a Fall 2010 re-release. Entirely self-recorded, Heal No Evil was a conscious effort by the band to distance themselves from former producer Steve Austin and his Supernova Records label—Austin’s muffled work on the band’s first record Perversions Of Guilt met mostly negative reviews (Perversions is a good record, just not a good-sounding one), and the band severed ties with Austin’s label in acrimonious fashion. Taking inspiration from their troubles, Complete Failure is righteously pissed now, more so even than before, and their chaotic blend of hardcore and grind influences is all the better for it.
According to drummer Mike Rosswog (once of Circle Of Dead Children and Austin’s own Today Is The Day), bassist James Curl served as the producer, engineer and general driving force of Heal No Evil, and it’s his bass that opens the disc, low and appropriately gnarly, leading the charge for a few bars before being consumed by the explosion that follows. And it’s that explosion that truly defines the disc. Erik Wynn’s guitar riffs switch from tremolo-picked grinding to atonal squalling to chunky hardcore with ease. And never far behind, Rosswog’s drums push the percussive side into pure pummeling, alternating between moments of blasting and punkish groove. Vocalist Joe Mack’s bark is all hardcore bite, avoiding entirely the grind-standard high/low attack—his performance is far from disappointing, but he’s often just another part of the machine, overshadowed by the absolutely vicious attack beneath.
The kinetic energy on hand is undeniable, between the blasting sections and the copious mosh-worthy moments, Heal No Evil inspires movement—thrashing, headbanging, toe-tapping, whatever. It just grooves; it moves; it rips; it slices; it bashes; it crashes… What else do you want from it? Tracks like the monstrous “Consensual Bereavements” and closer “Detoxicant Clockstomp“ are first-rate, from top to bottom—the former microcosmic of the whole record, alternating between outright grinding and some monstrous slamming riffage guaranteed to get your lazy ass in gear. But the album’s crowning moment of grind-punk songwriting is the two-part “Impoverished Orgasm Liaison,” which begins with ringing chords and a circular tribal beat, almost Neurosis-like in its trance-inducing drive and the album’s least-aggressive moment (even as it still hits hard)… and then the explosion, turning that drive into super-speed blasting and Evil's hardest hardcore-tinged grind riffage, all of which leads directly into the blistering “Clockstomp.”
As good as Heal No Evil is (and it is), it does suffer a bit from the grindcore “one giant song” syndrome, as a lot of the tracks become indistinguishable from one another, a series of serious punk-metal body shots between a few truly knock-out haymakers. (For the most part, those are listed above.) Still, that’s a bit like a recently-KO’ed boxer saying, “Well, I don’t remember each specific punch…” As a whole, Heal No Evil is a blistering mother of a record, even if the songs are often just smaller punishments in a solid overall thrashing.
Even as I ramble on, I admit that I had a tough time pulling together the words for this one—sometimes it’s hard to wrap your head around having your head kicked in. Had I made sense of it, had I given this record the time it deserved a few months back when it first crossed my ears and broke my skull, it would have made my Top 20 of 2010. (Hell, had I heard it in its earliest form, it likely would’ve made my Top 20 of 2009, although a bit further down in that year, with all the other quality discs from way back then.) Heal No Evil is a damn fine slab of grindcore dashed with a sizeable dose of hardcore, or maybe vice versa, and either way, fans of extremely pissed-off punk-fueled ugly metal should definitely hear this.
In every way, Complete Failure never sounded this good.
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