Southwest Doom Violence
posted on 7/2012 By:
Don’t quite believe everything you read, kids – this one’s not really doom.
But it is violent.
Denver-based grindcore trio Catheter last released a full-length in 2005. That disc, Dimension 303, was a fun and appropriately aggressive take on the grind-standard sound, a little bit crusty, not unlike Phobia or earlier Napalm Death, all with some dashes of the more recent Swedish masters like Nasum. In the space between then and now, Catheter has taken a few steps forward, and Southwestern Doom Violence slips one small step back. Though it exceeds its elder in some capacities, overall, Southwestern Doom Violence falls sonically short of Dimension’s enthusiastic anger, though that’s not to say that it’s not enjoyable.
What Catheter has altered for the better is their guitar tone – 303 was no slouch, but the tones on Violence are gnarly and razor-sharp in all the right manners, almost Swedeath buzzing and yet grinding all the way. Vocally, Catheter still employs three distinct styles – a midrange bark, a grunted growl and a hardcore shout, all used to great effect to keep the pounding from becoming one-dimensional. Also, thankfully, the band’s penchant for solid songcraft remains intact, and they’ve managed to pull together some great riffs and alternately blasting and swaggering segments throughout Southwestern Doom Violence. The effective album opener (ignoring the introductory noise track “Intro”) “Encapsulation” is exactly that, a microcosm of the band’s attack, sporting a swinging main riff that segues into blast-happy grinding, all with that slicing guitar tone and the band’s signature three-vocal approach. Other standout moments include “Doom To Grind,” which gets extra bonus points for a Walk Hard sample, the punkish “Hypercaine,” and the doom-ish riff at the tail end of “Ingestion,” which is one of the few points where Violence truly treads upon its own middle name. (The swinging, almost stoner-y riff to “Can’t Change Existence” is both another of those few points and another highlight.)
The only factor that knocks Southwestern Doom Violence down a notch is the underwhelming drum production. The performance is certainly punishing, but it's hampered by a live, roomy sound and a dull tone to the snare that I certainly don’t love. The whole of it sounds a little too lo-fi where it could’ve been much more cracking. I get the whole DIY crusty punk ethic, but given how sharp and slicing the guitars and bass are, it’s truly a bummer that the drums feel less developed, that they don’t benefit from the same level of sonic punch.
Nevertheless, production quarrels aside, Southwestern Doom Violence delivers enough of Catheter’s raging grindcore to overcome the dampened drum sound. It doesn’t top Phobia‘s Remnants Of Filth as my favorite straightforward grind release of late, nor does it top the upcoming Afgrund, but Violence remains worth a listen for those particularly attuned to grinding destruction.
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