Release DetailsLABEL Relapse
RELEASED ON 1/22/2013
...a damn fine grind record, an early 2013 highlight...
This World Is Dead
To my knowledge, Blockheads is the only French grindcore band whose name doubles as a Charlie Brown insult.
But that’s the only thing silly about this.
Formed way back in 1992, not too long after the first wave of grinders blasted onto the scene, Blockheads has released four previous full-lengths and several splits in those twenty years. Culling from the same basic playbook as genre giants Napalm Death and Nasum, Blockheads blends elements of death metal and grindcore together into an absolutely explosive mixture. It’s not wholly original, but it’s absolutely blistering, and that’ll certainly do.
At nearly forty minutes in length, This World Is Dead is positively epic by grind standards, but almost a full fifth of that running time is taken up by the trudging finale, the seven-minute “Trail Of The Dead,” one of the scant few moments of This World that slows below a full-out blasting pace. The other twenty-four songs kick and gnash almost exclusively at maximum speed, with only the slightest exception. Punkish grind riffs fly by, with the occasional more metallic moment emerging from the maelstrom – the catchy, thrashy riff of “All These Dreams...” or the tremolo-picked intro of “To The Dogs” or the crushing groove of “Pro-Lifers,” the last of which is another non-blasting moment and an album highlight. After twenty-four songs crammed into thirty-two minutes, “Trail Of The Dead” is undoubtedly designed as a respite from the madness, but it’s anything but soothing. It’s equally as angry as what precedes it, if only one fifth as fast, trudging and heavily distorted guitars crash in lockstep with the bass, a Swans-ish swansong for a world already proclaimed dead.
Vocalist Xav has a full-throated roar, powerful and seething, and he manages to insert some catchy vocal moments (calling them “hooks” or “catchy” would be incorrect, but they function the same), even in the grind-iest tracks – see the repeated screams of the title in “Bastards” and the same in the blistering sixteen-second “Sell Your Flesh,” or the hardcore-esque gang-chanted bits in “Digging Graves.” Grindcore is often lost upon the uninitiated by virtue of its impenetrable inherent wall-of-noise attack, but Blockheads manages to temper their destruction with enough memorable moments (both in the vocals and the riffing) to leave a lasting impression beyond just sheer velocity and ferocity.
This World Is Dead is Blockheads’ first for Relapse after scattered releases on other labels (most recently Bones Brigade), and hopefully the shift to a bigger company with some increased marketing muscle will bring them greater exposure – this is a damn fine grind record, an early 2013 highlight, and a disc that I predict will see many more spins from me as the year progresses. Don’t let the goofy band name fool you – there is much power within.