Release DetailsLABEL Season of Mist
RELEASED ON 2/19/2013
...regardless of where it falls in the spectrum of genre divisions, what is most important is that it’s a skull-cracking beast of a disc...
The Art Gospel of Aggravated Assault
Way back at the beginning of three months ago, we here at Last Rites did a little round-up feature of records we were most looking forward to in 2013. My contribution to that article was this disc, Complete Failure’s The Art Gospel Of Aggravated Assault. ComFail’s last album, 2009’s Heal No Evil, was a monster of a disc: a year-ender for me, and a violent mash-up of hardcore wallop and grindcore blast. More specifically, it was the sound of the band’s anger at the music business and former labelhead Steve Austin in particular. Back then, ComFail fed off the mishandling of their first disc (2008’s poorly-produced Perversions Of Guilt) to fuel the fury of the follow-up, and they did it to brilliant results. Heal No Evil was self-recorded, self-produced, self-released; a year later, after it was distributed free via Ye Olde Internete, it was picked up and re-released by Relapse. The album’s birth was a struggle, but the result was great, and the response was appropriately positive.
It would appear that the creation of The Art Gospel was no less aggravating, no less convoluted. An update to the band’s website from almost a full two years ago states: “Hard times persist in the art. ... The entire new album is being rewritten from the top. Every song played live since February until now will never be played again.” The Art Gospel’s album title is given, two years before it would see eventual official release on the band’s third label (one for each album so far), and then the band adds this: “It will be the fastest hardcore album of all time. Hands down.”
I can’t verify that it’s the fastest ever, though portions of the title track and “Head Hanger To Be” do fly well within grindcore speeds. And in truth, I wouldn’t care if it was or wasn’t – in hardcore, anger trumps speed any day (every day, actually), and thankfully, The Art Gospel is Evil’s equal in emotional upset.
Gospel opens with the sounds of James Curl’s bass churning through the doom-ish intro riff of “Mind Compf,” before the band enters, sandwiched between a tribal beat and Joe Mack’s growls; and then, the whole thing finally explodes into a blast-beating frenzy. (Curl is both the recording bassist and guitarist – with the loss of Erik Wynn in 2011, Curl moved from bass to guitar, and bassist Mark Bogacki of Storm King was added for live performances.) From there, The Art Gospel never shrinks back – there are moments of straight-ahead hardcore groove (the last bit of “Errant Social Mile Marker”), pure grinding explosion (the aforementioned title track and “Head Hanger To Be”), and scattered instances of a slow and dissonant trudge (“Drag Migrator”). Those latter sections are rare, with only “Drag Migrator” being truly successful – the slower introductory half of “Hero Of The Church Herd” is the album’s weakest moment, it’s only stumbling point. Mostly, The Art Gospel trades in those first two factors, just as Heal No Evil did. At heart, it is hardcore, and it is fast. But because it’s as fast as it is, its hardcore gets pushed well beyond the style, well into the realm of grind, and then it’s skillfully brought back again. It’s two different degrees of furious, and it’s in that push and pull that The Art Gospel achieves a masterful tension and release, the desired destruction and the necessary respite from the same. And in the long run, regardless of where it falls in the spectrum of genre divisions, what is most important is that it’s a skull-cracking beast of a disc, just like its elder brother.
A further update from only a few weeks ago says “11 new songs. 2014,” so it would appear ComFail has already begun the undoubtedly arduous and overly complicated process of bringing us their next offering of unbridled anger. On one hand, I hope it doesn’t take too long, but since these guys turn real-world rage into grinding hardcore glory, maybe I’ll hope for a few setbacks to piss them off just that much more...