Review Summary: Intelligent and controlled auditory chaos.
Grindcore is one of those things. It’s one of those things that are so wildly against the norm that people think they’re dangerous, but really that’s the thrill of them. Songs clocking in at under a minute, breakneck tempos (and in the case of Discordance Axis absolutely inhuman vocals) all create a seizure-inducing adrenaline rush. If you’re looking for the equivalent of a 30-second acid trip, you’ll find it in Discordance Axis’ eerie style of grind.
Discordance Axis is actually merely three people: drummer David Witte, vocalist Jon Chang, and sold guitarist Steve Procopio. Listen to any of their recordings, however, and you’ll realize that numbers are not an issue. The band creates a thick, well-rounded sound and write ingenious anti-music sans the typical grindcore blood n' guts lyrics. All the band members are extremely talented. Witte’s drumming is a force to be reckoned with. Jon Chang’s vocals are animalistic and full of an angsty vigor yet unmatched by any human being. Steve Procopio is not only skilled, he deserves massive amounts of credit for being the only guitarist of any kind in this über-violent band.
Consisting of 31 brilliantly composed grind tracks, Jouhou
was released in 1997. While it’s successor The Inalienable Dreamless
was literally an incredible experience, Jouhou
feels more like Jon Chang’s 31-part seething rant with rhythm. For example the 26-second “Eye Gag” starts with spoken words against government’s treatment of human lives, before only 9 seconds of actual song. Surprisingly this doesn’t detract from anything. The songs are intelligent and in fact the feral viciousness is possibly Discordance Axis’ greatest asset. It gives their music an unchained and brutally honest emotion that many bands lack. Jouhou
, in essence, is just raw fury unleashed. The band live should be viewed through night-vision glasses to get the same odd and frightening effect their music produces.
If you listen closely, however, you can still hear hooks and complex individual rhythm patterns within songs. “A Broken Tomorrow’s bouncing ending is a personal favorite. Even past strange tracks like “Nikola Tesla,” a minute of electrical noise with no real music, and the aforementioned “Eye Gag,” it all works. It all fits into Discordance Axis’ subterranean apocalyptic sound. Chang's vocals erratically jump from shrieks on pitches normally reserved for echolocation to gutturals that sound like the feasting of bears. Rabid bears. Witte's drumming is like the wings of a huge raging hummingbird (by this I mean fast), and by some unknown power Procopio manages to hold his own and pound out incredible riffs. For lack of a better comparison, he's like Lonesome George, last of the Pinta Island giant Galapagos tortoises. They're the only ones, but sometimes being alone just means you kicked everybody else's ass. Jouhou
is the auditory equivalent of The Exorcist
; it will scare the living hell out of you, but you’ll enjoy every masochistic second.
To truly appreciate Jouhou
, and grindcore itself for that matter, you have to be able to tap into the pure emotion the band is channeling. If you’re unable to feel the rage of Discordance Axis, then this will be white noise. But if you can force yourself to join in Jon Chang & Co.’s agony, then this is one of the most intelligently emotional records ever written. To get an even better taste, do look into The Inalienable Dreamless
. Until then, enjoy this…or not.