Review Summary: Grind your face to a pulp“This is art, call it sex; we are murderers, the showstoppers, the riot, we are the_Network!”
Guy Kozowyk is a genius. Not only is he in one of the top extreme metal bands that grace the industry but he also started one of the greatest labels for finding other extreme metal bands. I am very happy to say that I ride the Black Marker Activities bandwagon because it has yet to fail me. Architect, Lords, Ed Gein, the Tapdance Extravaganza, these are all examples of exception (and mostly underrated) bands that are signed to this label. It probably only makes sense that the_Network is also one of them.
the_Network (that is not a typo) is a Black Market Activities signed band residing in New Hampshire that blends the pummeling assault of grind with the grungy attitude of punk. This is clearly heard in their opening track that starts with the background noise of your basic show and a punk driven bass line. This is when you really hear a treat: the_Network uses a dual vocal approach. While this is not new news in the world of music, it’s the style of these two vocalists that make this band fairly unique. The primary vocals come from lead Scott White and guitarist Kevin Howley and are backed by Premonitions of War’s own Nate Johnson on bass. To describe the_Network’s vocals would be to take the two vocal archetypes of a demon, one with a high pitched almost obnoxious voice from Howley, and the deep, guttural lows from White. Another thing to note about the vocals is that it seems that they were produced by either two different producers or were done by different methods, as Howley’s voice is very clear and open while White’s is in static as if coming from an older style microphone. This makes both vocalists’ voices standout even more which makes for the music to be fairly off-putting but in all the right ways.
The guitars on this record are also something to write home about. Dissonance, chaos, cohesion, and downright spastic are all many ways on how to describe the twin guitar assault brought out on This Is Your Pigs Portrait. They never relent, they never quit and they sure as hell know how to play as one single and cohesive unit. Prison Letters is a highlight of their musical capability, with it starting with an acoustic intro and then to a downright disgusting breakdown and into the mess and destruction of grind. One thing that the_Network uses abundantly, and to my pleasure, is the use of the Stop/Go technique to introduce new riffs and parts in their songs. It is heard in nearly every song and is quite frankly the only respite you will get throughout the entire listen.
This is an excellent addition to the discography of any listener who considers themselves fans of extreme music. Whatever cons that could be heard on this album are quickly dispelled by the onslaught of dissonance and grind felt throughout the entire listen. Though not for the faint hearted it goes to show that Black Market still knows who to sign and the_Network prove that they are up to the task of creating the ‘grind in your face’ experience and do it damn well better then nearly every other band out there.
In short, this album showcases the very best in grind.