Review Summary: *harmonic squeal*
Much like any other creative process, musical output benefits from a shake up of the formula every now and then. Uness something comes along and disrupts the standard approach, we mightn't discover a superior alternative. Sure, grindcore isn’t exactly a genre that's known for its diversity or experimentation, and there's certainly no shortage of homogenised grinders eager to reinforce the banality; what’s required is a catalyst like the Washington D.C. trio Magrudergrind, a band who are willing to challenge long-forged perceptions with fresh ones. After a staggering 6 years since the Crusher
EP, the band have stepped up and returned with their latest album II
What's particularly striking, given just how effectively the band wholly envelop your attention, is that they're not incorporating anything radically different from what you'd expect of grindcore-meets-powerviolence progeny. Pummelling drumming, overdriven riffage, hoarse screams and a fuck you attitude - all of it oozes from every crevice and the whole package is wrapped neatly in a blanket of high tempo chaos with the usual grindcore brevity. Subtlety is the reason II
in particular stands out, down to the organic way the band introduce frenzied diversity into their sound. The rhythmic changes throughout are a prime example of this. With beat divisions and feels adjusting regularly, the album pulses and throbs, dragging your attention back each time. This asset comes as a surprise given that the rhythm section is lacking a bass player entirely; in itself an odd exclusion. Nevertheless, II
’s low-end feels thick and chunky, filled to the brim with blast beats and the occasional low grows, while trebly guitar riffs soar over head.
Never allowing their sound to grow stale, Magrudergrind intercut their intense, speedy approach with moments of lethargy. Sections featuring slower, palm-muted heaviness are standard fare for the powerviolence genre in some respects, however the addictive, lurching quality of ‘Unit 731’’s opening is an atypical addition that fits snugly amidst an otherwise aggressive maelstrom. For all the band's originality, tracks such as ‘Relentless Hate’ and 'Husayni/Handschar', making use of low growls and a heavier approach, recall grindcore forefathers Napalm Death. Additionally, the cliché, ear-piercing harmonics of powerviolence are sprinkled here and there, often used as a transitioning tool between tracks. Neither of these inclusions are necessarily problematic, but instead they ground the band firmly within their tandem genres. In the end, Magrudergrind’s II
simply demonstrates the result of 3 capable musicians coming together to write thoughtful material that makes an effort to be engaging, proving that no matter the genre, quality bleeds through.