Review Summary: The grandfathers of grindcore are still kicking
“Apex Predator-Easy Meat” is a fantastic album that does not adhere to many troupes commonly found in grindcore and it is the better for it. The song structures are varied while still packing a punch, the riffs are memorable and hard hitting, the lyrics are acidic and socially-charged, and the vocals are electrifying.
The album kicks off with its self-titled track. Clean menacing vocals devolve in ferocious howls describing humanity's weakness in everything being handed to them and people riding on the coattails of others in hope of success some day. Under this is tribal drumming and a haunting atmosphere. It is a gripping start to the album.
Following this, the album becomes an ever-shifting monstrosity. There are fast, grinding songs combining tremolo riffing with incessant drumming and manic vocals. “Cesspits” exemplifies this the best with its vicious, catchy riffs and quick drumming. It gains momentum and intensity until the song is bursting with grinding guitars and frenzied drum work . The mid-paced songs combine lightning-fast guitar work over frenetic blast-beats and double bass kicks with massive, sludgy riffs over loud, pounding drumming (“Beyond The Pale” and “Adversarial/ Copulating Snakes").The most memorable track is “Hierarchies”. It combines old-school, thrashy riffing with pounding drumming. The vocals on the track swap between clean chants and an assortment of fevered howls. Atmospheric pieces break up the action with monstrous vocals above eerie instrumentation and tribal drumming. A few songs do very little to stand out (namely “Bloodless Coup” and “One Eyed”). However, they are over in the blink of an eye and do little to detract from the excellent pace and variation on “Apex Predator- Easy Meat”.
The vocal work is phenomenal throughout. Barney's screams and barks sound fevered and possessed while the cleans are eerie and will make one's skin crawl. The lyrics behind these vocals are very nihilistic and take bites at issues in modern society. “Smash A Single Digit” highlights the tedium of the life of an average person in today's society. “Timeless Flogging” tears into this same daily slog calling humans 'instruments' being 'dismantled' with the 'crack of the whip'. “Beyond The Machines” and “Hierarchies” both take a swing at the machine we are a part of and the rules we are under, both set upon us by the leaders of society. The common thread throughout is that humans are subject to the control of others. We should resist and fight back, but we will be swallowed up and shat out of the machine like all before us.
The production on this project is great. Most all instrumentation is on the low-end and the production caters to this perfectly. It clear without forgetting the dirtiness that defines the genre. The lead guitar is loud and grinding. The bass guitar is low-in-the-mix, but its dirty grooves and chugs are audible throughout. The bass jumps at its opportunities to shine during the sludge metal passages. Double-bass kicks and blast-beats pack a wallop. The snare drum sounds crisp. However, the cymbal crashes do not sound very good. That is but a minor gripe in an otherwise solid production job.
“Apex Predator- Easy Meat” is an excellent album coming from a seasoned band. It is well-paced, varied, smart, and packed with energy. Your blood will be pumping and your head will be banging the entirety of this album.