Emerging and stomping through the toxic slime, Grindzilla is a crushing death metal/grindcore band from Homieĺ, Belarus, and released their debut full-length album Toshinquandon via the label Bizarre Leprous Productions back around in mid-2018. Though nothing stood out to me about this album, or the band in general, I noticed that themes of their lyricism and song titles revolved partially around ‘Kaiju’ Monsters. For those unfamiliar with the term, Kaiju is a Japanese film genre filled with giant, rampaging monsters, such as Godzilla, or the barrage of monsters he’s faced off against. Now hold on a minute, a death-grind metal band performing about giant, destructive monsters? That sounds like a recipe for a kick ass album, and as a super fan of the gore-death band The Creatures from the Tomb, I’m a sucker for the monster theme in general. So going into this album firsthand, I had an optimistic view, which only faltered slightly.
The first thing of note of this debut, is the styles incorporated into each track, and overarching feel of the album. Far from being another generic death-grind band, there are heavy elements of thrash and punk sprinkled through this release, with a majority of the songs having faster tempos, aggressive as hell percussion, and emphasis on rhythm, creating catchy and head bang-able songs. I could definitely see myself moshing to tracks like ‘Yoba-Bi-Bee’ with its self-titled hook, or ‘Morbid Charge’ with its thrashy/groove laden riffs. While there is a fast paced and angry presence to most of the songs, the album still takes its time on some songs to slow down, and change it up a bit. There’s sprinkles of other styles in these tracks as well, like the final track ‘Bury Your Pet’ having a crawling, slam slant to it, ‘Grind-n-Roll’ having not only heavy rock and roll riffs and structure to it, but drunken acoustic folk as well, and ‘Quintessence Of Insanity’ having an almost power metal slowness to it. It’s clear as day that with this debut, that the band is experimenting with various styles to see which comes the best, and to keep the listening experience varied, because if any one style was played through the entirety of the album, it would probably get boring pretty fast. As for the actual executions of these styles, the band members perform exceptionally well.
As mentioned before drumming done by Vladmir is aggressive, tight, and merciless in his delivery. I also appreciate the fact that blast beats are nowhere to be seen, instead opting more technical, complex and catchy play style. The bass by Arthur is mixed in generously, cutting through the mix like a warm knife through butter, but not overbearing in any sense, and even gets its own time to play solely on the aforementioned track ‘Grind-n-roll’. Aleksey on guitar offers hints of progressive riffs on a couple tracks and plucks along with even catchier and moshier riffs. The guitar itself adds to the theme of kaiju with its crushing bulldozer sound and unrelenting brutality. The vocals by Andrey, I could go either way about. With his vocal performance, he provides a diverse offering of different techniques of singing. The majority of the vocals are deeper ‘Bree’ vocals from the back of the throat, but there are the change ups including, death metal vocals with a punk like sneer/sarcastic tone to them, higher pitched screeches, and thankfully, minimized yet traditional slam/brutal death vocals which accompany the very few breakdowns on the album. While not having the most unique approach to some of these styles, I’m glad Andrey put in the effort and kept it varied. All the instruments are as clear as day, but in my opinion. The guitar could be turned down a little, as it feels a little too loud in comparison to everyone else in the mix.
While the various styles, mix and performances are solid for the most part, my biggest part of the album are the songs themselves. The term hit or miss comes to mind, but on a much bigger scale. Some of the tracks come off as severely mediocre, like ‘Hellhaze’ or ‘Mutant Wrestle Mania’ where the tracks blend together with one another to a point where I probably couldn’t tell them apart. The varied styles do keep the album interesting, but result in tracks that just don’t entertain me. Sure ‘Quintessence of Insanity’ is different, but it’s still boring and slow. But when the tracks hit, they really hit. A lot of the tracks I mentioned before are enjoyable, even if one or two suffer from what I call “Slam Syndrome”, good music bogged down by meaningless breakdowns or uninspired vocals mimicking what is believed to be the most brutal music ever. I know there’s good slam out there, but here it’s generic and indistinguishable from other mediocre slam bands.
While not the best of 2018, it’s certainly a standout, honorable mention of death-grind, certainly for a newcomer. The pros vastly outweigh the cons, but it still needs an extra something to make me love it. I’ll be anticipating the next album by Grindzilla whenever it gets announced, and I defiantly recommend this album for fans of death-grind, or groovy goregrind.