|3.8 (1 votes):|
Grindcore is well known for its pounding and unrelenting nature. The explosive drumming, the often primitive and primal delivery of the vocals, the noisy, dissonant and harsh production, buzzsaw riffs, for the crust punk fans, it might be notable for taking influences from crust and hardcore and dialing up the extremity tenfold, and so on. Some people don’t care for its chaotic or noisy structure, or the short length of most of the songs, often viewing it as barely being worth being called an artform, and I can see where they’re coming from- it can be jarring on first listen especially. Others might love the chaos, and just the raw emotional energy that’s communicated through the style- that’s why it appeals to me personally. To me, good grindcore at least, is able to exude an almost palpable feeling of unbridled rage, frustration and desperation being channeled through your speakers. I don’t care much for splatter paintings myself admittedly, so this may not be the best analogy if I like the occasional grind but don’t care much for splatter paintings- but regardless- I’d compare it to splatter paintings or other styles of postmodern art. Not everybody can find appreciation for it because of how “loud” and “jarring” it might be at first, but the ones that do understand what’s going on, and the emotion being expressed, might be able to appreciate it more. But I digress. The album I’m discussing today, Lobotomia, the newest album by Jack, pretty much fits all of the characteristic qualities I stated above. How well do they pull it off? Well, let’s find out!
I hadn’t heard of this band until I was introduced to it, so honestly I didn’t know what to expect- it could’ve just been heavy metal for all I knew, or it could’ve been a solo prog rock instrumental guitarist or something- but no, turns out they’re a pretty old grindcore band from Hungary, formed back in 1996- and it seemed pretty evident once I saw the cover it was pretty evident that I had some grindcore on my hands. This was only confirmed once I was greeted with a very noisy and chaotic opening song, with barbaric and primal sounding vocals. It has a pretty obvious crust punk/D-beat influence. The riffs have the buzz of 1,000 pissed off hornets that you just threw a rock into the nest of- a pretty quintessential quality of grindcore if I do say so myself.
It is definitely full of raw and explosive energy, and it goes for the jugular from the beginning of most of the tracks on the album, and it- almost doesn’t get lost in its own sauce. The part where it almost does kind of get lost in the chaos I’ll discuss a little later. But it has some pretty killer riffs that you can pick out while listening to it, they’re not so buried in noise that you can’t make them out (most of the time, again, I haven’t got there just yet). They can be pretty catchy in fact! Járulékos veszteség for example, with an evil riff towards the end of it that’s very memorable for me, and it just has this breakdown that brings to mind the image of a chainsaw being revved up before a grisly massacre, accompanied with a dissonant solo. I don’t usually associate grindcore with solos- not in the same way that I would thrash metal, traditional heavy metal or even death metal anyway- but a few of the songs really do have some very dissonant solos, that almost sound creepy at times, like in the track Elhagyott generáció. Distortion and dissonance is definitely something I’d say they do very well, I have to give them that for sure. And whenever they go into more of a midpaced D-beat section, it gets especially catchy in my opinion. This probably shines through the most in the track Újjászuletés, which has a very old school feeling riff.
However- now I’m going to address the elephant in the room- one thing that was immediately jarring for me was how loud the snare was in the mix for most of the album. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like that or not at first, because I could see how it added to the explosiveness of the music, firing off like an M60 being shot into the upturned lid of a trash can- but I could also see how that could maybe be a little distracting. And that seemed to be confirmed as the album went on for me. It really adds to the chaos of the album at best, and it’s not always too distracting, but at worst it kind of buries and overpowers a lot of the other stuff going on in the mix and it can actually be distracting. It doesn’t make the album totally unredeemable for me, in fact, sometimes they make it work pretty well, like in the middle of the song “Lakat alatt”, there’s this one part where the music just abruptly stops, accentuated by just the single smack of the snare- and you may be fooled into thinking that was the end of the song if only for that brief moment- but then it’s like an abrupt detonation of noise comes in again full force, with all of the instruments just exploding into your eardrums and pounding them with an unrelenting force. It’s a little thing for sure, but little things like that make the experience all the more special for me sometimes. But overall, when you’re able to look past the drums, there’s a good grindcore album in there, I just think it would’ve been improved if the snare wasn’t so loud in the mix. I took the liberty of looking up some of their other material when I was gathering my thoughts on the album, and I didn’t really notice that problem in their other material, so I’m not really sure what was up with that entirely- I didn’t even find it to be as jarring in the live tracks included at the end of the album either. More on that part later.
Anyway, with the elephant in the room out of the way, it still definitely has a lot going for it. In the vocals department for one thing. Like I said, most of the vocals in the album just have this very primal, barbaric, primitive and raw energy to them, mostly delivered in a grunted style, sounding like what I’d imagine a neanderthal going into a blood rage would sound like, but whenever the vocalist sparsely uses his highs throughout the album, they just sound like the unhinged shrieks and squeals of a rabid maniac sometimes. And then whenever the shouts are used they just remind me of the raw frustration and anger you’d feel when being cut off in traffic before you could make your turn in some crowded city, or when you get berated by an entitled boomer at your food service job and can only vent out those emotions when you’re on your lunch break. My point being, they just do very well at channeling just those unbridled primitive emotions. And that brings me back to the live tracks at the end- from what I could hear in these tracks, it sounds like they must have a very raw presence on stage especially. The riffs just have this crisp and crunchy sound, probably because of the live recording quality, and the vocals sound even more primitive and barbaric, and like I said- it doesn’t sound like the drums are as overpowering in the mix during the live tracks.
So overall, what do I think? Well, I admit, my feelings are kind of mixed on this one. I think there is a very good album contained in these tracks, but I also think it could’ve been better. And the live tracks honestly show me even more of their potential- in fact, I’d love to see how this band would be live because of those tracks. But I’d have to say that overall, this is a pretty decent grindcore album, but it also kind of gets drowned in the chaos of its drums at certain points. The drums giveth, and they taketh away overall, and when it taketh away, that kind of loses a couple points with me. But the live tracks kind of convinced me that it was more of a mixing problem perhaps? And they showed me what they’re capable of a little bit more, so that kind of added back another point. So overall, this album was almost a 6/10 for me, but now I’d probably give it about a 7/10. I’d still recommend the band for sure, and this album if you can look past the drumming. You can get this album on LP or CD on their bandcamp page, as well as their other albums or merch if you’d happen to be so inclined.
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