Cutting their collective teeth on shit-ass early ’90s label Grindcore, Broken Hope have been quietly perfecting their craft, that of which being guttural, gore-drenched death-grind not unlike Cannibal Corpse (any era — they’re all the same) or early Carcass. The thing is, while the Illinois natives haven’t altered their lyrical grist any (recent titles: “Necro-Fallatio,” “Chemically Castrated”), they have upped their intellectual quotient since departing from Metal Blade a few years back, putting blast-beats on the backburner and using them more as a structural element, infusing detuned riffs with hints (read: hints ) of melody and harmony, the whole sonic belch actually becoming quite satisfying as of late.
Which brings us to Broken Hope’s latest offering, Grotesque Blessings . Though not quite the thinking-man’s death-thrash that Death and Sadus were trailblazing in the early ’90s, Broken Hope nonetheless reconfigure their death-grind as a beast now light years more advanced than originally intended. Possibly taking a cue from said two aesthetic forebears, guitarists Jeremy Wagner and Brian Griffin (also head growler) engage in dual-harmonic tug-o’-war riffing that, despite the slide rule and compass needed to map out such calculus, is much more lethal than previous (unintentionally?) brain-damaged assaults. Not surprisingly, the band’s stop-on-a-dime, head-butting time changes are still in full force here, but somewhere underneath all the blood ‘n’ bones lies a previously unearthed method to their madness, a palpitating ignition that’s simultaneously overwhelming and awe-inspiring, the rhythm section (too many session bassists to mention) finally proving it has the steroidal chops and knows where to go with them — namely, the most caustic, crusty reaches of the psyche. Quite possibly the surprise metal record of the year here.
Martyr, P.O. Box 45, Natick, MA 01760; http://www.martyrmusicgroup.com