The Only Law is Survival
Since its inception in the mid- to late-’80s, what the genre of grindcore has given to the underground metal scene is considerable, to say the least: extreme speed, extreme vocals, extreme distortion, extreme overkill — basically, extremity. However, with the black-metal and death-metal communities having co-opted most of the genre’s signifying tools of the trade, not to mention its subsequent splintering into the crust-core and power-violence camps, it stands to reason that grindcore has been mired in a sizable stagnation for much of the ’90s. Sure, you’ve got Anal Cunt’s hilariously offensive blast-furnace shenanigans and all, but in these post-Napalm Death/Assück/Extreme Noise Terror days, there’s hardly anyone plying the dentist-drill trade, and the ones who do are hopelessly underground (and for good reason).
Two relatively new contenders to the musical extremity throne are Hateplow and Rotten Sound. Although they’ve been around since ’94, Hateplow make their long-playing debut with The Only Law is Survival. Comprising three Malevolent Creation dudes, one from Revenant, and former Sickness vocalist Kyle Simmons, Hateplow is something of a death-metal super-group. But judging from the 13-song album, the band’s resumes precede them, as The Only Law is Survival facelessly stabs at grindcore conventions, tirelessly and tiredly shotgunning a scant number of riffs and transitions that, even then, wholly lack distinction and character. And though such lack of distinction and character might suffice if only for a palpitating level of execution, that’s pretty much a moot point in metal, especially grindcore; after all, pistol-precise execution should lie at the heart of heavy metal. In any case, color my pulse listless.
With that in mind, Rotten Sound’s Still Psycho hardly fares much better. A preview of the Finnish five-piece’s forthcoming third album, the six-song EP features an ultra-compressed guitar production not unlike the first five or so records on Earache back in the day — nice touch, but that’s not enough to laud this early Carcass/Sinister hybrid any more than other crusties occupying this camp. Surprisingly, blastbeats aren’t in quite as much abundance as the average onlooker would expect, Rotten Sound giving an “aw, shucks” attempt at slipping in some rollicking Entombed mid-tempos underneath all the burl, and the fifth track, “Lack of Awareness,” prominently features some gooey, clear-minded Eyehategood under-chug. Still, by the last song, a too-ironic cover of Carcass’ “Reek of Putrefaction,” it’s a little too late on a record a little too short to showcase Rotten Sound’s potential, however limiting it may be — don’t hold your breath for said forthcoming album.