Recently some grindcore bands have been making some very slight changes to the traditional sound. There is more focus on tight musicianship, more well written song structures, more intelligible vocals and more serious lyrical subject matter. Newer grindcore bands are also not scared to mix in other metal subgenres giving the music some much needed variation. Don’t worry the songs are still extremely fast and noisy, but instead of just being noisy for the sake of being as noisy as possible, things are a bit more controlled and well constructed. This is good news for those metal fans that are just getting into grindcore or want to give it a try. Now you can check out this contemporary form of grindcore first before diving into the more chaotic classic style. It’s a nice way to ease into the subgenre.
If you are going to begin checking out what grindcore has to offer, Exhale’s newest album When Worlds Collide is a great place to start. The album is fast and heavy with well crafted songs, excellent musicianship, a perfect mix of screams and death growls and great lyrics. Exhale pays homage to the musical genre that paved the way for grindcore by mixing in solid hardcore grooves and breakdowns. The band also makes use of elements from classic death metal and deathcore giving them a more unique sound than many other grindcore bands. The guitar work is superb and the blast beat drumming is done with both breakneck speed and technical perfection. However, the real star here is the highly featured bass work of Johan Fogelberg. He can move seamlessly from blazingly fast arrangements to slow paced catchy breakdowns. All of this makes for an amazing album with a ton of great songs, so let’s begin by talking about the biggest stand out tracks from the record.
The record begins about as perfectly as any grindcore record could with a lightning fast jump start called “Wrath Unleashed”. The guitar work is fast and furious and the blast beats are about as brutal as they can get. The song has an excellent classic grindcore sound and clocks in at the traditional short duration at one minute fourteen seconds. Next comes “Avsky” which shows off Fogelberg’s great bass work at the start before moving into a super fast pace. This is the first track to mix in the hardcore influences with a slow bass driven breakdown. “Apocalypse” is more of a deathgrind style track with a slightly higher pitched guitar open, full death growl vocals and slower pacing. The middle of the track speeds things up into full grindcore before hitting a catchy bassy breakdown.
“Monuments of the Dead” is another track that really kicks up the death metal elements. This time they are mixed with more hardcore grooves giving the track a super heavy deathcore/grindcore feel. We get a picked guitar open with great, deliberate double bass pedal drumming and a great bass bridge with lead guitar overlay. “Till Slakt” starts fast and furious with grindcore guitar and drum perfection then it adds in hardcore rhythms with more excellent double bass drumming and a groove driven breakdown. On “Glorify the Dumb” we get another fast grind start with a more typical breakdown style. The song’s mid section becomes a bit more catchy and the vocal performance from Martin Brzezinski is one of his best on the record. “Vigilante” and ” “Etiketter” are probably two of the most well written and well played tracks on the record. They both have more of a traditional grind sound with a much heavier, yet still catchy, breakdowns than the other tracks. “Illusions” is easily Brzezinski’s best vocal work with a great mix of shrieks and growls over top of a chaotic drum and guitar arrangement.
Finally we come to one of my favorite tracks on the album. When I checked out the record before listening to it, I noticed this final track was over seven minutes long. I thought to myself, how the heck can they keep up that pacing for seven minutes? Much to my surprise the track was slower paced with a hardcore style groove. It was a very cool change of pace that really ended things nicely and shows that the band knows and respects their influences.
There are a couple of other really great things about this album. First it is fourteen tracks in length. This is absolutely awesome at a time when most metal bands are putting out records of ten tracks or less. Secondly many of the songs do not subscribe to the typical short grindcore run times. Seven of the fourteen songs clock in at two minutes or more with some of those over three minutes in length. This gives the band more of a chance to show off their excellent musical and songwriting abilities.
I cannot recommend When Worlds Collide enough. Whether you are a diehard grindcore fan or someone who has never really been able to get into it, I think you will enjoy this album immensely. It’s nice to see grindcore moving in a more serious and artistic direction. Many of these grind bands contain some of metal’s best musicians, so solid songwriting like this gives all of us more of an opportunity to hear everything that a band has to offer. For me this is the best and most well rounded grindcore release of 2013. Make sure you give this one a shot.