Grindcore is tough genre to single most bands out of. There are standouts like Napalm Death and heirs to the throne like Misery Index (I know not just a grind band). Still beyond the few acts that truly stick themselves out above the scum there is little definition within the ranks. So in a way this makes any band doing something a bit unique within the genre stand out. Unfortunately the grind illuminati will probably talk shit on most of these bands for not being "true" or "brutal" enough for their liking.
Fortunately Willowtip has found a band that combines Crust punk and Grindcore in a way that feels comfortable enough to fit but not settle. Afgrund are a Swedish band (clearly) that have one full length prior to this. Some extra time spent writing and recording seems like it helped. Every song fits together not one stands out to throw off the rest. Even though this is still grindcore primarily there is much to be had. The lyrics (when they are in english) are fairly well written for this genre and feel like the sum of their parts rather than random twitter posts from a hateful crusty. The band do a good job of distinguishing between songs so as to avoid the blurring together that many grind albums do. There is admirable use of dual vocals, noise/feedback bridges and even more metalcore style breakdowns.
On the other hand for all of these things that set them apart Afgrund are still primarily a grind band. While this is not a bad thing just know you will hear a ton of blastbeats fast guitar part and cookie monster growls from time to time. The recording is clean but still the bass gets overshadowed much of the time. When the bass does get the opportunity to shine in the mix it shows that the bass player is sticking to his rhythm and not going far off the guitarist's mark.
Speaking of which the guitarist does make good use of traditional bits of grind and crust but there is little to distinguish the riffing most times. Noted the noise and feedback break the monotony it's still grind.
The artwork is very good it fits the concepts in the lyrics very well. Very dark with a use of fire and such help to keep it from going the gross out route that many grind bands rely on graphics-wise. The lyrics are there and rather readable there is nothing that you couldn't want them to do with the package that they didn't include.
Bottom line is that Afgrund are clearly at the high end of the bell curve for grind. There are a few things they could do in the songwriting department to make themselves stick out amongst the flock more next time. But, for what they lack in originality they have in fury and none of that fury goes to waste. Here's to hoping they have another good, if not better record in them soon.
7.8 / 10
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Big kudos are due to Justin Mitchell of Cold Spring for making this release possible, and bringing to life one of the strangest meeting of the minds. Irwin Chusid of ...
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