Album Review: BLOCKHEADS – This World Is Dead
- Posted by Jeremy Ulrey on January 29, 2013
Grind has been making a comeback lately – its decline in both popularity and availability roughly traceable to Nasum's 2005 break up – and you'd expect Relapse to be leading such a resurgence. True to form, the label has recently put out genre defining efforts by the likes of Pig Destroyer and Rotten Sound, and now they bring the world a hitherto unknown find hailing from France by the name of Blockheads.
For a relatively obscure group, Blockheads have actually been quietly toiling away for quite a few years now; their first two albums were self-released in 1995 and 1998, respectively, and since then they've only had a pair of full lengths on Bones Brigade and a small handful of splits to their name… in other words, in spite of their longevity they do not boast anywhere near the restless productivity of neighboring Belgians Agathocles.
However, while the Agathocles oeuvre often seems to be made up of largely interchangeable songs, Blockheads have obviously spent the years between releases focusing on diversity while nonetheless sticking to fundamentals; This World Is Dead isn't out to rewrite the grind template. Whereas "To the Dogs" is a relatively midpaced affair, almost sludge-like in its insistent yet unhurried drum patterns, something like "Sell Your Flesh" hearkens back to the Siege / early Napalm Death days, a 17 second synapse blitz followed by the longer but similarly frenzied "Famine".
This is one trap that Blockheads successfully navigate where other bands that mix up their tempos overthink themselves: not ever fast song has to followed by a slower song and vice versa, it's perfectly acceptable to string several fast tunes together and allow the overall arc of the album to dictate its own measured sense of diversity.
And so, while the name Blockheads will be unfamiliar to many who didn't happen to catch them on tour with Carcass, Napalm or Entombed, it's clear that these Frenchmen have taken a few well chosen queues from the best in terms of composition and musicianship. With their big stage arrival on Relapse, this may the first time you've heard of Blockheads but its unlikely to be your last.
This World Is Dead is out now on Relapse.