Album Review: MAGRUDERGRIND II
It’s been a long, sad silence for Magrudergrind. For awhile I just assumed them dead. The announcement never came, but like a missing persons case I just figured the inevitable had happened. Last year brought joy and good news to thankfully snuff out that thought. But…now my feelings are mixed.
Go ahead, get that “FUCK SCION” out of your system; grow a pair and move on. “But Scion this, Scion that.” Yeah, I get it. And I don’t fuckin’ care. Shut the fuck up. Crusher was good, you cretins. And if you don’t believe that now, your opinion might be subject to change after hearing II.
If you hadn’t heard of Magrudergrind by the time 2009 rolled around, you probably weren’t into the grindcore or powerviolence scenes. The mass of hype and wrecked stereos that surrounded their fourth self-titled LP on Willowtip Records was unbelievable. But so was the quality of the album. Rehashed, Don't Support Humanitary Aid Led by the Church, and Religious Baffle were all competent albums. Hell, Rehahsed saw was an album that should’ve caught fire like their self-titled did, but somehow didn’t. And it seems that Magrudergrind quit it just when they were in their prime.
If you came into this expecting a Yiddish outro or some rap influences scattered throughout—that’s not present here. You could say it’s a simpler album for a more cynical time. You wouldn’t be wrong. II is a piece that sticks like the silhouette of a hangman in the sunset. If the video for “Sacrificial Hire” is any indicator, it’s a darker foray into modern world issues. But then again, “Martyrs of the Shoah” wasn’t exactly a trip down gum drop lane, was it?
The album is, like the self-titled, a pure jump into grindcore. Start to finish, it’s a punkier approach. Whereas Magrudergrind was Entombed in the Left Hand Path, II breaks itself away from that. From a song writing perspective, there’s a larger focus on blast sections and break neck changes, but the punk attitude never diverts. And it’s a well written record in that respect. Once “Imperium in Imperio” kicks off you might think for a second that the you’re in store for a trip back seven years ago. Nope. Move on to “Divine Dictation” and you’re more plugged into what the record is about: plenty of jumpier sections, quick mutes, and break-neck blasts.
So what’s the problem? Nothing on the band’s end, as I know I’ve already led you to believe there is one. However, there is a question of how well it measures up to its predecessors: to that respect, it’s not Magrudergrind’s best work. Gone are the bits of comedy and hip hop influence that made Magrudergirnd such a blast to listen to. In fact, there aren’t any clips or cuts from anything. The whole thing is just slapped together and, while the flow is good, it still makes you feel like you’re missing something that previous releases nailed in spades. It’s kinda makes you go: “What, what, wiggedy whack?”
There seems to be a lot of people that believe this is one badass, killer album.I don’t share that sentiment. The reason for that is one of two things: producer Kurt Ballou or mixer Brad Boatright. Go ahead a take a moment to listen to their self-titled and the Crusher EP. Then listen to this. The snare sounds like a wet pancake. Avi Kulawy’s vocals rotate between vocal chord shredding and just sounding tired. And after a seven year rest it’s either the weight of modern cynicism or, again, bad production.
“But Chris!” you might begin. “Grindcore and powerviolence has always sounded raw and under-produced!” No Comment’s Downsided sounds better than this album. Spazz’s Crush. Kill. Destroy. sounds better than this. Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s side of The Poacher Diaries sounds bett… actually, no it doesn’t. Maybe it would have helped to have Scott Hull master the album like he did the last one. But then again, maybe mastering wasn’t the issue. Maybe you just gotta kill the bass and crank that treble. Maybe me reading Sound On Sound magazine doesn’t mean dick (hint: it doesn’t). The fact remains, II sounds utterly weak. Like dulled teeth on a wolf. Like clipped nails on a cat. There’s nothing on this album that cuts and the production shows that in spades.
Maybe I’m being too hard. Maybe. But I don’t think so. The writing of the album is certainly Magrudergrind but what came out sounds so passé. If a lower fi production value is what was intended, something a little more stripped, well it even sounds lacking in that respect. The desperation and anger have been dragged through the mud. Everything hits flat. But I still see the love of the band in there. II is a decent album from a song writing perspective. I’m not in love with it, but everything by the band previously released sounds better than this. I guess sometimes a leave of absence simply rusts the tools rather than gives one time to sharpen them.
You can tell me I'm wrong here.