Musical Darwinism with J.R. Hayes

In the latest edition of this column, we went “in the listening room” with J.R. from Pig Destroyer and played him some records. Here are excerpts from his first impressions of each.

Mule Skinner Crushing Breakdown
I like the guitar tone. The only way we’re gonna know whether things are right or not is you wait until blast beat comes in. This kinda reminds me of—well, this guy’s riffs in general remind me of Harmony Corruption-era Napalm Death and Righteous Pigs, that Mitch Harrisy-kinda riffs, or Jesse Pintado riffs. I think that this is the same band from the ‘90s except for the singer. I think the singer is different. He’s not as gruff as the original guy.

That was a grim not of approval, for those of you who can’t see what I’m doing.

This kinda vocal right here is more closer to the original singer.

This is pretty rippin’, and it’s definitely in the vein of their older material. If you liked the old stuff you’ll like this stuff, definitely. New Orleans bands just know how to groove, man. This drummer is so sick. Like, even when he’s blasting, there’s still a groove, you know what I mean? That’s why I love New Orleans.
Mule Skinner Bandcamp

Voorhees Spilling Blood Without Reason
Lemme look online here and look up “British hardcore bands” and see if there’s anybody that I think is better than that Voorhees album. ‘Cause that album is fuckin’ sick. OK, Antisect is pretty cool. Um, I’m sure some people would say Amebix, ‘cause people fucking love Amebix. I’m not a huge fan but I’m tryin’ to get into ‘em. And then Discharge. I think you’d have to say Discharge is probably the best British hardcore band. But my favorite British hardcore record is Spilling Blood Without Reason by Voorhees ‘cause it’s the fucking shit, and it’s catchy and it’s brutal as fuck. And that’s the hardest thing to do, is be catchy and brutal as fuck at the same time. Slaughter of the Soul-esque, you know? That perfect blend, you know, of catchiness and fury.
Grot Records

Note: J.R. talked about Mule Skinner in the last edition of the column.

Those Who Bring the Torture Piling Up
I can already tell you that I don’t like the name. And when I don’t like a name, it’s difficult to overcome that, you know what I mean? Even when the music is cool. I know that sounds stupid, but … I dunno, I guess a band would have to be pretty fucking amazing for me to just totally ignore it.

All right, Testament beat.

This is like, you get that feeling when you’re hearing a band that they remind you really heavily of another band but you just can’t fuckin’ pull it, you know what I mean? I dunno, it’s kind of … I wanna say these guys are probably an American band, ‘cause they don’t have that kind of European swagger, you know, that I equate with melodic European death metal bands. But this is definitely competent stuff. It’s not super extreme. The guitars are kind of melodic and there’s a lot of balance in the songwriting, where every song goes through a couple of different parts. These guys are good at what they do.

I think they sound … I mean, everybody knows European metal or death metal has more of that kind of Entombed-ish and then later At the Gates/In Flames kinda sound, and then U.S. death metal bands tend to be more Cannibal Corpse-y or Suffocation-y. It’s more technical and less melodic and kind of stiffer, I guess. These guys are kinda melodic but there’s a death metal stiffness.

Yeah, this is not my kinda shit right here, but they’re competent and they’re good at what they’re doin’.
Selfmadegod Records

TrenchRot Dragged Down to Hell
“Trenchrot” just makes you think of Jungle Rot.

This reminds me of Deceased, I think especially the vocal delivery, or the Toxic Holocaust guy kinda sings like this too a little bit. Like that not-quite-Cronos-from-Venom kinda deal.

It’s a pretty sweet lead. Yeah, this sounds like something that should be on Hell’s Headbangers, like with October 31 and Nunslaughter and all that kinda shit they have on there. It seems like death metal is going through the same thing [as with] what happened to black metal in the early ‘90s where everybody wants to get a more raw recording, boil things down to just the meat and the bones kinda deal. I mean, obviously there’s still a lotta bands out there doing the super-slick production stuff too. That’s still happening, but it seems like with the Hell’s Headbangers stuff, there’s these dirty, kinda punkish death metal records.

Those squealy Slayer dive bombs and shit in there, those’re very Kerry King. I’m up for another track of that. That was pretty cool. I like the atmosphere, the vocals are distinct. Wouldn’t you take this over, say, something [like] the last couple Morbid Angel records, like that really esoteric, weird, super double bassy death metal? I’d much rather have somethin’ like this that’s way more direct. [slaps fist into palm repeatedly] That was me crushing somebody’s face with a fist, by the way, just for the visually impaired.

Yeah, check out TrenchRot, Dragged Down to Hell. It’s pretty cool. I’m trying to be critical and not just be all Mr. Nice Guy, but I can’t find anything I don’t like about this. It’s pretty rippin’.
TrenchRot Bandcamp

Inhumation Verdant Decay
[examines CD sleeve]
If I had to guess, I would say this is like brutal death metal along the lines of Deeds of Flesh or something to that effect, you know, like brutally heavy death metal. When we were listening to Those Who Bring the Torture, they had those melodic riffs in there. I don’t think this band has melodic riffs. I don’t know if they’re going all in, like Devourment style …

Only a death metal band would use the word “verdant” in a fucking album title. Only a death metal band would do that. OK, so, Inhumation, let’s check ’em out. Let’s see if my suspicions are correct. [plays CD]

I like this because it’s got more of a groove to it. It’s a little more Pantera—at least the riffs, anyway, are a little more Pantera—than I was anticipating. That is not a bad thing, by the way. Um, I guess it’s more groovy, like a Madball record would be groovy, than the stiff death metal that we were talking about before, like a real rigid Hate Eternal kinda sound, where it’s real boxy. I mean, this isn’t all that removed from a record like Killing on Adrenaline by Dying Fetus. A lot of these riffs could be from a mid-period Dying Fetus record. And I love Dying Fetus, but this type of death metal usually doesn’t do it for me. Again, competent, serviceable, but it’s not doin’ it for me.
Lost Apparitions Records

Marty McKay Sin’s Disciple
[examines CD sleeve] Oh boy. This could be rough. He’s givin’ me that David Blaine/Dave Navarro look right now, you know? That “I’m gonna fuck you with my eyes” look? I’m not sure how I feel about that, Marty. Well, he gives himself credit for rap vocals on his own solo album, which I think is kinda weird. And then gives himself credit, in addition to the rap vocals, for male lead vocals, which is just kinda strange to me. I guess he doesn’t want people thinkin’ that somebody else came in and rapped. Although I’m rooting for [this record], ’cause there’s a song called “Turn Up My Sex,” and I really wanna like a record with a song called “Turn Up My Sex” on it. [plays CD]

Wow. I mean, I hate to say it, but if you’re a European and you rap, it’s just not gonna work out, you know? Even if you’re really good, it just sounds weird.

Some of the music sounds like fucking Evanescence, dude. And then, when you just juxtapose the rapping with the crappy pop hook, you bring in the female singer and all that stuff, like the Eminem deal—yeah, no. Not in this house. Not in this brain.
Marty McKay website

Internal Damage Age of Violence
It’s gotta be a giant pain in the ass to have a band from Russia. Prob’ly got fuckin’ Putin on your dick and shit. Five extra bonus points right out of the gate.

I wasn’t expecting this as an opening track. Alright, so I guess that the rest of the band was late and missed the first track, ‘cause it sounds like the drummer’s just tryin’ to fill some time right here. Which is weird that you’re fillin’ time on your first track. Sounds like there’s some kind of radio transmission in the background or something; I dunno. I kinda like the weird awkwardness of that first song, though, ‘cause it’s not what you expect that would be there.

This song kinda reminds me of Amebix or Deviated Instinct. This is pretty good. Crusty, punky grindcore. Rough hardcore like Ratos de Porão or Phobia maybe. Yeah, it’s cool. Vocals kinda remind me of Infest maybe a little bit, not quite as barky. It’s good. It’s punk as fuck. Go Internal Damage.
EveryDayHate Records

Bastard Noise/Lack of Interest Split
This is kind of an interesting split because, you know, these bands are obviously friends and all that and go back in the scene and stuff, but Lack of Interest is a band that—you always know what you’re gonna get from Lack of Interest ’cause they’ve stayed with the same kinda sound. But then Man is the Bastard/Bastard Noise is one of those bands, sort of like the Melvins, where you never quite know exactly what you’re gonna get. And I know they got the animal Rich Hoak on drums on this session. It’s a band that I didn’t really appreciate back in the day but I appreciate a little more now.

I’m not gonna get super picky about a production on a [Bastard Noise] recording, but there doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of bass. It’s like everything’s real trebly … but it almost seems kind of intentionally high pitched, you know what I mean? This is almost like an atmospheric or uplifting part in the middle of the song.

I just don’t think anybody writes riffs like this dude. Eric Wood, you know, the way he plays the bass and the type of riffs that he writes—it’s got a unique thing. When you listen to Suppression, you can tell how influenced Jason [Hodges] was by Eric Wood. Not that he was ripping him off, but you can hear it in those big kinda groovy, strange bass riffs and stuff. Suppression’s all about the bass guitar. It’s all about Jason’s bass.

This track’s fuckin’ awesome. I dunno; there’s somethin’ really dirty about this sound. It’s kinda sketchy, like maybe it’s got some kinda lip disease or something, like somethin’ you don’t wanna get too close to. You know what I’m talkin’ about.

Lack of Interest is that super ADD, choppy fastcore, stop-start, really short attention span shit. Most of these songs are 47 seconds long or roundabouts. I think 40-50 seconds is perfect grindcore song length. I mean, you gotta give it up to these guys. They’ve been around forever, you know. I wouldn’t put ’em up there with the Crossed Outs and No Comment. Like, it’s not quite there, but it’s almost there. Good band. And the singer kinda sounds like if gorillas could do hardcore vocals, it would kinda sound like this guy, right? Doesn’t he kinda sound like a gorilla? I just imagine a big, broad-shouldered gorilla with a little bowler hat, maybe a leather jacket. The same thing when I listen to Infest, ’cause [the singer] has a similar voice.

Uh, I don’t feel like I can review just this record, because to me that could be any of their records. Even for a grindcore band, they don’t deviate very much from record to record, at least that I’ve heard. It’s always quality stuff, but it ends up being kinda samey, you know. Like another perfect example—and I love this band—Iron Lung. You know, like the Sexless//No Sex record on Prank? That’s my favorite one—I think it’s a lot of people’s favorite one—that they’ve done. All of their records are awesome, but they’re all kind of … they all could be any of their records. They have their sound, and it’s always that sound, and there’s just an interchangeability about it. Like, even the production sounds—it sounds like it was recorded on the same day in the same room with the same equipment. The sound is so nailed, you know? I mean, awesome band, one of my favorites.

Actually, you could say that about a lot of grindcore bands; their material can be interchangeable at times when you’re writin’ hundreds upon—I mean, think about goregrind bands, dude.
Deep Six Records

Diseased Reason Recombinant
Huh, interesting. Do you remember in the ’90s there was a few German bands that came out, like Acme and Mörser? This kinda reminds me of that stuff. You remember the ’90s, they had the whole Earth Crisis metalcore deal goin’ on, so it was kinda like a bunch of German bands that had that sound but it was more death metal. Which made sense, the natural progression from one thing to another.

Or Acrid from Canada, do you remember that band? Acrid had a split 10” I think, with Left for Dead, another Canadian band, and it had a red buzzsaw. With the packaging you could see the record; it was a blood red buzzsaw. It was a sweet record. Canadian folk making nasty hardcore.

This reminds me of Full of Hell a little bit, actually. Let’s check out another song. Track 3 is always a key track. Because your first song is your opener—with pop music, it’s typically the single—and the second song is usually an aggressive rocker song that’s maybe two or three minutes long, like a quickie to kinda keep the momentum of the big opening, and then the third track is usually the weird song, the change of pace song, you know what I’m sayin’? You don’t know what I’m sayin’, do you?

I like the bass sound. It’s got a really good live sound to it. I can hear the room, you know what I mean, and they captured that ambient room noise. That’s why I like the first Eyehategod record so much, because I can see the dirty little filthy basement that it was probably recorded in. Like, I can just see it in my head; I can hear it. That’s the sort of thing that usually only happens by accident.

Sounds like a DRI riff. I dunno. I mean, these guys sound like a lot of bands that I love, like Rorschach or that caustic, noisy hardcore—Deadguy, or … what’s another punishing band from that era? You ever listen to old Integrity? The first Integrity record is so good.

[Recombinant]’s dark, it’s heavy, it’s well produced, but it’s also kinda nondescript. They sound like a lot of bands that I like, but I haven’t found the one individual component that makes them stick out. The artwork is kinda bland, y’know, and the name is kinda bland, and there’s not a lot of imagery being conjured up, you know what I mean? Like they have all the components but not the personality. They’ve got the sound and the delivery, but …

The artwork reminds me of the last couple Gaza records. But I mean, look at the cover. There’s nothing there to not like, but it’s just ehh.
Handshake, Inc. 

Note: D.U. interviewed guitarist Dorian Rainwater on his projects, which includes Diseased Reason.

Check out the previous editions of J.R.’s column:
Second grindcore edition, December 2013
First grindcore edition, February 2013
November 2012
and there are several more in the ’zine archives.

Photo: Relapse Records

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