Never judge a book by its cover or even a cassette by its name or lack of, something that is never truer than with this six track (plus one secret track on this cassette version) 'Demo' from 'Napalm Christ', a four piece from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA.
Add to that the genre description of grind/doom and whatever you imagine, doesn't come close to what you actually get.
The band consist of current and ex-members of 'Rwake', 'Shitfire' and 'Shredded Corpse' and the 'Demo' is described as being "Filled with a wall of Filthy Grinding Doom with influences ranging from all angles" in the bio, which it certainly is, but done with a surprising degree of sophistication and as first demos go, or even first albums quite often, is a pretty impressive and unique approach to grind/doom.
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The musicianship is good, the construction of the tracks interesting and I love the vocals, harsh, laboured, sometimes snarling with at times a tortuous edge. These sit well alongside the dark doom laden elements creating a dirty yet melancholic feel to a lot of the tracks particularly on the ones with a more drawn out and reflective ending; they also sit equally as well alongside the grind elements. There is also in places, an almost blackened feel to the sound.
I love the extreme range within the tracks, one minute sludgy and doom laden the next, seamlessly switching gear to a frantic paced grind fest.
This extreme range, frantic and spiralling one moment then depressive and drawn out the next is present across almost all the tracks, but particularly well represented in the two longer tracks, 'Reclaimed By The Earth' and 'Burning Away The Scourge', both over seven minutes long and it is impressive just how slow these guys can play.
On 'Life Is Dimming' the pace descends to a crawling riff as the track drags itself to a close and on 'Nuclear Holy War' there is even a brief technical element in the first half of the track. The shortest track, 'Despoilment Of Will', was also interesting, short and sharp at under two minutes with a dirty almost sleazy spiralling groove to the grind but my favourite track was the opening track, 'Idols Of Evil', thick and sludgy as it opens breaking into a death grind before descending back into doom.
On the cassette rather than the digital download, the bonus track, 'The Seasons Of Dirt' is sludgy sleaze alongside manic grind and well worth a listen.
Recorded at Hell's War studios (Little Rock, AR) by Alan Wells with assistance from Keith Bracy and mastered by Collin Jordan at Boiler Room Mastering (Chicago, IL), the artwork and logo are both by Dennis Lee Hughes.
This is a really good release and so in some ways Napalm Christ may have done themselves a disservice just making this a demo rather than making it a debut album, the quantity and quality is certainly there or maybe there is just a bigger picture waiting to be revealed, I hope so.
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