Southern Lord: All Pigs Must Die + Centuries + Dead In The Dirt + Power Trip

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Reviews by Jason Guest

Four new releases from Southern Lord have found their way into Midlands Rocks. Oh, what to do with them? Review ‘em perhaps? Okay.

  • All Pigs Must Die – Nothing Violates This Nature
  • Centuries – Taedium Vitae
  • Dead In The Dirt – Blind Hole
  • Power Trip – Manifest Decimation

 

All Pigs Must Die – Nothing Violates This Nature

Boston-based, All Pigs Must Die was originally a drunken idea that was put together by members of Converge, The Hope Conspiracy, and Bloodhorse for fun with the intention of making just one record. No such luck. When I interviewed them for another website just after the release of their first full-length album, 2011’s God Is War, they were already halfway through writing the follow up. On God Is War, APMD were seriously pissed. Nothing’s changed. They still are. Good. And that venom has spilled over into their second album, the aptly-titled Nothing Violates This Nature.

A short burst of violent stabs to open the album and APMD’s grind, black and death metal-laced hardcore is beating us into bloody submission, slowing only for a few strategic body blows for the coda before finishing us off with a quick blast of hardcore violence. You may well be exhausted after the first three minutes of this thirty two minute album but APMD aren’t letting anybody off lightly. ‘Silencer’ is a bruiser, as is ‘Primitive Fear’, but it’s with ‘Bloodlines’ that the band’s innovation begins to emerge. A slow, pedal-tone intro, the tempo dragged down, brick-wall chords, and an arpeggiated verse riff beneath the ferocious vocal, this track could bring down buildings. ‘Of Suffering’s atmospheric instrumental introduction is menacing, its dark shadow lingering long as the track takes its time to fully form into the monster that it is. Unadulterated hardcore hell is unleashed with ‘Holy Plague’, the latter part of the track leaning heavily on the melodic strengths of the band, this being quickly set aside for the concentrated blasts that are ‘Aqim Siege’ and ‘Sacred Nothing’. With only ‘Faith Eater’ and ‘Articles of Human Weakness’ to close the album, APMD maintain enough momentum to beat the dead back to life and dead again. Half an hour of undiluted aggression and attitude, nothing could possibly violate this nature.

All Pigs Must Die 20137.5 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Chaos Arise
  2. Silencer
  3. Primitive Fear
  4. Bloodlines
  5. Of Suffering
  6. Holy Plague
  7. Aqim Siege
  8. Sacred Nothing
  9. Faith Eater
  10. Articles Of Human Weakness

 

Centuries – Taedium Vitae

I was under the impression that Florida was a pretty cool place. I’ve seen it on TV. Cloudless blue skies, a lifestyle of leisure activities by day and plush restaurants by night, smiles plastered across the faces of everyone fortunate enough to have been chosen to grace the streets of this paradise on earth. Either Centuries have got the wrong Florida, or the media’s been lying to us all along. I suspect the latter, but to think that it’s no more than a myth perpetuated by advertising and movies is upsetting, to say the least. How could they? Anyway, the début album of this young and hard-working hardcore quartet suggest with all the subtlety of an ejaculating gorilla that all’s not well in the sunny state.

‘Incipit Tragoedia’ fades in slowly, all but a harsh guitar chord polluting the air, then with ‘Caeruleus’ the crust/grind-infused hardcore erupts and it’s all over. Figuratively speaking of course, there’s seventeen minutes left to go yet. D-beat violence meets black metal tragedy in a bitch’s brew of unremittingly severe intensity. Vicious in delivery and dark in tone, Centuries’ hybrid sound has a menace all of its own. Whether it’s the rampant riffs, the dissonant chords, the dirty distortion of the bass, the cacophonous pummelling that the drums are dishing out or the ice-cold, razor vocals, this is one heavy, dark and utterly malevolent album. ‘Tabeo’ is an unconventional instrumental, waves of feedback mounting, guitar noise cascading all around, drums pounding in the deep reverberation of the sharp atmosphere, and an unnerving sample to close the track.

Nine songs in twenty minutes pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? With their penchant for dissonance and grating chords, there are a few similarities between some of the tracks but they are overshadowed by the sheer conviction imbued in every nose-breaking beat, every knuckle-shattering riff, and every larynx-lacerating lyric. This is a solid debut and promises much. There’d better be more to come from these guys because if this is anything to go by, it’ll be something phenomenal.

Centuries – Taedium Vitae7 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Incipit Tragoedia
  2. Caeruleus
  3. Gelu
  4. Metus
  5. Pessum Ire
  6. Tabeo
  7. Grave Cordibus
  8. Servisse
  9. Irrita

 

Dead In The Dirt – Blind Hole

Southern Lord must have put on a competition or something to see who could write the shortest and most concentrated slab of straight-to-the-point music ever because, hands down, Atlanta’s Dead In The Dirt must have been the winners. With twenty two tracks in as many minutes, to DITD, time is of the essence. Being vegan, straight-edge atheists must do that to you. With a philosophy so distinct and demanding, subtlety is not a factor, and neither does subtlety feature in their music.

It’d be easy for a band to blast their ire for twenty seconds at a time but that’d result in twenty replicas of one twenty second salvo. Not DITD. Every track has its own character, its own nuances, its own purpose as part of the greater whole, and so the album has a fuller, more complete feel to it than those that tend toward the blast for blasts-sake approach. Turn away for a moment though and you might just miss it. Blind Hole is that rare beast where, though the message is clear (or as clear as it can be on such a savage album), with repeat plays, there’s much more to be discovered in its grimy depths. What they compress into the shorter tracks is given more space in the longer tracks and retains both the potency and intensity that makes them so fucking damaging. If you like your grind, this is a more than worthy addition to your collection, but if you like your grind to do something different, then this is a must. Get it.

8 out of 10

Dead In The Dirt - Blind HoleTrack Listing:

  1. Suffer
  2. The Blaring Eye
  3. Swelling
  4. Strength Through Restraint
  5. Idiot Bliss
  6. You Bury Me
  7. Skullbinding
  8. Mask
  9. Cop
  10. No Chain
  11. Will Is The War
  12. Baggar
  13. One More Day
  14. The Pit Of Me
  15. Caged
  16. Starve
  17. Vein
  18. Pitch Black Tomb
  19. The Last Nail
  20. Two Flames
  21. Knife In The Feathers
  22. Halo Crown

 

Power Trip – Manifest Decimation

The first thing that hits you about this debut album from this Texan crossover quintet is the production. With Nick Stewart’s rhythm guitar foregrounded in the mix, everything else is drenched in reverb. Chris Ush’s drums sound far too distant, their impact felt more as an after effect rather than a punch in the gut; Blake Ibanez’s lead guitar work too bubbles up from somewhere in the middle distance; and Riley Gale’s vocals could have been bellowed from the bottom end of some shitty sewer, a microphone wrapped in a cloth drenched in discharge. Where Chris Wetzel’s bass went is anybody’s guess. That they were trying to give the album a big, “old school” sound is obvious, but with the reverb pumping away, the album is swamped in too much murk to let the songs have the desired effect.

Speed is the order of the day with a few mid- and down-tempo dirges chucked in for good measure. ‘Manifest Decimation’ and ‘Heretic’s Fork’ kick the doors in with their relentless thrust and fierce riffing, ‘Conditioned To Death’ maintaining the intensity level until its half-time coda collapses into an odd atmospheric keyboard swell. By now it’s pretty clear what to expect of Power Trip and their crossover worship. The lead work of ‘Murderer’s Row’ is suitably maniacal; ‘Crossbreaker’ and ‘Drown’ bring the tempo down, lacing the heavy grooves with 80s thrash and hardcore attitude, the latter shifting up into the high gears in the second half of the track and bringing more of Ibanez’s lunatic lead work with it; and following the barbarism of ‘Power Trip’, the six-minute ‘The Hammer Of Doubt’ has the band pulling out all the stops and drawing on every aspect of their sound for a pretty gruesome track.

There’s a bunch of stuff in here that we’ve heard before and so can sound more like a pastiche rather than anything innovative. Pick any of the bands associated with the crossover genre and it won’t be long before you find them in here. But of course that’s inevitable when working within a genre whose heyday has long gone. Shitty sound aside, this is some seriously good crossover. It’s filthy, bleak, heavy, and infectious and with lyrics saturated in anti-authoritarian sentiment and the DIY individualism of punk, Power Trip have got the riffs and the attitude to do some significant damage. It’s just a shame about the sound…

Power Trip - Manifest Decimation6.5 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Manifest Decimation
  2. Heretic’s Fork
  3. Conditioned To Death
  4. Murderer’s Row
  5. Crossbreaker
  6. Drown
  7. Power Trip
  8. The Hammer Of Doubt