Congregations of Grind

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It is without a doubt in my mind that Pakistan’s crust/grind champions Multinational Corporations are the best new grind band of the last decade.  I’d stake my reputation, house and hell my balls on it!  Taking their name from a blistering cut off of Napalm Death’s Scum classic, the duo of Hassan (vocals/words) and Sheraz (all instruments) do it in the same old school fashion as the legends from which they culled their namesake.

 Fans of Phobia, Excruciating Terror, Terrorizer, Extreme Noise Terror, Dystopia and all of the bands that molded the genre should go absolutely nuts for these guys.  With a killer EP Jamat-al-Maut in circulation and a brand new split 7” on the horizon, it was high time I sat down with the band for a long overdue interview.  Grind your fuckin’ heads in, gang! 

Shit fellas, it’s been awhile but I’m glad to finally put this one together.  So Sheraz, Hassan, how did you two meet up and thusly form the band?  Was there initial chemistry right off the bat and common goal to just make some real grindcore straight from the gut? 

Hassan:  We met at a gig I put on in a friend’s backyard back in 2010.  He was there with his band Dionysus, I was there with my band Foreskin. Turned out we were both into 70’s Judas Priest and that’s how we got to know each other.  It took us a while for MxCx to begin, Sheraz joined Foreskin before that, and we decided to form Multinational Corporations as a silly side project to our main bands, full of political shit talking about immolating parliaments and stuff.

Sheraz:  MxCx’s formation was really random and we were just having fun and cussing out random shit in the beginning.  We got more serious as the years passed by.  Hassan and I have had same musical and ideological views since the beginning and our goal has always been to write some sick memorable music that would outlast us.

Judas Priest is truly the stuff that builds and forms real relationships.  Dionysus kicks ass.  Everybody reading this review should check that stuff out as well…back on point..  Obviously, the band name is a nod to a song from one of the greatest grind albums of all-time.  How big of an influence was the Scum album and Napalm Death in general on your project?  Also what are some of your favorite ND albums across their career and do you guys like the “death metal” era?  I for one actually love Harmony Corruption, Diatribes and Inside the Torn Apart.  That era sometimes takes more shit than it actually deserves.  

Sheraz:  Napalm Death has always been a really huge influence on my music.  Scum and From Enslavement to Obliteration are one of the monumental records in my books and their death metal era also had some classick moments as well.  Harmony Corruption is one of my favorite death metal records of all times!

Hassan:  Napalm Death is a life-changing act for me.  My favorite album is definitely a toss-up between Scum and FETO, with the split with SOB and Mentally Murdered EP coming in close too.  Their death metal era was nice and they’ve been consistent throughout their career, no matter what style they chose to uphold.  To me, they’ll always be a special act, a gateway into alternative lifestyles.  

I can’t argue with anything said there.  I’m a huge ND fan, and they are still probably the most punishing live band I’ve ever seen.  What are some of your other biggest musical inspirations behind Multinational Corporations?  We’ve talked about this some in private but let’s share for the readers.  Hassan, I know you’re a big Disrupt fan like me.  Name a few other bands and albums that really forged your style and make you want to pick up and play this music.  

Sheraz:  First of all, Celtic fucking Frost!  That band forms the foundation of our music.  Apart from them, Disrupt, Napalm Death, Terrorizer, Agothacles, Brutal Truth, Driller Killer, Morbid Angel, Nails, Integrity, Black Breath etc.  Basically a lot of stuff!

Hassan:  Our influences go across the board.  A slew of primitive 80’s metal/punk, scathing 90’s hardcore/grind, as well as a few contemporary heavy music acts.  Don’t be surprised if you hear a bit of Inquisition or Godflesh in our music either.  We just play heavy shit for people who are into that sort of stuff.

Fuck yeah.  The wild thing is I can hear both Frost and Godflesh in Multi-Corp.  Jamat-al-Maut was an eye opener of an EP for me, because it truly is some of the best old school crusty/grind I’ve heard in years.  I don’t toss praise around like that without meaning it.  You guys’ work is seriously the best I’ve heard in the last decade and sounds straight from the golden era.  First up, can you explain what the album title means/translates to?  

Sheraz:  Thanks man.  It always means a lot coming from someone who knows their shit and actually understands the dynamics of this music.  Really honored!  Jamat-al-Maut translates to Congregation of Death.

Hassan:  The title came up when Aneeq Zaman made this random art back in late 2012, when the band was in hiatus.  He called it “Jamat-al-Maut” and put our logo on it.  I was beyond stoked when he showed it to me, a few days later MxCx was active again – and the art became the rallying cry for the EP.  Essentially, the title means “Congregation of Death” in Urdu, but the ‘al’ is a loan from Arabic, a sarcastic inclusion to show Pakistan’s slow arabization process in the mainstream media over the last few years.  If it was Urdu, it would be Jamat-ul-Maut haha. 

The recording on the EP is badass.  It’s raw as fuck but with plenty of punch to the instruments.  How did the recording process go, did you do everything yourselves initially?  Must have been a lot of work for you Sheraz, I took note that you recorded, mixed and played all of the instruments and then I saw that Jeff Fischer is credited with the initial mastering.    

Sheraz:  Recording for Jamat-al-Maut went really smooth and it was one of the best times in my life cause for straight 4 days, Hassan and I met and worked on new music everyday which later was compiled into the EP.  I recorded all the instruments and mixed it as well.  We later sent it to an old friend Jeff for mastering because he’s really good at it and has worked with/helped us in the past.  

Sheraz, what instruments did you record first and how did you add things as you went along since you’re a madman and recorded all of the guitars, bass and drums?  Damn man, you’re a monster, you did an equally proficient job on everything!  

Sheraz:  Thanks man!  I usually write the guitar parts first then write drum parts over it and later add bass-lines.  It’s a really natural process and I don’t feel like i am being burdened with a lot of work whenever I am recording.  I like to have control over everything and mould it the way it sounds best and heaviest!

Then the mighty Kunal Choksi came along and remastered and remixed the EP for release on Transcending Obscurity, right?  How did the band meet up with him and did you work right alongside him for the remastering…what was the process like for that and what do you feel he added to the sound quality? 

Sheraz:  Kunal only released the re-mastered version and worked on the inlays.  He didn’t contribute to the mastering at all.  I re-mastered it myself and made some changes in some songs like “Stratum Slave” and Jamat-al-Maut. We felt like adding something else to the sonic aspect of the EP since it had already been released on so many labels on tapes and CDs before TO decided to distribute it.  So we thought it’d be better to re-master it for the TO release. 

Hassan, your lyrics kick raw fucking ass man.  There is a vicious political slant to them which I really dig.  I think every country right now is in some type of turmoil and that political lyrics are more relevant than ever.  What is the situation like in Pakistan right now?  Are you lyrics for say a song like “Fuck Your Patriotism” centered on a local or global scale?  I wondered if you draw more inspiration for them from what’s going on in your own country or the world in general.  Things are pretty shitty everywhere, so there is plenty of ammunition to use.  

Hassan:  The inspiration is primarily local.  I’ve had enough time listening to anarcho/crust/grind bands talk about fascism, Nazism, etc in Sweden and Finland, US and UK.  I want to listen to stuff I can directly relate to, which is where the primary inspiration for all my lyrics in MxCx comes from.  A shirt print in Bangladesh that carried the words to “Fuck Your Patriotism” was put out some time back, which makes sense because those folks are living the exact same reality I wrote about in the song.  Including that world’s biggest flag shit.  Hahaha.  It is always nice to see people in other parts of the world relate, at the end of the day we are all from the same wasteland of Mother Earth. 

The songwriting mixed with the unrelenting vocals blows my mind.  You guys really shake things up and then just let it blow up like nitroglycerin.  Fuckin’ love it!  “L.P.C.” is one of my favorites.  What does the abbreviation stand for and how was the song written?  It’s just like a classic crusty punk song…the riffing is catchy as fuck, the rhythms are pounding old school groove and Hassan, you’re using a more gruff, different vocal style.  I think this tune shows just how far back into the vintage punk sound you guys go.  

Hassan:  “L.P.C.” is an abbreviation of an Urdu cuss phrase “Lund Pe Charh.”  It means, sit on my dick.  So if you ever get a desi boss at work and he gives you shit, you can tell him that lol! The lyrics are about me just being pissed off at the world in general. The opening line, “Walking down the street with a chip on my shoulder” – I’d be doing that everyday in Sadar (an area of Lahore where I spent a massive chunk of my life in), paan in my mouth, spitting it out on the streets and walking endlessly into the suffocating cacophony of rickshaws, cars, buses, wagons, cows and fuck knows what else. 

I will be sure to use that phrase next time some dickhead employer fucks me over!  Another favorite of mine is “Penniless Pride.”  Gears shift here into a grimy, crumbling slow-motion doom sound with an almost begotten industrial vibe.  Sheraz, you really nail a melodic lead amongst the filth, Hassan your vocals go fathoms deep and the whole thing is has a fucked up groove/melody to it.  Love that shit!  How was this song written; what parts came first and what was the reaction between you two when it was finished?  Again, you guys show that you can kick complete ass in any style you choose to tackle and it all fits into the framework/ideal of the band’s sound.  

Sheraz:  Haha.  “Penniless Pride” is one of my personal favorites.  That song was written when I was tired of writing faster songs and wanted to make something slow and pounding.  We later threw in a lot of atmosphere to give it that vibe of impending doom and destruction and that melodic lead in the end is just me being myself with the guitar.  You’d find a lot of similar leads in my other songs as well but I put my heart into it.

Hassan:  I just walked in one day from college and he’d finished this badass track.  I listened to it once, and decided to use a recent poem I wrote as lyrics – a lot of MxCx lyrics actually start out as spoken word poetry, in fact.  The lyrics are about the destruction caused by the provincial government at the time while they built roads – destroying businesses, homes as well as ignoring general welfare concerns of the citizens.  The lyrics went perfectly with the song, and vice versa. I think we’d like to make more songs of that nature.  Haunting, desolate, nihilistic.

 “Stratum Slave’ rules with its venomous blasting and traditional grind riffs.  I fuckin’ love the way all of the straight-up grinders are put together.  It’s unbridled fury to the breaking point and then like later on in this track, Sheraz always unleashes a monster groove.  Is that some 90s, mid-tempo death metal groove in action there?  Are you two a fan of Obituary and stuff from the era?  What are the lyrics about in “Stratum Slave?”  Really fuckin’ dig ‘em…feels like a struggle of the classes or something like that.  

Sheraz:  We are big OSDM fans, I collect OSDM CDs and Obituary is one of our all-time favorites but the main root of those grooves is found in the one and only Celtic Frost!

Hassan: I wrote “Stratum Slave’s” lyrics when I was still in school, late teens.  I didn’t have a band back then, nor did I know if it would ever become a song.  I was 21 approaching 22 when I finally got to use it for Multinational Corporations, and I could still relate to it 110%.  The endless pursuit of money is something that has bothered me since I was a little kid playing cricket in the gulleys and it’s something that I hope will continue to bother me for the rest of my existence.

Money is pretty much the most loathsome thing on the planet…only good for buying music and partying!  So, I heard the new song “Jihad” and it chopped my head off with a rusty axe.  Good shit guys!  You have Vrishank Menon playing drums here.  Ah, giving Sheraz a little break!  How did you hook up with him and is he a permanent member of the band moving forward?  

Hassan:  Vrishank is a pal from India.  Me and him shared the same interest in fast punk music like Spazz and Despise You.  We set up a side-project called Atif X Aslam, playing powerviolence exclusively in the Urdu/Hindi language.  I loved his drumming and invited him to do drums for MxCx as well.  He also has his own Hardcore Punk band based in Bombay, India, called Death By Fungi as well as an Emo/Shoegaze project called Little Whales.  Dude’s a talented musician, we’d like to have him on more recordings in the future – he really brings a spontaneous and fun old school punk drumming style into MxCx that fits really well into the type of grind/crust/hardcore stuff we make. 

“Jihad” itself is beyond fuckin’ sick, kicking off with a crusty. thrashing d-beat before going over the sanity line with some of the fastest grind I’ve ever heard from the band.  Fuck yeah!  How did this song come together?  The intensity of the instrumentation is urgent and oppressive and as usual Hassan, the lyrics really present some stark imagery.  Especially love the line, “All rational thought purged by the fear of everlasting fire. Yet, I will not yield.  My blade against yours.  Never to succumb. And this is my Jihad.”  That’s no fuckin’ around there…how did the inspiration come on for this one? 

Hassan:  We were told to come up with a song under 1 minute 15 seconds for the split with Matka Teresa.  So we just went all out.  The lyrics are about standing up for yourself in an oppressive environment.  Don’t take no shit.  Stand tall, stand proud.  You’re not alone in this Jihad. 

The release is a pretty special edition split; a lathe cut, 6” vinyl!  This will have the pleasure of being the very first 6” in my collection.  I didn’t even know such a thing existed.  How did you the band get involved with Extreme Terror Production and what was the idea behind such a unique format?  

Hassan:  Such unique formats exist as a rare niche in some underground circles.  Extreme Terror Productions have been allies since last year.  I got in touch with Martin, the guy who runs the label, through my mince/grind band Kafir-e-Azam, and he eventually released MxCx’s Jamat-al-Maut on tape as well as featuring us on the Grind N’ Violence compilation.  He then talked about doing the split and we were instantly down for it.  He’s a very nice and easy fellow to work with, in fact one of the coolest people in the European grindcore scene. 

Matka Teresa occupies the other side of the split.  I’ll have to check them out later.  What’s their sound like and how do they match up with Multi-Corp? 

Hassan:  Matka Teresa is the grindcore band of the guy who runs Extreme Terror Production. They’ve been veterans of the Dutch grind circle for a while, and have quite an arsenal of splits.  If you’re into old Agathocles, Warsore, Rot, and other similar bands, you’re gonna love them.

I’ll keep my eyes open.  All of that stuff is grind violence I’m personally into.  What other new tunes are in the works and how are they shaping up?  Is the band planning on a full album in the future?  Hassan, you were telling me about another new song that has a Frost/EHG/Sabbath vibe…of course you know that had me jumpin’ out of my seat.  Ha ha ha.  When and on what format will that song see a release?  

Hassan:  We do plan on doing a full length at some point in time, but we don’t know when we will.  The timing would have to be absolutely right.  In the meantime, we’re planning a few splits, maybe that song we talked about will see a release haha.  Apart from the Matka Teresa 6” split, the only other split we’ve announced is a split with Bangladeshi death metal band Warhound.  That’ll be a much more substantial split, with 6-8 minutes on either side, out sometime by the end of this year.  There are 2 splits thought of for our 2016 assault, but nothing we’d announce yet until it’s finalized. 

Do you guys get to play out live at all?  Who is in the live version of the band and what other bands do you usually gig with?  What type of beating can one expect from a Multi-Corp show, I can imagine it being loud as hell!    

Hassan:  We have a rotating slot for live musicians. We’ve played live twice since releasing the EP last year.  Opportunities to play live come very few and far between in Pakistan, due to a lack of venues.  MxCx live shows are quite fun and spontaneous.  There are live videos on our Facebook. 

What plans are in the future of Multi-Corp?  Any tours happening or anything else?  I sure as hell hope we can bring you guys to the US someday.  Hopefully, I’ll get to be involved in that.  We’ll work on a plan for damn sure, and I’ll buy the first bottle of whiskey!  

Hassan: Yup, we have some regional tour plans but let’s see how they pan out.  We definitely do want to hit up the States at some point.  Us Pakistanis are known for our alcoholic “bethaks” so it’ll be interesting getting my drink on in some place where it ain’t illegal to do so hahaha! 

Well guys I think that’s all I have.  Thanks a ton for doing this interview with me.  I can’t wait to hear whatever Multi-Corp does next.  This band does us grinders proud.  You bring it in a way that is authentic and legitimate.  Feel free to throw in some closing comments in this space!  Grind on!      

Hassan:  Thanks for the opportunity.


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