ASRA
The Way of All Flesh

Although the name ASRA sounds like an obscure piece of Buddhist meditation jargon, it’s simply an acronym for Alleged Satanic Ritual Abuse. (Which, for some reason, brings to mind Lou Diamond Phillips in The First Power.) And even if they’re Black Box’s newest grind signing, ASRA is looking firmly backwards towards a more classic sound.

Quick, murderous and to the point, The Way of All Flesh hammers out a little over 20 minutes’ worth of grindcore laced with old-school death metal. You know the sound – a frantic ratatat of drums doing carpetbombing runs over scrambling low-end churn. Production and mix, courtesy of Scott Hull, sounds purposely raw and echoey, as if pulled from the underground of yesteryear. It hits that nostalgia, but nothing made my balls shudder the way some solid modern output can.

Vocals are where things get dicey, although this may just be personal preference. The coarse death grunts are just a step above a burble – appropriately old-school and serviceable. They frequently crank to a heightened shriek, though, and while it’s a welcome variance at first, they get so choppy that it borders on comedic. It’s like a kung fu gremlin chattering in your ears – “Yayayayah!!” Some may find that these maniac vocals add a chaotic and insane edge to the tracks, but I just found them annoying, to the point where they became a distraction from the rest of the music. On slower tracks like “Untitled”, where ASRA slows down to more of a steady groove, the shrieked vocals actually fit better – they’re not as haphazard and provide a good contrast to the measured pace. Overall though, I had to grit my teeth and wait for them to go away every time they started up.

Ultimately, The Way of All Flesh does what it came to do – it’s just nothing new or adventurous. Maybe it’s just that I like my grindcore with a bit more thought and complexity (Carcass, Dying Fetus) and far less jabbering (which is odd for a black metal fan), but for those with short attention spans, a love of monkeys or a fondness for the simpler, more brutal side of grindcore, this is some Flesh you might want to sink your teeth into.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
June 12th, 2008

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