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Amber Gray

I knew nothing about this prior to putting it in, but the short track lengths clued me in that it would either be something experimental and ambient, or maybe grindcore.

It’s grindcore alright, but executed with the speed and ferocity of black metal – like Anaal Nathrakh covering Slayer at double-time. Now, grind sometimes devolves into a spastic battery of blastbeats and interchangeable riffs, but each track on Amber Gray is tight, technical and offers a wealth of sharp, vicious riffs. Despite the abbreviated running time, there’s a lot going on here – so much great stuff that I wish they’d have let the songs go on longer. It’s amazing that they can pack so much progression and flow into these brutal little compositions, but without ever losing your attention – hell, there’s no time to do that.

If there’s one thing that does get old here, it’s Jon Chang’s (ex-Discordance Axis) vocals – harsh, psychotic and painfully constant. Remember the scene in Day of the Dead where one of Rhodes’ men gets his head torn off by a pack of zombies? Remember how his gargled scream modulated in pitch as his vocal cords stretched and tore? Well, freeze that note just before the final tear, and then set that on repeat. It’s definitely a shock at first, but the unwavering speed and high presence in the mix soon makes it kinda tiresome. Some more variance – or an occasional break – would’ve helped here, but again, probably no time for that.

HydraHead is offering this release at full-price, which I guess is de rigeur for grind, despite the length (12 minutes). Still, it’s impressive to see so much technicality and flow packed into such a compact experience.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
June 22nd, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: James

    Great musicianship. Pity about the way it’s presented in such short snippets and as you say the vocals are a nuisance.


  2. Commented by: Dan

    Jeezuz this is brutal.


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