Gristnam
Even Less LP

That special, swampy brand of metal that only seems to come from New Orleans is a sound I just can’t deny.  Even whenever the musical genre in question happens to be grind/death metal you can always expect a murkier, muddier take on the style if it’s Louisiana bred.  Gristnam features members of doom grinders Haarp as well as former inmates who served time in Rat in a Bucket.  Their vinyl debut comes courtesy of Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records, and it’s a heaping, sickly sweet smelling compost pile of sludge, hardcore, death metal, grind and sheer overpowering chaos.  The feel here is almost directly rooted in influences culled from their mates of state…plenty of Soilent Green vibes circa Pussysoul and A String of Lies, dissonant Crowbar crawls, the blackened plague of Goatwhore, the vile death metal of Suture and the twisted song structures of Abuse.  It’s all in there, and admirably adopted into a thick, dirty mudbath of well-stewed malice, yet after a few listens the record doesn’t quite reach the heights I was hoping for.

“Etch and Burn” opens with infected, piss-fed grind riffs, plummeting low-end drops and Keith Sierra Jr’s demonic blast beats that battle for turf against Shaun Emmons’ coagulated shouts, growls and barks.  Shaun’s about as close as you can to Ben Falgoust without actually BEING Ben Falgoust but it works in favor of the Bourgeois brothers’ nascent twin axe assault which runs the gamut from razorwire grind to stuttering doom-y hardcore to death metal sweeps with plenty of pure unholy sludge in the classic NOLA riff tradition.  I wouldn’t call this an original take on the genre per say as the reference points stack up quicker than the bodies in the band’s wake, but these cats are forceful, fearsome n’ possessed in the way they play.  No pretending to be found here.

Full of hardcore stops n’ starts borrowed from vintage beatdown, “Column” greases its mosh-pit ideals with gloom and breaks a few axles in a tarpit of dank stank sludge that obliterates everything in its path.  The vocals rip into higher screams with the entire focus sticking to a rigorous mid-tempo churl.  Even when the double-bass pounds like soldiers’ boots on the shores of hostile hard country the entire effect is weighted and controlled.  A quick blastbeat burst clears the high ground for the divebomb dirge of John Miskimmin’s dinosaur shit doused bass lines which pretty much level any remaining human structures in view.  At the opposite end of the pole, “Embedded” rarely has time to come up for air, mincing its way through treacherous grindcore peaks and dredging the valleys for every last drop of sludgy, black lung tar.

The title track is like death metal that somebody left to spoil in the fridge, and now it’s besieged by maggots, a pungent mold stench and a sense of creeping illness that will sicken the unlucky bastard who happens to eat it on accident.  Everything is wrapped in a suffocating package of discordant, despondent semi-melodic doom riffing (heavily Crowbar-tinged especially around the 2 minute mark), shambling double-kick drumming and guttural vocal spew that makes for one of the album’s finest, most memorable rumblers.  Quaking and splitting the soil between equal divisions of hardcore-molested sludge n’ dingy grindcore, “Load/Depressed” blows by at such a clip you barely have a moment to get your bearing in the maelstrom’s heart.  “Wake” leads in on a downtrodden, near d-beat stomp yet can’t manage its murderous intent to grind and sludge like an apocalypse on a Sunday morning.

Other cuts such as “Copperhead,” “Cells,” “Riding Home,” “Wallow,” and “Oak Tunnel” reek of Soilent Green’s formative material before they found their signature groove on Sewn Mouth Secrets.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re heavy hitters but at this point in the record the pummeling starts to get mighty similar.  It’s kind of a shame because once you’ve become accustomed to the relentlessness of the album’s first half; you find that it changes VERY little in the later stages.  It would have been nice to hear a drawn-out, dying in molasses closer but nothing really happens and the track lengths remain short and to the point.

So, overall Even Less is a bludgeoning, deliciously destructive record, though it could use more identity in a crowded pack of contenders.  The power on display is certainly welcome, and these guys have a penchant for untold acts of violence.  It’s disappointing because you quickly realize that the best tracks are at the beginning, leaving the remainder a blur with some parts you might enjoy, but will have trouble recalling even after the 5th or 6th listen.  Still, Gristnam have a wealth of potential to tap, so there’s the endless possibility for growth.  As it stands, this is still worth a check for that distinctive NOLA decimation, I just hope for enough distinctiveness to sustain an entire full-length next time around.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
March 10th, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    “besieged by maggots.” best phrase of the century.


  2. Commented by: Jay

    Thanks Nick!


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