Vulgar Pigeons
Imperialism

It’s always hard reviewing a genre you don’t particularly get, but when graced with power metal, grim black metal or grindcore, I try my best to be objective and at least recognize ability and talent no matter the genre. However, in the case of grindcore, a few releases have found their way into my album collection; Pig Destroyer, Rotten Sound, Morgue and a handful of others deliver enough to warrant my interest – albeit short lived.

So enter Willowtip, who have been on an absolute tear over the last few months with Watchmaker, Arsis and Goatsblood throwing shit on their respective genres, but their offering by offering the Bay Area’s Vulgar Pigeons into the grindcore/crust field is slightly less impressive. Not really my cup of tea, but more than likely a must have for grindcore fans as it contains all the grindcore requisites: ridiculously amounts of songs crammed into a short time, screamed/burped vocals, chaotic power chords and a few grooves, Vulgar Pigeons are competent in their style. To be truthful, the main vocals of Dave Leyva are more of a throaty hardcore scream, although bassist Paul Pontikioff delivers a barely audible subterranean bellow fairly frequently, but overall the weakness of this album is the vocals that don’t quite match the ferocious delivery of other grindcore acts that make me generally uncomfortable.

Musically, I wouldn’t classify this as top notch grindcore, but certainly has a few quirks and shifts to make it an above average listen. With the usual off kilter lyrical stance littered with political and social messages, Vulgar Pigeons complete their fairly standard grindcore take on sonic extremity, but at the end of the day it’s not as pleasing or as genre expanding as prior Willowtip releases. I gave Imperialism many listens (hence the delay of this review) hoping for some light to come on or some switch to activate that made this require the depth of listening as say label mates Hara-kiri or Commit Suicide, whereby initial listens don’t reveal the true depth of the material. But nothing happened.

The longest song, “Blot of Humanity,” veers into a more complex intriguing mix of styles, but while I enjoyed the brief musical tangent of its midpoint, it stood out as slightly awkward rather than symbiotically experimental. The punkish gait of “Attack of the Bullet Belt Committee” also seems slightly out of place amid the general chaos and noise of “Depleted Uranium,” “Whitetrash Compactor” and “Refuse to Salute.” Vulgar Pigeons lack the pure caustic intensity of Pig Destroyer and the catchy grindcore power chords of Birdflesh, but lay somewhere awkwardly in between.

Maybe Willowtip has raised expectations too high with their recent offerings, but Vulgar Pigeons doesn’t raise the bar like Arsis or leave it dripping with fecal matter like Goatsblood. Its production is a little flat, sapping some of groove of its power, and the drums are a little canned. Still, a solid grindcore album for fans of the genre.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 24th, 2004

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