Below the Grief

I’ve been following this Mexican murder crew sporadically from a distance for several years and I’ll be damned if their fourth LP, Below the Grief, isn’t the one that has me hooked and obsessed for good.  Zombiefication pulls out every murky, mucky, mean and melodic stop on this blistering combination of frost-lunged blackened blasting, burly death/thrash/grind and circle-pitting crust punk.  It’s fuckin’ ornery as hell with great writing and songs with plenty of shifts and unexpected swerves.  Oh yeah, they’re only a 2-piece, like Machetazo they move a lot of ground operating on a skeletal line-up.

Opener “Blood Falls” reminds me plenty of the fuckin’ amazing Come back from the Dead’s The Coffin Earth’s Entrails.  This is one of those songs (and records in general) where a reviewer’s job is tough.  They pack a bunker-full of bastardized brutality into a tune that just misses the 6 minute milestone marker.  A ghostly blast beat and spectral tremolo picked riffs compliment flickering light melody guitars, all of which had me hooked from the get go.  From there the duo vaults across chest-beating crust with shredding catchy riffage, chaotic old school death metal breaks (with double-bass to boot), strep throat vocal shouts and classic percussive d-beat straight out of the Discharge/Skitsystem book…there’s very little downtime and even some of those atonal, Norwegian swipes reappear albeit in a doomier, crawlier manner.  A few harmonized guitar licks also further the band’s kitchen sink filled with broken glass and razor wire approach.  I think fans of the dark side of Swedish death could even get down on this; the melodies are cemented into place but I’d certainly say this is cut from a more violent and turbulent musical cloth.  “Deliverance from the Astral Sea” kicks off with a cutthroat, Celtic Frost styled creep with some sludgy dissonance balancing out the shearing n’ sharp black metallic bladestorm.  The overall pace is pummeled into a hulking mid-tempo that eventually kicks up and takes off without warning into a walloping speed burst that’s equal parts frigid darkness, ruthless death and mutated, DIY punk.  Lots of shifty, climbing thrash/death flavored riffs are infectious and well-played while those hoarse, rabid vocals just hit my ears in the sweet spot for this kinda stuff.  They even work in doom-y clean segments with a lot of psyched-out flavor on the guitars and some fume belching bass drops that go down deep into the abyss.

“Echoes of Light” has a rumbling, quaking 90s Neurosis bent to the bubbling, boiling tom drums and the vast caverns of slimy, immaculately toned sleaze guitars that truly whip the brain cells into a frenzied fever sweat.  Guitarist/bassist Mr. Jacko really has his tone and writing down to a finely ground pulp.  Slowly palm-muted, slashing riffs interrupted by discordant noise-spires unleash a greasy, gravelly slow-mo thrash punctuated by Mr. Hitchcock’s scumbucket vocal shouts.  There’s a boatload of atmosphere to this track and when they let loose with blasting speed insanity it stomps your head in and pops your heart with a manic glee that sticks out from a crowded pack of bands (in my humble estimation).  There’s some serious rotten 6-string stench in the death metal drum pulverization and blood-lathered guitar dirt in the beginning moments of “From Death to its Son.”  The urgent, hurried pacing and grinding assault reminds me of the doom-y vibes of Incantation or Entombed ripped a few notches faster while oozing from the hole in an old, rotten oak tree.  A balance between thickness and blackened decay eventually lead-up to ascending death-y grooves that oppositely descend into a scathing, abrasive doom hobble with freaky noisy guitar ambiance and slothful tempos sending this 8+ monster into a blood red sky of gratuitous morbidity.  It’s my favorite track on the record…a powerful piece that never lets up for a minute.  This song couldn’t be a better set-up for “Heavy is the Crown,” another top-tier slice of butchery that begins slovenly and slavering but eventually ratchets up into a furious speed freak fest with throatier, more bile-crusted vocals coming into play as the music keeps switching shit up when you need it most.  They also fuck with aquatic psychedelics yet again.  Rounding this motherfucker out, “Hunger is Undying” and “Sky Burial” are also sprawling compositions with several sections.  I’m outta fuckin’ adjective ammo, just take my word for it if you like this kind of skullduggery, every song brings the pain on this beast.

Zombiefication have stepped up their writing, playing and recording game, delivering the best album of their career in Below the Grief.  I could see Deceased fans getting into this thing as well but there’s a wide appeal to fans of crusty, blistering, unrelentingly heavy shit all around.  Their writing encompasses a big chunk of the underground.  Truth be told, I can’t get enough of this record and am already hugely excited to see where they’ll go next.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
October 4th, 2018


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