By the time you read this, the new year will already be in full swing, and judging by this album’s release date, AMG industries is already struggling to keep up. Expect the Record(s) o’ the Month to be late. I’m writing this review way back in 2016, and already the overlords have yoked me with a band you’ve never heard of, though by the looks of that cover, the music won’t be too unpredictable.1 This one is called Brain Spasm and they’re no strangers to groove, gore, and gutturals, but as any red-blooded Slamerican can attest, their presence alone does not a good album make. It’s all about how they mix together in the great melting pot of human flesh.
Brain Spasm bill themselves as goregrind, but the slow tempos and chunky riffs of Toxic Monstrosities place it solidly within slam territory, and therefore, Kronos territory. “Toxic-Creation” puts the band’s best riffing in the fore, with chromatic chuggery punctuated by a couple of prowling bass breaks. It’s heavy as hell and stupidly violent. Follow-up “Consume” breaks out the blast beats and ends in a short but serious slam under extremely raspy, somewhat buried vocals. There aren’t a lot of neck-snapping riffs on the EP, but when they do show up, Brain Spasm really shines.
In an EP full of sub-two-minute tracks, there’s not much bloat, but at times there’s very little to hang on to. The opening and closing samples of these songs tend to be their most memorable moments, which is bad news for the band. Even the longest song, “Zombie Blood Nightmare (1)” feels underdeveloped, and the band’s writing simply isn’t fast or catchy enough to carry through on momentum alone. There’s a slipperiness to these songs. When I first heard the EP I was pleasantly surprised, and it grew on me for some time, but subsequent listens have only highlighted its shortcomings. That being said, most of it is good fun while it lasts, and that’s what one should expect out of a slam release; silly, soupy, and with enough groove to get you out of your seat every once in a while.
Like any slam album, this thing is loud and boomy and sounds kind of crap. However, the biggest sonic weakness is in the instrumentation. In short, Toxic Monstrosities suffers from a crippling weakness of snare. Brain Spasm‘s first mistake here was turning it on; slam drummers, do you see those little wiry things stretched across the bottom of your snare? For the love of all that is brutal, take them off and sell them to somebody who plays wimpier music. You do not need them for your set, but I know for a fact that you do need the money. Once you’ve done that, tune the instrument up nice and high and make sure the heads aren’t in tune with each other. Follow these steps, and you, too, can be more brutal than Brain Spasm.
With that one exception, Toxic Monstrosities is the quintessential underground slam/goregrind EP. It’s short, sordid, and about twenty percent samples by volume. The album cover makes no sense, and neither do the pitch-shifted vocals. The aesthetic is all there, and Brain Spasm have no intention of subverting it; they color inside the lines but do a surprisingly crisp job of it. With a more developed sound and better riffing, the band would have quite charmed me, but at the end of the day, Toxic Monstrosities is a serviceable but not particularly exciting release that’s good for a few spins of stupid fun.