You may have noticed a tendency of the AMG staff to carp, whine and bitch about albums being too long and including too much filler. It’s a sad truism that because CDs are capable of holding 75 minutes of tuneage, way too many bands think they have 75 minutes worth of quality music when usually…they don’t. Mammoth Grinder are the exception to that rule and their Underworlds album clocks in at a lean, mean twenty-eight minutes and it feels as refreshing as a bath in a mountain lake. Though they began life as a hardcore sludge/doom act, they abruptly switched over to Swedish influenced, D-beat, crusty death on their Extinction of Humanity album. The expected Entombed and Dismember influences are present and accounted for here, but they also work in some elements of grind, early American death and even proto-death like Possessed. Hell, I even hear some Streetcleaner-era Godflesh in the sound. From go to stop Underworlds pulverizes with simple, short and bruising blasts of crust death. It’s very heavy (like a mammoth) and it’s all over in a flash. No dross, offal or dregs, just ass-kicking death and they’re out! Ahhhh!
This a really simple kind of record. Each song shows its cards quickly, uncorks a fat, ugly riff or two, beats you about the head, neck, chest and buttocks with it and calls it a day. No tune overstays its welcome and each has a memorable moment or several. While it’s typically nasty, mid-tempo Swede death like a billion other albums, the punky hardcore feel of it makes it just different enough to sound relatively fresh (in a stale, moldy kinda way).
Tracks like “Underworlds” scream along like true Left Hand Path wannabes, but Chris Ulsh’s screams and roars sound like Jeff Becerra (Possessed) and at times the riffs remind of something Massacre or even Autopsy would dream up. The raw, corkscrewing riffs on “Paragon Pusher” are quite satisfying, as is the Toxic Holocaust-esque thrash assault during “Cogs in the Machine.” They go for a more sludgy, ominous vibe during “Roperide” and veer close to Cathedral territory during closer “Moral Crux” and everything seems to work for them. Simplicity is their cudgel and they wield it with deadly efficiency.
While I enjoy Ulsh’s throat-rending delivery, Underworlds is really all about the guitars and how much shit they can bulldoze into you over the album’s brief runtime. Ulsh and Wade Allison excel at writing heavy, tank-busting riffs that feel like they were designed to level earth for some evil, concrete highway to Hell. Every single song has its own monstrous riff and each feels big enough to grind the titular mammoth. The solos are all chaotic and have an old school 80s thrash vibe full of whammy abuse and feedback aplenty (check out the playing throughout “Cogs”). Alex Hughes brings a fat, rumbling bass sound that shakes the speakers and provides a wonderfully edgy low-end to the crust pie and Brian Boeckman pounds the kit into submission while showing a deft hand at grind-style playing in the slower moments.
The mix is soupy and almost shitty, but feels perfectly suited to the maelstrom of madness they bring to the world. The guitars and bass sound huge and threatening and while the vocals are too full of reverb and relegated to the background, the mix works in that old school way we all love.
Short, sweet and shitty sounding IS the way to go through life, son. If you need your ass kicked quickly and without preamble, refinement, samples or frills, dial “M” for Mammoth Grinder. Ponderous, fucking ponderous.