Swiss grindcore legion Mumakil take their name from the gigantic, elephant-like creatures that appear in the Lord of the Rings novels. Also known as Oliphaunts (as the Hobbits of middle-earth refer to them) these 6-tusked monstrosities come from the jungles of Far Harad and are often ridden into battle, covered in armour and even more spikes, by the Haradrim. They are just as magical, and just as terrible, as dragons. It is from these beasts that Mumakil draw their name, and from their lineage hope to extract a sense of heaviness, ferocity, and steer trampling power. Their third full-length, Flies Will Starve, certainly plays like a stampede. At just over thirty-five minutes, this record is composed of twenty-four tracks that do their absolutely best to crush and grind the listener underfoot. While the assault is concentrated and fierce, it is not without a few, spare pauses for gasping breath, with effectively breaks up the onslaught and allows the listener just enough desperate finger holds. Grind is always faced with the challenge of balancing punishing intensity against listenability, and Mumakil do this extremely well.
The percussion forms the anchor and the structure that keeps the monstrous edifice of Flies Will Strave from tumbling down. Oppressive and relentless, it is not as rickety or unhinged as a lot of grind drumming, laying a strung structural foundation to the brief, blistering songs. This also allows the guitars to gallop off in their own deranged directions without risking the songs entirely fracturing apart, like wild horses tearing apart a body.
A strong central riff is key to the success of the best songs here, as “Get Exorcised” and “Let The World Burn” clearly illustrate. Many of the riffs, especially on the former track, have a crawling, clawing attraction to them, a surprising amount of hook and catch. There’s an irresistible draw, an urgency that compels the listener to pay keen attention rather than flinching away.
The mood of Flies Will Starve is relentlessly, unequivocally mean. The listener can’t shake the sense that Mumakil are forever waiting for a moment of weakness, when they can snake a knife between your ribs. Many of the songs are designed to make you feel awful about aspects of your life, such as single “Wrong Turn” that is entirely devoted to the futility and awful entrapment of full-time work and poor life choices, while the (unfortunately ableist-titled) “Fucktards Parade” is devoted to all the incredibly terrible people who make your life a little more miserable every day, but upon whom no vengeance will ever be exacted. If you need to stoke your rage for any reason, Flies Will Starve is a great poker.