Birdflesh – Sickness in the North Review

Swedish goofballs Birdflesh return with another fun, uproarious and colorful explosion of old school grind on their sixth LP, Sickness in the North. The veteran trio smash out the follow-up to 2019’s thoroughly enjoyable, Extreme Graveyard Tornado, and all is good in the grind world. Once again Birdflesh embrace the sillier side of grindcore with feverish glee and streams of black humor, encased within twenty-three tracks of offbeat mayhem. Although the band has garnered a cult following over the years and never take themselves too seriously, the well-crafted grindcore Birdflesh create speaks volumes of their solid writing, abundance of sweet riffs, and tight instrumental chops. Some four years on from their last LP endeavor, how does Sickness in the North compare, and is it worth your hard-earned cash and time?

Folks enamored with Birdflesh’s previous offerings and most recent slab of concentrated aggression and humor-laced fare will find little to turn them off throughout the deliciously fiendish and oddball Sickness in the North. Spiked with guest spots, including Exhumed legend Matt Harvey, trademark exuberance and explosive riffcraft, Birdflesh rip and tear through another zany batch of tight, catchy tuneage with the goof-o-meter cranked to the max. Twenty-three tracks in under half an hour make for a fast, furious but accessible grind experience, again demonstrating Birdflesh’s ability to uphold the gnarled, extreme grind attributes with songwriting and humor to reel in listeners not necessarily on board the grind train.

Unhealthy servings of thrash, old school death, punk, blackened shavings and absurd vocal variations and melodies add weight to the grindy madness, evidenced on such addictive nuggets as “Gorespring,” “Hammer Smashed Japanese Face,” “Chained to the Wok,” “Chainsaw Frenzy,” “Funeral Orgy,” “Amputee Admiration,” “Balcony Piss” and the ludicrously over-the-top, Viking/black pisstake, “I Will Never Rot,” amidst an overall solid collection. It’s a diverse album, with outside influences coloring the wacky Birdflesh grind with loads of chunky riffs, deathly embellishments, stomping grooves, and manic, well-designed solos delivering sweet moments of gleeful shred. Gris Stian Røvkletil is an underrated guitarist on the grind scene with riffs to burn, while the multi-pronged vocal attack coupled with the excellent rhythmic work from drummer Kyrk Brenner and bass player Tryne Krekvind form a dynamic and skilled power trio.

Even when certain songs fail to deliver to the same catchy, ripping standards of the stronger cuts on the album, Sickness in the North is too much fun to quibble too deeply on the less impactful tunes. For instance, among all the unabashed fun and games, Sickness in the North gets a little too silly at times, with “Fat Pigs” and “All Inclusive” intentionally ramping up the jokey, absurd components of their sound, though lack the sharper edges and naturally catchy aspects of the Birdflesh formula. Although quality never dips dramatically, there is an argument the first half is a little stronger, however, with the blistering speed and easily digestible hooks readily punched out across the album, Sickness in the North is a tough and cheeky blast of grind that consistently entertains. Solid production features punchy, organic tones and authoritative bass nestled within a well-balanced mix, affording reasonable breathing space.

The underrated Birdflesh bring the noise, hooky riffs and requisite viciousness, with their deceptively versatile, genre-mashing grind boasting the instrumental chops, amped energy, and varied vocal and musical weapons to grab the throat and tickle the funny bone, once again succeeding in their mission to entertain and violently slay in equal measure. For Birdflesh fans and grind enthusiasts with a taste for gore, black humor, bands like Blood Duster, Ghoul and Macabre, along with a penchant for riffs, riffs and more goddamn riffs, Sickness in the North hits the gooey sweet spot.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Everlasting Spew Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide:
April 21st, 2023

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