Houkago Grind Time – Houkago Grind Time 2: The Second Raid Review

Metal head = nerd. Many of you know this. Some of you may bristle at the designation. Tough titties. Nerds are people who obsess over niche interests to the point of becoming insufferable pedants, and your very presence here, reading extreme metal reviews in this dark corner of the internet, means you’re obsessing over a niche interest. So that’s settled. Weeb = nerd. All of you know this. If you don’t, it’s only because you don’t know what the word “weeb” means. So if metal head = nerd, and weeb = nerd, then metal head = weeb. If that raises your hackles, check the math yourself.1 Metal heads like to act too cool for school, but the last thing we should ever do is judge another group for their weird interest in genre specific media. Such kindred spirits should be celebrated. Welcomed, even. Houkago Grind Time certainly think so, sitting as they do in the shady area of the Venn Diagram between metal heads and weebs. For the uninitiated, Houkago Grind Time is the anime-themed grindcore project of death metal savant Andrew Lee, perhaps best known for Ripped to Shreds. Houkago Grind Time 2: The Second Raid is, as should be obvious, the band’s second full-length, or what passes in grind for a full-length at 19 minutes. It should get your head nodding, but will it make you want to pay for a Crunchyroll subscription?

On the grind spectrum of death metal to hardcore, Houkago Grind Time skews heavily toward the former, with knuckle-dragging riffs and pounding drum fills played at double speed. Lee’s vocals are so deep and guttural that even with the lyrics generously provided on Bandcamp, it’s impossible to match sound to syllable. Rest assured, it’s all anime or surrounding culture specific, and it’s all presented with tongue planted firmly in cheek. There are references to popular series like Attack on Titan (“Isayama Is a Fascist Pig”) and Fate/Apocrypha (“Hey Astolfo (‘Trap’ Is a Slur)”) as well as ruminations on weeb behavior (“Glomping Is Violence (Clean the Cons)”). As one might expect, there are samples lifted from shows peppered throughout the record, as well as a few meme-y soundbites, like the deranged pre-teen yelling “Don’t fuck with me! I’ve got the power of goddamn anime on my side!” to kick off “Power of Anime.”

If you’re familiar with the cluttered Bandcamp landscape of grind and slam bands with ridiculous schticks, you’d be forgiven for expecting low-effort distorted chugs and programmed drum blasts on the musical front. Thankfully, Houkago Grind Time balance the goofy fun of their themes with riffs as serious as Shinji Ikari’s daddy issues. It’s hard to pick standouts because every track packs in brutal riffs like early season shounen episodes pack in training montages. Lee finds a particularly winning formula when he cuts loose for some high register guitar shredding, as he does on tracks like opener “It’s Time to M-M-M-Mince,”2 “Pathetic?”3 and “Mincing Cabbages.” This being grind, it’s all very fast and very dense, but even at its most frenetic, Houkago Grind Time 2: The Second Raid always delivers riffs, grooves or solos of crystalline clarity to latch on to.

This is one tightly wound ball of goofy fun and brutal death grind, so what’s not to like? The nagging issue I’ve had with Houkago Grind Time 2: The Second Raid, which grew with every spin, is one of uniformity. With the exception of a couple tracks that lean more into the hardcore side of grind, “Moe: Again?” for instance, each song largely follows the same formula. By the time I’m two-thirds of the way through the record, everything blurs together. The guitar shredding bits are never as long as I’d like them to be, and there is no shortage of riffs that basically go DUN da dun dun DUN da SQUEEwee. Take any three songs in succession and this sounds like a world beater, but 16 distinct tracks is way too many without more variation.

Houkago Grind Time 2: The Second Raid is an album that delivers fist-pumping moments, but also feels longer than its scant 19-minute run time thanks to a repetition of ideas. That makes it a lot like every fight in the Dragon Ball franchise, but hey, that’s one of the most popular animes ever, so I’m sure plenty of people won’t mind.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Outrageous Weeb Power Productions
Websites: houkagogrindtime2.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/houkagogrindtime
Releases Worldwide: November 4th, 2022

Show 3 footnotes
  1. This is called the ‘transitive property of equality.’ Many of our US readers won’t know this because the words ‘transitive’ and ‘equality’ are banned in some school districts. – Holdeneye
  2. Which actually features serious lyrics about the animation industry exploiting artistic labor.
  3. With chef’s kiss lyrics “Jerking it to hentai every night, Terabytes of gross shit ain’t right, It’s impossible to meet a 3D person, Trying just makes the anxiety worsen, Time to make an effort and change your laifu, It’s pathetic to make a pillow your waifu, But at least 2D will never betray you.”
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