I’m sure you’re wondering, dear reader, what happened to my face, hair, and clothes. No? Thank the technology of writing that you have been saved from witnessing the apotheosis of dishevelment which clacks away at this keyboard. But now, thanks again to the technology of writing, you are wondering just that. Funny how that works, isn’t it? Well, the story is not a long one: eighteen minutes and forty-three-point-three seconds long by my count. I dare say you’ll find it quite entertaining.
But first, a prologue. Four years ago when I was but a powerless underling at this publication, I had the luck of reviewing an album called Stillborn Nation. It was a good grind record, with plenty of charm, but the band that made it seemed destined for better things. For one, the name Human Cull was – and still is – one of the best band names in history. The band fucking knew it, too, and played grind like it was their destiny to own the genre. Even if the material was at times lacking, they delivered it so well that I come back to that record for a grind fix to this day. Well, not literally this day.
That’s because eighteen minutes ago I hit play once again on Human Cull‘s new record, Revenant, which puts their previous work — and indeed the vast majority of grindcore — to shame. From the insane scream that opens “Harnessing Atrocity” to the slow-burn groove of “Endless Purgatory,” Revenant exacted on me the sort of abuse that you usually have to pay extra and sign waivers for. I was pummeled, slashed, thrown around, screamed at like a snake in bed with your spouse, and consummately destroyed in a rather enjoyable manner.
“An Offering to the Machine” held me forward as such and cast me in to feed the gears. Rapacious, “The Worms of God” gnawed at me with scathing tongues, scraping and seething. Not much later I found myself dashed across the fine grooves of “Prying Eyes,” a track which sears like a bloody cut of Wormrot. It brought me back to the syncopated snap of “Harnessing Atrocity” that I’d heard just moments earlier. The sheer variety of ways Revenant slapped me around sent my head spinning.
Given a moment of peace – which Revenant emphatically does not provide – I can piece together what happened. Human Cull brought the adventurous composition of Discordance Axis into the realm of metallic intensity inhabited by Wormrot and executed it with a crisp, full-sounding production. Revenant chafes against deathgrind territory at times; pinch harmonics throw themselves into a rolling mid-tempo hardcore riff in “Flesh” while “Baleful Foundation” breaks down into a morose doom riff thirty seconds in and the guitar even doubles up for a brief tapped lead. Guitarist Edd Robinson and drummer Sam Trenchard trade-off guttural death growls and throat-shredding screams (such as the one that provides the best opening to ever grace a grindcore album). Luke Archer’s bass plays a pivotal role here, and if you love your grind metallic but feel like Wormrot lacks low-end, his bouncy and distorted tone will split your face ear to ear. In contrast with Stillborn Nation‘s idiosyncratic tones, Revenant‘s production won’t take any getting used to.
Of course, this wouldn’t be AngryMetalGuy.com if I didn’t air any grievances, and with any grind LP, it’s easy to identify one or two songs that could have been dropped since there are so many of them. “The Death that Isn’t Death” saps a bit of energy before the album closes, and if pressed I’d say the first three songs aren’t quite up to par with the material on the rest of the album. But as far as I’m concerned, Revenant is right up there with Voices as one of the best grind records out there. Bigger grind fans than I are likely to enjoy it even more and emerge from the eighteen songs even bloodier and more dazed than I currently am.