King Parrot make grindcore great again. At least that’s what I thought after first hearing the Australian quintet’s 2012 debut Bite Your Head Off, which bucked genre norms by fusing groovy aggression with honest-to-God vocal hooks and a “hip slumdog” attitude. In my review of 2015 follow-up Dead Set I referred to the band as the “Die Antwoord of grindcore,” and that remains one of my favorite analogies I’ve made at AMG to this day. Sadly even Phil Anselmo’s oversight under his Housecore Records label couldn’t make that record a total win, and despite the fact I still enjoy Set two years later, the truth remains that for all their raucous energy Parrot simply don’t write very interesting riffs. Does third full-length Ugly Produce finally manage to mix the group’s rotten aesthetic with some truly fresh compositions?
Things certainly start promising enough. Opener “Entrapment” bursts right in with the group’s trademark “burn the house down” vivacity, bristling with guitars that alternately charge and slam forward with rhythmic bluntness. Topped off with an explosive chorus that contains some surprisingly dramatic chords, the end result is a track that more than delivers on Produce’s “fruit meets Hills Have Eyes” artwork. And the extremity doesn’t end here. The remainder of Produce’s 27 minutes fly by in a blurry stampede of face-smacking riffs and battering drums, with highlights like “Disgrace Yourself” and “Die Before You Die” barreling forward on surprisingly melodic licks that recall a heavier and grimier Warbringer. Likewise “Numb Skull” follows its burning grindy blasting with a breakdown stomp that ends the track in fine form.
As always, the true highlight of Parrot is vocalist Matthew Young. Even with over 3000 artists listened to according to last.fm, I’ve never heard anyone quite like Mr Young. Rather than a scream or growl, the dude belches out a high-pitched squawk that recalls a cross between a demented muppet and Iron Reagan’s Tony Foresta.1 Young’s voice is both manic and snotty, adding a wild punky edge to the proceedings that I’m sure makes the group a blast to see live. He also continues to deliver on Parrot’s characteristic repeated vocal motifs, with tracks like “All Hail the Grub” featuring an almost melodic scream-shout in its refrain and nearly every other song featuring a prominent shout of the track title.
Unfortunately Set’s biggest pitfall remains: these riffs are basic. If these riffs were a person, they would be an early-twenties female who lives off Instragram and pumpkin spice lattes. Others that aren’t generic are outright stale. Aforementioned “Grub” leans hard on Parrot’s trick of repeating a note or chord in sequence and expecting it to please, while closer “Spookin’ the Animals” features an awkward half-time progression that’s only barely redeemed by some satisfying chugs. Many of the choruses also feel far too repetitive for songs that average only two-and-a-half minutes, and several miss the mark entirely. See the attempted anthemic refrain of “Piss Wreck,” whose chant of “Piss wreck is here!” inspires less raised fists and more limp dicks. The mix is also boomy and brickwalled, with a sound that blurs everything together like a drunk hobo rubbing shit on your windshield.
Nevertheless Produce is a record that’s hard to hate. As before, Parrot maintain a unique aesthetic that’s rowdy, fun, and motherfucking dirty, leading them to stand out amidst a sea of modern grindcore bands who sound like they were made from a Napalm Death cookie cutter. It doesn’t hurt that the group keep things brief at ten tracks, or that cuts like “Ten Pounds of Shit in a Five Pound Bag” become deceptively catchy with multiple listens. The band clearly have a ways to go before they’re the next Pig Destroyer, but I’ll happily follow along in the meantime (and those bizarre music videos don’t hurt either). At the end of the day King Parrot might not make grindcore great again, but they sure do know how to make it entertaining.
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Labels: Agonia Records | Housecore Records | EVP Recordings
Websites: kingparrot.net | facebook.com/kingparrotband
Releases Worldwide: September 22nd, 2017