Narakah – Blast Haven Review

It’s been a hot minute since I got my hands on some good grindcore, what with all the doom, gloom, and… phallus-eyed pig goodness that 2020 handed me. My deal is that, unless it hooks, grooves, and absolutely obliterates with both heft and speed, it’s not gonna do a damn thing for me. Maybe it’s because I was spoiled at a relatively young age by the likes of Napalm DeathNasumBrutal Truth, and the like, but it’s not often that I’m floored by grind these days. But a change of pace can do wonders, and it just so happens that Pittsburgh’s Narakah dropped their second EP, Blast Haven, on us. Nine songs at twelve minutes. Sure, it’s cheating to grab an EP when it’s not EP Season, but if it’s good enough, I can shine some light on it.

And man, does this thing not waste much time in laying waste. After an ominous noise intro that reminds me a bit of the 80’s version of Flash Gordon, “Látom” wipes the floor with you between barked and shrill vocals, burly hardcore riffs and bass lines, and even a bit of slam with the tell-tale “TING!” about halfway through. Sure, it casts an eye towards the likes of Napalm Death, but they keep their feet firmly in today’s heavy, slammy atmosphere.

But the main influence Blast Haven seems to be pulling from is none other than Discordance Axis‘ unfuckwithable The Inalienable Dreamless, and Narakah‘s handling of the source material is not only respectable but warped enough with their dalliances with noise to make it stand apart as its own beast. “Samurai Dreams” and the title track twist and morph their oratorios (in grey) into visceral, unflinching visions of their own design. Closer “Dakimakura,” with its robotic, ominous opening, crushes with some of the EP’s meanest hooks and riffs that you feel drained, wiped, and maybe even a little bit sad when you hear it close out with “See you in Pittsburgh” amidst some clapping and chatter.

From a production standpoint, Blast Haven also impresses with thick, meaty guitars, a punchy-as-fuck bass, and bass drums that pummel relentlessly. However, and I know this is how modern slam snares sound, that snare sound is distracting. While not the worst snare I’ve ever heard, it’s still off-putting. Also, while sole instrumental “Cynocephalus (Destro’s End)” makes for a good palette-cleanser, it still goes on for a bit too long at almost three minutes, and when it’s just noise, those three minutes can drag. If your EP is just a hair over twelve minutes, you want every second to count.

Thankfully, Narakah mostly does that, and with great results. Grind isn’t normally my go-to for musical release, but nothing can beat it in terms of sheer aggression and the addictive qualities of its hooks. That’s a skill Narakah are incredibly close to mastering, and with Blast Haven, they’ve made one hell of an impact in a short amount of time. This isn’t a case of a band whose future looks bright. Rather, Narakah‘s looks downright frightening, and this makes a great case as to why.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 12th, 2021

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