Grindcore is a genre best-suited to the EP. The intense aggression and abrasive style can very rarely be sustained for a full length of 40-50 minutes, after which most would rip off their weary ears and embark on a quest of homicidal desecration – but as a tasty morsel it can be a powerful tool. I was therefore only too happy to sample Occult 45‘s new EP, Human Abhorrence, off the back of a couple of other EPs and a split with Drones For Queens. Just as with their wider discography, these Pennsylvanian dudes have released an incredibly concise and blunt burst of skull-smashing music, only 12 minutes in length. It’s about as subtle as a Colt 45 at a pacifism convention, and twice as brutal, but is counter-intuitively limited by its resolute brevity.
There are pleasing moments here, and a surprisingly fun spirit permeates the EP (perhaps it’s not surprising since they identify as ‘Party Grind’). The immediate battery of opener “Plaster Saint” is clearly written with mindless moshing in mind, and most other tracks push their fastest material to the front, before breaking down and adding variety secondarily. Even on the slower “Chainsaw Vigilante” the opening noise and feedback contributes to the mentality. The easy highlight is “PPFO,” with stupidly catchy lyrics and a groovy riff.
However, herein lies my criticism of Human Abhorrence. “PPFO” clocks in at a meager 51 seconds, with the humorously shoutable vocals over before they’ve really begun. This issue suffuses the entire EP, where flashes of greatness, or at least amusement, are cut short before they can develop into anything more than a moment. The riff at 0:54 of “Chainsaw Vigilante,” the groovy fill at 0:44 of “Wizard of Gore,” the finger-ripping shred at 1:54 of “Death With Dignity”… All show potential but are cut short before they can truly impress. More time could have been spent developing the stronger riffs and solos into proper set-pieces.
Ultimately it seems Occult 45 don’t know their own strengths. Human Abhorrence isn’t too short, but the positives should have been expanded over the filler material. While no tracks are absolute throwaways, there are also no real stand-outs given the evanescent strengths. The absence of the bad does not necessarily facilitate the good. A shame.