It was to be the heist of the century, my crowning achievement: sneaking a suspiciously un-hyped release by original grinders Repulsion out from under everyone else’s grubby eyes and watchful mitts. And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for that pesky e. What a difference a letter makes. Enter Italian vets Repulsione. All the grind you wanted, now with twice the bass. The Bolognans (Bolognies?) are not the first outfit to dump their guitars for a second bass, but Desecrating explores a dynamic that dreams of making your average bruising sound like music for tiny yapping dogs. Will Repulsione’s full-bodied take on a pint-sized genre help their sophomore outing resuscitate my dashed hopes and shattered dreams?
While a bass tandem is an unorthodox choice for a grindcore band, Repulsione still cut riffs both grimy and heavy. Opener “The Eternal Darkness of an Usefull Skull” [sic], with its miniature expulsions of pulsing vitriol and piercing snare patterns, presses in upon you even more than your average grind affair. It eschews the classic meanness, the throwback twelve seconds of “fuck you” that grindcore is known for, and lets the bass fuzz do the heavy lifting instead. It envelops the mix in a vague fury that makes the music immediate, dirty, and somewhat difficult to parse. “Junkyard Dog” needs only two minutes to bend your fingernails off, but longer fare – that’s right, longer fare – provide a platform for the sound to develop in unexpected ways. The near-8 minutes of “An Infamous Beast” and “Last Man Standing” embrace the suffocating atmosphere with methodical infusions of doom, death, and sludge. Though they feel twice as long as than they need to be, they at least attempt to subvert your expectations of the genre. When those moments do come together, like on the title track, they are a boon for the record.
The fuzz aspects fare a damn sight better than I first expected, but Repulsione‘s riffs are often middling. The haplessly spelling of “Usefull Skull” winds up being more interesting than the song itself, a precursor to areas where the record flattens out and slips out of mind as soon as it slips out of ear. Part of this stems from the bass leads. The riffs can be harder to track than lo-fi black, and with the faint, indiscriminate gurgle-roars and bonk-bonk-bonkeroos of the snare, songs like “Emptiness” congeal into a puddle of noise. Desecrating‘s winners transcend this by either differentiating the quality of its noise, like the shifting pitches and tempoes of “Vomero,” knowing when to cut it short (“Selfish (Comrades)”), or carving out niches of groove that spin the whole mess into one pulsing pile of limbs, spit, and broken drum sticks. “Resistance” and “Union” stick out of the playlist for exactly that last reason, with mosh-worthy vibes and pint-sized doses of punk and crust.
The production leads Desecrating‘s decision-making, pushing the music in directions that suit it, rather than the other way around. As I mentioned earlier, Repulsione deserve credit for molding their sound into the double bass set-up and not mindlessly pigeon-holing themselves into a rote seat-of-your-ass 22 songs in 18 minutes. The band treats grindcore as something to be explored, but isn’t above the occasional 40-second jaunt. I don’t exactly love the sound bite interludes or a few of the transitions, but they add another layer of development that grind would normally never spend the time on. I suppose that says more about the genre than about the band itself, but relative dick-measuring in musical dissection is as natural as relative dick-measuring in every other aspect of life.
Repulsione don’t break any beats per minute records or set grind snobs’ loins ablaze with a cutting re-imagining of a classic. More importantly, they won’t chuck in out-of-nowhere influences or peddle absurd fairytale genre tags like “fuzzgrind” or “grinding punkcore” just to make a splash. Their take on any genre, as exploratory (or not) as it may be, is thoughtful and deliberate. It’s also a welcome one, especially when you can listen to Napalm Death or Wormrot or Nasum whenever you want. Props to Repulsione for putting some life into their grindcore. The execution of Desecrating leaves something to be desired, but I admire the effort, regardless of the result.
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: WOOAAARGH | wooaaargh.bandcamp.com
Websites: repulsione.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/repulsione.grindcore
Releases Worldwide: March 9th, 2018