It’s 2018 AD and it seems we’ve entered the era of “post-thrash.” This record was labelled as such on our Upcoming Crap to Review sheet which is now sadly defunct, having been usurped by an appallingly efficient workflow management system which was painstakingly introduced and optimized by the ever-reliable Madam X. Such is the corporate behemoth that we have become and long gone are the days of AMG arbitrarily foisting metalcore on Steel Druhm. But on to the subject of today’s article, which goes by the ridiculous Murkin Hella Fools (MHF) by an Oakland troupe called Survival. What is “post-thrash?” Does it bite? Can it be good?
MFH is their fifth full-length. This is surprising as I have never encountered them and their social media presence is negligible. Furthermore, it is incredibly lo-fi, bordering on crude; it doesn’t sound like a record released by a band that honed their sound and improved their production values. To call it a full-length seems disingenuous too as it’s only 20 minutes, which is shorter than many EPs these days. Sophistication is not a word in these guys’ dictionary.
Supporting this point, the production is spotty at best; bad at worst. My issue is not with the dynamic range but the mix. The drums are dominant, to the point of obnoxiousness. The crisp hi-hat is much too loud, drowning out the riffs and vocals with a sharpness which fairly rapidly becomes piercing. This is also true of the kick drum which thumps to an unrealistic extent given its prominence. The homebrew aesthetic has its charms but when the production hinders the music there’s a problem.
Transitioning to the music, there are two core styles dictating the Survival sound. One is groovy thrash metal with a strong melodic sensibility. The other is electronic, utilizing synths and nu metal-style embellishments. And you know what else is surprising? That MHF is not absolute shite. It features groovy riffs, urgent, sneered vocals and diverse electronic elements. These include hip-hop beats, striking piano parts, and atmospheric synths. There is an earnestness here which transcends the two styles and leaves me with a curious satisfaction. It is, essentially, a decent album. However, these influences are somewhat unceremoniously married. They aren’t at counter-points but also aren’t very complimentary. Transitions are jarring and when the metal and electronic parts are used together, don’t sound entirely inter-woven. Part of this dissonance probably falls on the production and its odd emphasis on instruments which aren’t the guitars or vocals.
The “post-thrash” tag can here be expanded to mean thrash-lite with electronic eccentricities and a vague affinity with nu metal. While I acknowledge that this sounds dire on paper, the result is charming in a puerile sort of way, even if the production hampers affairs. I can’t award an unreserved recommendation but I can ask you to maintain a sufficiently open mind to not dismiss Survival out of hand.