Here at AMG, despite being metalheads and craving the extremest of the extreme and longing for the shock factor, at heart we’re still a puritanical bunch of wussies. Case in point, when faced with a band that chooses a name that’s unconventional to the point of being offensive, the band gets branded with a big scarlet letter, Twitter feeds blow up, public shunning takes place and no review is forthcoming. Well you know what? That spurs me on and the more I read about Ass to Mouth, the more it drove me to hunt down these human centipedes of Polish death grind and spin Degenerate, a release that could very easily be mistaken for a Tom Six and Clive Barker body horror collaboration. It’s not pretty, but sure as shit you’re not going to forget these degenerate.
The first thing you need to keep in mind when you hit play on Degenerate is that Ass to Mouth have a sense of humour. “44&41” begins with an Mortician styled conversation between what could easily be the ghosts of Bonnie and Clyde in the dark and dusty recesses of their local blind pig or speakeasy. Don’t be fooled though, the bourbon soaked setting is short lived. Before you know it you’re hit with a shit-show; guitars and drums are go go go and Kuba and Jarek provide just about every kind of contortion they can wring from their vocal chords. Think pig squeals, grunts, snorts, growls and all the goodies Parricide would offer. The band transitions with razor-sharp precision into “Under the Razor’s Edge,” “Sentenced to Grind” and “We Are the Pigs, all full-on grinding death assaults that have a continuity connecting the micro tracks.
“One Shot Too Far” is a short, blunt shift in direction. It badly wants to be a rock song, but Ass to Mouth don’t let it get away from them and soon it’s writhing on the floor squealing like a stuck pig. “Drunk & Stoned” and “Alcowhore” slow the pace and intensity for mere moments, one kicking off a waltzing distorted sound bite and other features the return of Bonnie and Clyde for a continuation of “44&41.” Apart from the sound bite oddities, the swinging guitar work and pounding drumline around the midsection of the track makes “Drunk & Stoned” an infectiously memorable landmark. Hot on the chugging heels of “Mama, I’m Not Coming Home,” Ass to Mouth‘s recurring character Mr. Pig makes his triumphant return. “Here Comes Mr. Pig” is a bassy, sludgy track that gallops along with all the weird frenzy of a pig throwing a temper tantrum – I’ve grown rather attached to Mr. Pig since the early days of Kiss Ass and “No More Mr. Nice Pig,” “Mr. Pigs Birthday Party” and of course “Thriumphal March of Mr. Pig.” At 20 tracks and 30 minutes, other standout moments include “Idiot’s Crusade” and “You Have 0 Friends,” with “Idiot’s Crusade” standing out not only as the the longest track on the album, but showcasing jarring Impetigo styled news clips and aberrations of grinding, uncomfortable proportions.
Degenerate doesn’t quite reach the massive brutality of genre veterans like Napalm Death and Mortician, but for the fun ride it is, Degenerate ended up being one of my favorite releases this year, getting a whole lot of repeat play. After two full-lengths, and the addition of Kuba on vocals, Ass to Mouth hit the sweet spot, finally developing the sound of a great, up-and-coming grind outfit. Hang your heads in shame if you missed one of the best grind releases of the year!
Tracks to check: “Drunk & Stoned,” “Here Comes Mr. Pig,” “Idiot’s Crusade” and “The Good, The Bad & The Dead”