“Grind n’ roll” sounds less like a genre and more like something you’d do to your weed before you smoke it, but nonetheless that’s the style Unborn Generation claim to play. Formed in 2002, this Finnish trio have actually released a shocking five prior full-lengths, though none seem to have generated much buzz outside their home country. Likewise the hallowed Angry Metal Spreadsheet Ov Promos was also the first time I’d heard of Unborn, and thus I decided to leave my reservations at the door, enter the Vøid, and find out just what these Finns were all about. Does this sixth full-length grind n’ roll, bump n’ grind, or just stand around looking ominous in a hooded sweatshirt? It’s the Unborn Generation, they’re cvlt and they don’t even know it yet!
As it turns out, “grind n’ roll” actually sounds an awful lot like crust punk. Opener “Shadow” shows this from the start, charging forward on bashed guitars and hammering D-beats pulled straight from the Wolfbrigade arsenal. It’s a dynamic and energetic track, but things get even better once the band throw in some snappy chugs and a surprisingly cinematic conclusion. The skilled songwriting continues with “Ritual,” which keeps the party going with a thumping buildup and rapid gallop that should work nicely as aural Viagra for your inner Disfear fan. Through it all frontman Herkko Huttunen belts out a suitably croaky rasp, while his riffs roar with just a hint of Swedeath buzz.
As Vøid continues, it’s clear variety is Unborn’s strong suit. Unlike its predecessors, third track “Preacher” is straight grindcore, plowing through its 61-second runtime on a bulldozer of blastbeats, gargled roars, and devastating groove. “King” sticks closer to the crust formula but mixes it up with verses that leave out the guitars entirely, before finishing with a big Homewrecker-style metallic hardcore breakdown. Later, closer “Void” drops a dump truck full of sludge on the proceedings, crawling along like one of Converge’s longer tracks before hitting with a conclusion that feels like getting a septum piercing from a pile driver.
Battering through 13 tracks in 33 minutes, Unborn seem to know the importance of keeping things tight and engaging. Sadly, not everything works. “Trickster” evokes KEN Mode’s noisy sludge rock with its loping pace, but despite standing out for its slow tempo, it lacks a notable climax. Likewise Vøid‘s second half is more of a blur than the first, and while no tracks here are bad, the riffing does start to feel redundant by the time songs like “Wrath” roll around. Part of it may also be the production. Though the loud and slightly raw sound fits the style, things also feel blunt and somewhat muffled, making Vøid easier to tune out than it should. As a final quibble – and this may just be the mindless hardcore kid in me coming out – I do wish the vocals were more aggressive, as that would really have added some extra teeth to moments like the aforementioned “King” breakdown.
That aside, Huttunen’s performance is impressive. Whether soaring through the dramatic chords of “Harbinger” or belting out the shoutalong chorus of album standout “Diehard,” it’s clear the man is passionate and knows how to keep things entertaining, not to mention having an assortment of lively crust riffs in his back pocket. Drummer Eetu Huttunen also deserves praise, supporting his brother’s guitars with an aggressive blend of blasts, chugs, D-beats, and even some tumbling buildups.
In all, UG may be far from the OGs of this sound, but it’s hard to hold that against them when the results are this exciting. The diverse tempos and styles help set the band apart from their contemporaries, as does the dark and foreboding aura that permeates Vøid like the stench of an unwashed gutter punk. Sure, not all of us want to eat out of a dumpster, shit in a paper bag, and wear pants held together by Discharge patches, but those looking to experience a nasty half-hour of this genre-mashing could do far worse. Is it crust? Is it grind? Who cares, just roll with it.
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Inverse Records
Websites: unborngeneration.bandcamp.com | unborngeneration.com | facebook.com/unborngeneration
Releases Worldwide: June 15th, 2018