Here’s something slightly different for us here at Angry Metal Guy Worldwide Industries. Vise Massacre is a Brooklyn-based hardcore/punk-thrash power trio and Expendable Humans is their debut full-length (a very short one at thirty-one minutes). Although it’s fairly thrashy and abrasive, there’s no mistaking that this is pure hardcore with similarities to vets of the past like Cryptic Slaughter, Cro-Mags and Sick of It All. It’s all short bursts of fast, chunky punk rage, with most songs (fourteen of em) clocking in at, or under, two minutes. There are some decent riffs scattered about and some really aggressive, herky-jerky, pissed-off material, but sadly, not much here really interests or grabs me in the slightest. Now, let’s be clear. I’m not anti-hardcore at all. In fact, I really like the bands mentioned above. This just feels entirely generic and flat to me, almost like paint-by-numbers angry punk. This somewhat surprised me, since these guys have a fair amount of underground buzz swirling around them.
As Expendable Humans streamrolls along, you get song after song like opener “Paralyzer,” with a big, low-end rumble, chugging, thick riffs and the heartily irate bellows of Rich Von Muller. It even has some vaguely blackened trem-riffing. “Bloodsucker” features some interesting, almost Voivoid-like stutter-step riffing and “Hail to the Wicked” grinds along nastily like a tank. The best moments IMHO come during “Bloodsucker” and “Kill to Survive” (which has a vibe not unlike long forgotten thrashers At War). The big problem for me is so many of the songs are faceless and indistinguishable from each other. They rage noisily for two minutes and die, leaving absolutely nothing stuck in the musical memory banks. Of the lot, only about five tunes contain moments that peaked my interest and those did so only in the most modest ways.
A lot of my disconnect is attributable to the base style Vise Massacre employs, i.e. overly simplistic riffing and samey riff patterns. After a few songs, it starts to feel tedious and recycled. I can’t however, fault the vocals of Mr. Muller at all. He has the classic hardcore shout/roar down pat and spends most of the time sounding like he’s passing a large, sandpaper-coated marble through his urethra. Sometimes he reminds me of Gary Meskil (Pro-Pain) and even veers close to Tom Angelripper (Sodom) at times. He’s the bright spot to this hardcore onslaught and provides a lot of the charm the music itself often lacks. The mix is about what you’d expect from a New York hardcore album, bassy, heavy and thick. It sounds like a Big Apple street brawl without the taxi horns blaring in the background (though that would be pretty damn cool).
If you worship loud, angry, heavy hardcore, add a point or so. However, Steel Druhm just couldn’t get this thing to sink into his steely consciousness, despite numerous spins. In fact, this left such a light impression, it was a real challenge to adequately explain what I’d heard. It pains me to say it, but so far, 2012 isn’t tickling my metal bone (under my collarbone) as much as I expected. It’s still early though and Steel Druhm is ever the patient, optimistic metal miser. Now, get me some good promos before I fucking lose it!