After an extremely impressive demo, the Seattle grinding supergroup go Super Saiyan on all who dare oppose them.
From its very inception, grindcore has, when done properly, stood on the throats of all other extreme music subgenres as the heaviest and most brutal form of artistic expression. Its birth in the industrial heartland of England from groups like NAPALM DEATH, CARCASS and SORE THROAT alongside their American brethren in REPULSION and TERRORIZER signaled the ultimate melting pot of hardcore punk, death metal and thrash. The genre has evolved to include bands that have incorporated noise, prog and sludge to create a genre that is equal parts fluid yet also rigid in its adherence to traditional forms. So why the little history lesson? Because in order to understand the present, oftentimes the past is the best guidepost. In the case of the debut record by Washington based grind outfit CAUSTIC WOUND entitled Death Posture, the understanding of the past isn’t merely to pay lip service, it's crucial to understanding the record in its heavy-handed approach to modern grindcore. What the quintet are able to accomplish on this record is nothing short of punishing, allowing you to see that this type of grindcore isn’t content with forward thinking concepts but with bringing a steel fisted approach akin to the old masters to the 21st century knuckle draggers.
CAUSTIC WOUND comprises a wealth of insane talent from the Pacific Northwest's extreme metal underground. A full third of the band comes courtesy of death doom titans MORTIFERUM with guitarists Max Bowman and Chase Slaker along with bassist Tony Wolfe rounding things out. Vocals come from the always versatile Clyle Lindstrom, guitarist for FETID and CEREBRAL ROT and the band’s blasting drums are brought to the world through MAGRUDERGRUND's Casey Moore. The band initially caught the attention of many with their 2018 eight track demo entitled Grinding Terror, which was released in March of that year by the Headsplit Records label. True devotees of the schools of Symphonies of Sickness, Horrified, World Downfall and Scum knew from just the small sampling offered up, this quintet could light the fire in grind’s anti-authoritarian hall like PIG DESTROYER did so many years before. Personally, I feel that Grinding Terror is one of the most intense yet simultaneously fun grindcore releases in some time. The combination of wrecking ball riffs, bulldozer bass and jackhammer drumming all with Lindstrom adding his bellowing roar is a sonic journey back to when Lee Dorrian and Mick Harris made NAPALM DEATH a formidable force in the UK’s burgeoning grind scene. It may seem to some that this is just me simply brown nosing because of how much I loved the records put out by the band member’s other projects from last year but I can assure you, CAUSTIC WOUND are only linked in band bloodlines only. This is a wholly different monster compared to MORTIFERUM, CEREBRAL ROT and FETID. While those groups find solace in their brand of heavy through grime and slime covered riffing akin to Swamp Thing, CAUSTIC WOUND is the musical equivalent to the T-1000: cold, mechanized, brutal, unwavering and most importantly purely terror inducing.
As the opening noise wall of the title track begins, it’s time to don those helmets because your head won’t stop banging for the next twenty-five to thirty minutes. With a malicious dive bomb, Lindstrom lets out a pained and horrific howl that signals that the end is nigh. The cohesive riff package that follows is nothing short of obliterating with Wolfe and Moore keeping the rhythm section tight as Lindstrom gurgles like Barney Greenway if he was possessed. Following bruisers Cemetery Planet and Visions of Torture feature some of the record’s tightest grindcore essentials with crusty leads and a nasty solo to finish the former. The latter begins with meat hook basslines before an echoed ugh really gets the inner mosh pit turning. Fifty seconds in and the horror is unleashed. At points this, along with a few other moments throughout Death Posture, one can feel the insane grinding attack of early BOLT THROWER circa In Battle There Is No Law on full display.
Black Bag Asphyxiation and Terror Bomber work as the next round of upper cutting knockout tracks that show the NAPALM DEATH influence in the way the guitars have a very DISCHARGE meets SLAYER feel while remaining fresh enough to not appear derivative. Terror Bomber dares to get a bit doomy in it’s blinding seventy seconds before exiting stage left, right and everywhere like a grenade.
Now this will seem graphic but if acts of terrorism had an anthem, I’m pretty sure that anthem would be Blast Casualty. Beginning with a nasty and raspy screech from Lindstrom, the track descends into soloing madness with a very bouncy REPULSION like energy with moments of blackened fury to cut the tension. Divebombing is prevalent throughout the record’s runtime but one of the best displays of that is on this track’s closing seconds. Ritual Trappings, in all brutal honesty, sounds like a song that could have easily snuck itself somewhere onto the track listing of the monumental Prowler in the Yard (2001). It has that voyeuristic grossness that PIG DESTROYER are known for with a punkier edge that lends itself to become an atom bomb of a track.
Single Uranium Decay is without a doubt another barn burning rager with an energy that can’t be matched. Cabal has a feeling that its definition suggests: a secret political group or faction. This track feels like you’ve stumbled into some secret government meeting you weren’t supposed to see, you’ve been got and now you must blast your way out Jason Bourne style. Also, as its name suggests, Acid Attack feels like after you’ve seemingly escaped the government cronies, they catch you in a room and dump nuclear acid that corrodes your skin to soup and bones to sludge. It’s gruesome alright, but what did you expect? This is grindcore, not dream pop.
Death Posture’s final four tracks really feel like you’re in a life sized version of Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots with Invisible Cell and Guillotine leading the charge. The former begins with some mid paced riffing before once again exploding into the stratosphere. The latter track, which was re-recorded from the band’s demo, remains as hefty as it’s 2018 counterpart with a CARCASS level of claustrophobia that demands your attention. Moore’s performance shines through on the entire record but it’s here that his drumming can be compared to the godly Ken Owen. Lindstrom is also able to switch back and forth acting as both Bill Steer and Jeff Walker with his unreal vocal display. The MORTIFERUM dudes are also no slouches either as Bowman and Slaker divebomb us all into the abyss multiple times while allowing Tony Wolfe, who’s bass performance was a defining trait of the MORTIFERUM debut, to shine and bring that Scott Carlson/Shane Embury ham fisted bass attack.
Automatous Weapons System and Cataclysmic Gigaton act as the final nails in the world’s coffin. With COVID-19 raging, most people are in sheer terror of what is in store. While yes we should take precautions, I’m pretty sure these final two grinding blasts could eliminate that virus on sight. They’re Godzilla sized riff monstrosities that wreak havoc on all who dare oppose with divebombs, blast beasts, bass gristle and gurgled vocals galore. It’s a magnificent end to a damn near perfect grind record.
Any criticism I can levy is brief and may be a stumbling block to some depending on how you like your grind. The production is not the most polished thing on the planet, but sometimes that’s how the grind aesthetic stays true in a way. You’ve got to give your albums a small amount of grist with the rest of the steak. But with that laid to rest, one must recognize what is fully on display here, a pure sonic attack of the highest and most wretched form possible.
On Death Posture, CAUSTIC WOUND have created one of the best grind records in recent memory. Of course, that’s understandably high praise but when it all boils down to it, grind has been in a weird place. You have bands that want to stay a strict course and only take the traditionalist route while others wish to expand the genre’s horizons even further. What CAUSTIC WOUND have done is straddle both worlds to combine the noisy cacophony of FULL OF HELL and INSECT WARFARE with the traditionalist brilliance of CARCASS and REPULSION. While Death Posture certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it sure as hell gets it wind milling like crazy when those grinding blasts return once more to cave your skull in. So for those out of the loop, it is time to rise and grind with the new world downfall.
Death Posture arrives on April 10th via Profound Lore Records. Get your copy HERE.