'Concrete' - Whourkr (5/10)
Whourkr's first album 'Naat' was something of a shock for me. Even though I found the music profoundly unpleasant to listen to, it did introduce my to a strange style that I had not heard much of in the past; cybergrind. Essentially a fusion of grindcore and glitchy electronics, one would be hard pressed to find a band in metal that sounds more like someone's great uncle setting up an old internet modem. All the same, the way that Whourkr chopped up the otherwise generic deathgrind with programming was interesting, and I wanted to hear what Whourkr could develop into. 'Concrete' is still a jarring cyber mess at points, but Whourkr did take a move here that I wasn't expecting from them, incorporating actual melodies and real instruments into their sound. On their second time around, Whourkr has created a much more diverse collection of songs here, although they still tend to fall into the realm of kitschy cybergrind that I first heard them as.
Whourkr's trademark sound of digital chopping and guttural 'br00tal' death metal is here, and much of it sounds like a continuation of what they were doing on the debut, 'Naat'. Dirty death metal riffs are played, backed by a drum machine, and electronic tweaks made to make everything sound artificial. I can really appreciate that Whourkr takes electronic music into metal and uses it for much more than a gimmick, but it is one of those things that I could respect much more if it was still on the drawing board. While actually listening, I do not find the sound enjoyable at all, and especially when they go into these breakdowns that rely on the digital elements attempting to make things sound as jarring as possible, its tough to listen to, even if there isn't too much actual depth in the sound.
What makes the cybergrind elements here much less tired is the addition of many new sounds that I would never have guessed Whourkr would add into their sound. 'Santo' is a Spanish-tinged acoustic yodel, for example, and hearing such a polar contrast like that from what I am used to Whourkr doing was just as shocking as when I first heard this band's music. Other highlights include some great use of piano, and its played very well. All the same, these aspects ironically feel like gimmicks of their own; things that don't necessarily belong in the music, but that Whourkr threw in there, perhaps as a self-conscious realization that their sound was a little too one-sided. In any case, it is a nice addition, but I'm sure Whourkr could have found additions to their sound that better complimented what they already had.
'Concrete' is a huge improvement over 'Naat' in terms of musicality, althugh they do seem to have lost a bit of that identity that made them so shocking to me in the first place. It will be very interesting to hear what Whourkr does in the future, because even though I haven't enjoyed their music, it is clear to me that they are not afraid to constantly try new things.