Well this is the first review of this album, and the first review of the entire band, and I'm going to introduce Nasum to MMA by saying these guys were a cut above the rest of the Grind scene at the time. Definitely one of my favourites - ever - this album gets the top spot in their discography for me. I don't know what it is about it: it could be the unusually phenomenal production for a Grind band's first album (bare in mind the really filthy production of Carcass's pilot album, and likewise with Cattle Decapitation and Napalm Death); it could be the outstanding musicianship; it could also be the really mature approach to songwriting (songs being not too long as to be a bit of a chore to listen to, yet not too short as to actually BE a song of structure and recurring themes); it could EVEN be the fact that they attempted to resurrect the old-school style of Grindcore that they all grew up with (a la Napalm Death, Terrorizer...). I'm going to tell you now, it is a conglomeration of all these glued together. It's so RARE to find an album like this anywhere: late 90s grind, with an old-school approach topped off with great songwriting, musicianship and production? I challenge ANYONE to find another.
Fact of the matter is though, it's all good me telling you how great this album is, but you need proof right?
Well what better proof can I give you than if you actually listen to the album? From the purely explosive opening track "This Is", to the grind classic "Time to Act", to the ultra heavy "Shapeshifter", to the funky "My Philosophy", the amusing count in of "It's Never Too Late" and to the painfully epic closer, this music will leave you feeling like a teenage victim to sodomy, you'll feel like rebelling against absolutely everything due to the lyrical content, and ultimately your ears will feel like they've been inappropriately penetrated by the gigantic iron-spined penis of pure Grind. And let me tell you this: if you are used to really heavy music, you will ABSOLUTELY F*CKING LOVE IT. It shows no mercy, yet never gets repetitive like a lot of Grind is on borderline of doing.
Onto the music itself? Well it's oddly sophisticated. Take the amazing outroductory song. It is a total of three minutes (which is the equivalent of a Mahler Symphony in the Grindcore world), and builds entirely on two themes, the first played quite clearly at the start after the noise effects, the second occuring in the second half of the "chorus" riff (I use the term loosely). They are then sped up to double speed, and to fill out the inevitable gaps they add some rhythmic funkiness on a single note. Sounds a mess at first, but is pretty formulaic:
First theme - slow (w/ build up of instruments) First theme - fast Rhythmic interest - Second theme (repeated) First theme - fast Rhythmic interest - Second theme (repeated) Second theme alternated to finish fast section First theme - slow (faded out)
Now call me pretentious and all, but a Grind song in Binary Form with two recurring themes? This sort of structure is used by the likes of Bach and Iron Maiden, hardly ever in Grind. And that's where the sophistication lies. Most of the tracks have this kind of structured "song" form, and therefore makes the album so concise and listenable. Of course you get the odd exception that are just plain light-hearted humour in the veins of the infamous "You Suffer" by Napalm Death, but that just gives the album more taste. Mor variety. And then the album is brought into the "old-school" bracket by having largely pentatonic and phrygian riffs in tonality that last on average about two bars per phrase. To top it off, you have extremely talented musicians delivering the music - tight as hell.
The lyrics are fantastic as well, covering most political issues and anti-fascist sentiments. Have a read through the song titles to get a decent idea. A few of the songs are in Swedish as well, which gives a nice little national touch.
Overall, it is sophisticated, inventive Grindcore that is also old-school at the same time, smashing the common stereotypes of "hairy men just shouting and hitting things" to a gazillion pieces. And most importantly: it's f*cking BRILLIANT to bang your head to! Great for when you are angry, great for when you want to actually LISTEN to music, what more could anyone possibly ask from a Grind album? Oh yeah, and did I mention plenty of drum solos?