Unspeakable Axe Records
Reviewed By Luke Saunders
Philly grinders pay homage to contemporary legends on debut platter
Naming your album after a musical genre is a bold and perhaps even arrogant move. Then again, grindcore is about the most unpretentious and uncompromising form of music on the planet, so perhaps we should give Philadelphia trio Unrest a pass. Unrest formed back in 2006 with the intention of writing grindcore in the spirit of the late, great Swedish grinders Nasum. The trio of Brooks Wilson (bass), Chris Grigg (drums, vocals), and Steve Jansson (vocals, guitars) actually recorded an album in 2011 which was subsequently shelved. Grigg moved to New York and last year the original mixes were dug up and tinkered with before vocals were recorded and the band’s debut opus, simply titled Grindcore, is now finally getting its official release.
Despite the issues regarding the delayed progress of Unrest, the trio have kept themselves busy through their combined membership of several notable bands, including Crypt Sermon, TrenchRot, and Woe. Their diverse experience within the underground metal scene has served the band well here, with the trio going about their grind with a minimum of fuss but a truckload of tight, energetic chops and professionalism. In sync with Unrest’s mission to write songs imbuing the spirit of Nasum, the album is naturally heavily influenced by the legendary grinders; particularly later-era works Helvete and Shift. On the flipside, a smattering of their own identity and a classic grind vibe lends the album some of its own character, even if Grindcore isn’t the most original or inventive grind release out there. Drawing influence from genre legends like Terrorizer and Napalm Death along with modern day lynchpins Nasum has helped Unrest fit into a snug limbo zone between vintage and modern day grind scenes.
Despite their overall lack of originality, Unrest has crafted quite an enjoyable slab of no-frills grind that’s well-executed and smartly written. Brevity works in the band’s favour, as it generally does within the grind scene. Most of the songs blast for a minute or two before the band moves onto the next nugget of grinding violence. The whole package clocks-in at a pleasingly concise 25-minute timeframe. As is typical of the scene individual tracks are often difficult to isolate as the album speeds along with reckless abandon like an out of control, supercharged war machine. Light speed blasting and d-beat flurries form the bulk of the material, with the abrasive onslaught broken up by those sweet payoff grooves and occasional slivers of punkish melody. “We’re Calling You Out” begins the album in as fast and furious a fashion as fans of the genre could hope for. It’s over in just 44 seconds but it sets the tone for the carnage ahead.
There’s a decent level of song-writing variety on offer that breaks up the single-minded monotony that can so often derail a grindcore album. So although Grindcore is predictable to an extent it’s not completely devoid of twists, such as the almost anthemic surge and vicious climactic groove of “Nothing (That’s All You Have to Give)” or the sludgy, feedback-laden gut punch of closer “12 Drown”. Sonically, Grindcore has plenty of punch and girth behind the individual instruments, bringing burly crunch and clarity without dulling the band’s raw aesthetics and in-your-face delivery.
Unrest set out to create a specific kind of grindcore album to pay tribute to their fallen heroes. Fortunately, aside from the obvious influence, Grindcore transcends mere tribute status and stands out as an entertaining and rock solid grind album in its own right.