Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Music Review: Nasum - Human 2.0
I bought this album back in 2000 when CDs were still priced at £14.99 (they still do for most imports) and the world was mostly liberal and tolerant. Tony Blair was still okay and Bill Clinton was president of the United States of America.
Then people (in Britain) uses Yahoo! Auction instead of eBay. Most of us haven't heard of blogs. Instead we hung around Yahoo! Clubs and other Metal related BBS and IRC channels hurling abuses at 'club music fans' (ironically I am now a fan of club music). The backlash against Metallica began when they took on Napster.
I used to dress up in black Napalm Death t-shirts, had my limited edition Eastpak plastered with Obituary and Iron Maiden patches (I still have it minus the patches of course). I wore ripped jeans. My hair was longish. I read Terrorizer and other underground fanzines and attend gigs at the Brighton Gloucester.
Nasum was then one of the big names in the Grindcore genre. Grindcore was an art form. Despite what many with no experience in listening to hard music would perceive, Grindcore isn't all noise. It is related to Death Metal and some bands has fused the two genres (eg. Carcass' Necroticism) but is actually closer to Thrash Metal and 1980s the hardcore punk sound.
The genre first rose in the US in the 1980s through underground bands such as Repulsion. It came to the UK and the legendary Napalm Death (which I am sure some of you have heard) created what would be the basis (and actually coined the term) of modern Grindcore. The sound involves ultra fast and intense but simple riffing and thrashing drum patterns. The vocals are mostly vomit inducing grunting. Songs are mostly short - less than twenty seconds blast beats.
Lyrical content wasn't important but some of the pioneers of Grindcore sound such as Napalm Death has traces of their punk roots intact, hence the lyrics are often political.
I first got into Grindcore through Carcass, the British band who shot to fame when they invented gore-grind, a sub genre where the lyrics would usually dwell into gore related thoughts. Further recognition for the genre was cemented when John Peel invited Carcass to perform for one of his Peel Sessions. Carcass first few albums were pure grinding. Pure noise as some might put it. They changed direction during the Necroticism album, which was a technical and commercial achievement.
Their final two album, Heartwork and Swansong proved the turning point. Gone were the grindcore sound and in was the core and complex melodic Death Metal genre. In fact if the grunts were to be removed from Swansong, one would probably mistaken it for a Britrock album.
Back to Human 2.0. The CD was printed under the Relapse Records label and was imported from Germany. No wonder it was expensive. I suspect they are still in operation. Hard music isn't exactly lighting up the charts these days but the underground scene should be strong enough to sustain the label.
This was one of the last Grindcore albums I bought. I used to buy them by the bucketloads or download them from Napster (before Metallica shut them down of course). Small bands around Europe would send us sample CDs so we could promote it on fanzines and internet chatrooms. I remembered I was promoting (no affiliation, I was just doing it by myself) Anal Cunt by converting some of their tracks into MP3s and posting them on my old website.
Ah, Anal Cunt... What a band. Just thinking about them makes me weep. Their songs usually last a twenty seconds hence posting MP3s on the web ain't difficult. A typical album would contain roughly 50 tracks.
Hei, why don't I just get on with the blasted review? Well the album has only 25 tracks. The longest an amazing 2:57 minutes while the shortest was anembarrassingg 18 seconds (short of the Guinness Book of Records shortest song ever record held by Napalm Death - the 1.3 second You Suffer). You might think 18 seconds is pretty stupid but it does allow the three lines of Swedish grunting:
Sick - system built on suffering
Sick - system built on pain
It's a bullet in the head of every happy boy and girl
The production of the album was extremely well done. The technical riffing and the interchange between hard grinding noise and groovy Death Metal sound was well done. Brutal.
Anybody getting into Death Metal or Grindcore should start with an album, and this should be fine. The brutality isn't as over the top as in their earlier Inhale/Exhale. In fact you could say that this was almost a mainstream release.
Recommended Grindcore releases:
Carcass - Symphonies of Sickness
Godflesh - Godflesh
Impaled - Dead Shall Dead Remain
Napalm Death - Scum/From Enslavement to Obliteration