Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sufferinfuck "In Boredom" (Grindcore Karaoke)

A word on Grindcore Karaoke first. Set up by Agoraphobic Nosebleed's J. Randall (who we should observe at this juncture, apropos of nothing, is one of grindcore's better lyricists) GK is a public service website which has veritably bloomed since its inception only a year or so ago and which already offers a frankly exhausting array of well over 170 completely free download releases, not at all confined to grindcore (the grindcore there is here tends to the trebly and downright bewildering) but harvesting a prettily eclectic crop of experimental and noise material too. It's always intriguing wading through their epic release list: "what kind of band name is that ?", "what genre labels have they randomly assigned themselves ?" and "is this one going to be a minute long or an hour long ?"

True, a fair proportion of stuff on Grindcore Karaoke is at least borderline unlistenable, but we're quite fond of unlistenable music, especially when it's *interesting* unlistenable (Japan's YOKOZUNA-bot are setting some new standards here). Unlistenable music has always been far preferable to the 99% of listenable music that is bad listenable music (other things preferable to bad listenable music include: silence; ambient noise; and, um, all other sounds in the world).

But *do* scour the website from time to time, because as well as a host of reliably diverting um, insania, J. Randall's philanthropy gives you noteworthy curios, like Colombia's fearsome Chulo; solid sets from bands you may have come across elsewhere (Ablach, who were on the ace PowerItUp Nasum tribute, or English dogs - well, "Isle of Dogs" dogs - Evisorax, who supported Wormrot on their UK tour last year); and there can be real trophies hidden within, such as Individual Distortion's remarkable Sarah and hip-hop referencing cyber / ambient / grind and - more conventional, but nearly as rewarding - the browbeating, self-titled ten-tracker from Chest Pain last autumn. Sufferinfuck's "In Boredom", another ten-track EP, is the latest of these 'finds' and, for the avoidance of doubt, it is *highly* listenable.

The EP begins with with a lengthy sample which keeps you in a measure of suspense before "The Harbinger Of Death" and "Phoney Wars" lay out Sufferinfuck's, er, basic value proposition, viz. a rattling meld of d-beat and breakneck hardcore with the odd grindcore riff retrieved from the Ark, and some excellent dinking little bass runs: this sort of merry musical mayhem sometimes gets shoved in the powerviolence drawer nowadays, or even (by those less exacting than ourselves) described as straight grindcore; but "In Boredom" is really, frankly, just punk in its most primal 21st century form, a variant on the magic provided on slightly different terms right now by all sorts of US bands, from Backslider, BearTrap and Sidetracked through to the impossibly good Scapegoat. It was a pleasant surprise to discover, after first listening, that Sufferinfuck (like Ablach) are actually Scottish: when we'd initially read that the songs were recorded in Livingston, we'd kind of assumed that must be some boho suburb of NYC or Boston, MA rather than the town (of Meadowbank Thistle FC ignominy) in West Lothian.

Standout tunes on "In Boredom", like "Nothing Is Real" and the (Mind Eraser-ish) "Mind Eraser" are cracking rants, drivingly played and drawing from the same raw anger pool as Discharge or Sore Throat, with "Upright Swine", which for its sins boasts an almost melodic riff, not far behind. And there are the regulation Borstal (short sharp shock) tunes too, such as "Morons", the title track and the closing, fairly self-explanatory "Fuck Work". Most intriguing is the slightly more experimental "Stagnant", which comprises two minutes of careful, crackling dissonance - punctuated with guttural barks - while a discernible song structure hovers nervously but audibly in the background: it's the sort of thing that Weekend Nachos might come up with to bookend some of their sterner stuff, and works very effectively. So today, treat this EP as your perfect, bloody valentine: it seems these are good times for the new sound of young Scotland.

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