Agoraphobic Nosebleed - Agorapocalypse
Relapse Records
13 songs (28:30)
Release year: 2009
Official Website, Relapse Records
Reviewed by Charles
I often wonder what explains the total collapse of creativity in the horror movie scene in recent years. There are the easy answers; why waste money on an original vision when you can do a lobotomised remake for quick returns? Who cares if you piss on a few graves in the process? Well, why not. It certainly provides those of us about to put Suspiria in the DVD player yet again with more convenient validation for our much-loved meta-narrative about the increasing idiocy of the Western consumer.

Perhaps a more interesting way to look at it, though, is that the way the genre has developed means that those films we thought were pushing boundaries were actually building them. Last House on the Left was a groundbreaking film because it cheerfully presented its audience with hitherto unimagined brutality. And ever since those days, route one to a “groundbreaking” tag in horror cinema has been to top whatever has gone before you for violence. But that isn’t groundbreaking. It’s getting up another rung on a ladder, and people have stopped caring about what’s at the top.

As with horror, so with grindcore? Altered States of America was essentially a re-tread of You Suffer, repeated 99 times, masquerading as something “out there”. I remember buying it years ago, totally enraptured by a sense of my own edginess. Now, I listen to that cute little 3 inch CD about as often as I put on Scum and fast-forward to track 12. It’s extremity presented as innovation. And that is why Agorapocalypse, with 13 tracks averaging over two minutes each, is the best thing Agoraphobic Nosebleed could have released. In nailing its execution, they are no longer the cartoonish, eye-twitching weirdos in the more erudite company of bands like Antigama. Well, they still are, but this record makes that a good thing…

Because this is fucking cool. The cramped council flat in which extreme metal and hardcore punk had been forced to live out their violent marriage has been exchanged for a luxury pad in which both elements have space to indulge their own nefarious urges. Witness the slobbering, rabid dog of a thrash guitar solo on Flamenco Snuff, released from its metaphysical four-second cage and given bionic limbs by a vet in a Sleep Terror shirt. Or the way that the inhuman energy of opener Timelord Zero explodes into a tightly structured punkish necksnapper. What’s also interesting (although not surprising given their occasional penchant for Melvins covers) is the slowed-down violence of some of these tunes. Sections of White on White Crime, for example, scrape at the inside of your skull with masticated oxidised razors. This grindingly down-tempo molestation is not some hot drama school graduate getting slashed up in some Texas Chainsaw remake. It is Daniela Doria vomiting out her intestines in slow motion, weeping blood, in Fulci’s Gates of Hell.

The obnoxious vocal triumvirate yelps, squawks and rants, combining to perfect the role of unnerving burned-out stranger; cornering you in the pub and making you listen uncomfortably to their crack experiences. The drum machine is remarkable, in that it doesn’t actually sound like a drum machine at all. It seems they are so confident in it that they give it its own solo slot during Question of Integrity. Some of the riff shapes are odd and even artsy, as in Trauma Queen, or the angularly freeform guitar soloing in White on White Crime.

Excellent. This is a shockingly violent album dripping with menace, and fits comfortably alongside recent efforts such as Warning or Evolution through Revolution as a grind album with a distinctive voice in 2009.

Killing Songs :
White on White Crime, Flamenco Snuff, Timelord Zero
Charles quoted 80 / 100
Goat quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Agoraphobic Nosebleed that we have reviewed:
Agoraphobic Nosebleed - Arc (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
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There are 5 replies to this review. Last one on Sat May 23, 2009 5:31 am
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