Death grinders Theories inject tons of anger, ill feelings into bloody good debut ‘Regression’


Photo by Invisible Hour

The ability to make someone feel absolutely miserable is an art form not everyone is able to conquer. The ones that do can it can take that dark magic and spread it all over the universe, distributing their brand of fury and depression for everyone to experience.

Brand new Seattle death grinders Theories already have that thing down pat on their debut album “Regression,” their vicious, gnarly record that’s found an unlikely home on Metal Blade. That’s not a shot at Metal Blade, by the way. It’s just that bands of this ilk generally end up at other noteworthy places such as Relapse, so it’s cool to see the metal behemoth of a label giving these guys a proper thrust into the world. And having such a big label behind their debut should do wonders for Theories, because they are as vicious and explosive as they come. Now more people will be exposed to their thunderous vitriol that could give you a massive headache (uh … in a good way) once you’re done with this 10-track monster.

Theories coverThe components that make up Theories have made their marks elsewhere with other devastating outfits including Samothrace, Book of Black Earth, and Skarp, and you can hear elements of all of those groups mixed into this poisonous concoction. Comprising the lineup are vocalist Rick Powell, guitarist Lee McGlothlen, bassist Kush Karimi, and drummer Joe Axler, who combined their destructive forces to make for a fiery, not-to-miss debut record. The songs are on the shorter end, but the guys make the best of their time here, spilling tons of chaos and madness into these cuts and, yes, making sure you feel as miserable and agitated as possible along the way.

“Burnt Concrete” is the first burst of hell from this band, as a vicious, sludgy stream of mucky grind pours forth like cement about to harden. The track crushes without mercy, with the vocals lurching and bruising and the drums being completely decimated. “Cycle of Decay” is smeared with soot and mauls hard. The pace picks up, as they push forward with surprising force, and some melodic guitar lines burn underneath the chaos, allowing the mud to glimmer. “Shame” has punishing riffs, vocals that trample you hard, and a strong, smashing tempo, where it feels like the music is splitting your guts open and spraying them everywhere. “Abortive Crescent” has a breathless pace as it begins its assault from the word go, and the package of thrashy noise and aggressive battery raises the threat level and keeps its focus on killing until it finally bleeds out. “Bathing in Pig’s Blood” is as crazed and smearing as its title indicates, with the band rewarding your attention with menacing death and vocals that sound like they may have left Powell hoarse and raw when he was finished.

“First World’s Last Breath” unleashes pummeling drums, a thrashy and toxic guitar display, and vocals that reach into the deeper end for visions of complete annihilation. The horrors here are evident and they stick to your side long after the cut subsides. “Swimming in Mud,” despite its title, is one of the more adventurous, mind-altering of all of the songs included here. The guitars bend and sway, leaving a slurry feeling, and the vocals are massive and feel like they’re delivering a lifetime’s worth of pain. “Revenge/Rewild” rips apart immediately, with the guitars tearing a gaping hole in your chest and the other elements feeding off the carnage. The vocals, by the way, sound like they’re spat out in disgust, like Powell is trying to relieve himself of the worst thing he’s ever tasted. “Hell in Her Eyes” is the longest of the group at 4:59, and it starts in a bed of chilling guitars and eerie transmissions before they take a turn headlong into total devastation. The band adds some different colors on this track, like streaks of orange and purple across a dusk sky, while melody cuts through the smoke at the end, giving the track a thrilling finish. Closer “Landfill” then takes everything back into a raging fire, with hard riffs, vocals that are gruff and unforgiving, and a mangling last burst of terror that gets in some final gut punches.

If you are looking for something that’s good and angry and bound to leave you feeling miserable and irritated when all is said and done, Theories could be your band. “Regression” is a fine debut for the band, a record you should give a serious shot, especially if you want something to align with your own blackness and inner turmoil. This band will reward you time and time again, even if they also leave you with skinned knees on the verge of infection.

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