Magrudergrind finally return following six-year absence on vitriolic, violent new platter ‘II’

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Absence makes the heart grow … confused? Or not. It’s not uncommon for a band to go away for a while after putting out a record. But stay away too long, and people who followed might start to wonder where you’re hiding out or if you’re ever going to surface again.

That thought definitely crossed my mind over D.C.-based grind/powerviolence menaces Magrudergrind, who haven’t come up with a full-length effort since 2009’s cataclysmic self-titled display (released by Willowtip). It’s not like they’re been totally absent, as they did that 2010, Scion-backed EP “Crusher” that weirdly pissed people off. They also inexplicably showed up on an episode of “Veep,” one that made me sit up and nearly scare the shit out of my wife by yelling/asking, “Is that Magrudergrind?!” Sure enough. But for the most part, the past half-decade has found the band making nary a new sound until now with the arrival of their new record “II.”

magrudergrind coverToday, Magrudergrind are ensconced on Relapse, a home that makes almost too much sense, and they’ve got with them a 15-track record that blisters by before you even know what hit you, proving that they may not have been totally prolific as of late, but they haven’t forgotten how to rip off a face. Produced by Kurt Ballou, the band–vocalist Avi Kulawy, guitarist R.J. Ober, drummer Casey Moore–sound as if they never left, going absolutely apeshit on these songs that should give the staggering grind genre a kick right in the balls.

These 15 songs blow by in an absolute fury, so there’s not a lot of time to wax poetic. And we shouldn’t anyway, right? OK, opener “Imperium In Imperio” rips the lid off, with vocals piercing and the speed chugging right into “Divine Dictation,” where noise boils and squalls, and the band hits a nasty, thrashy groove. “The Opportunist” picks up from there, with a blistering pace dressed with vicious vocals and unforgiving pounding, barreling into “Relentless Hatred” and its mucky, sludgy presence. Deep growls mix with razor-sharp screams, with the pace leaving everything in its dust. “Sacrificial Hire” is on fire right away, with crazed vocals, the drums demolishing, and a hardcore feel settling in at the end. “War for Resources” slams by, shocking and leaving bleeding wounds, and then it’s into the record’s epic “Black Banner,” a 3:26 masher that is super crunchy with gravel vocals. The assault is totally furious here, with the track beating you about the head and torso before disappearing behind a cloud of smoke.

“Hara-Kiri” is devastating and doom-laced, a track that takes turns dizzying you and making you suffocate in the mud. “State Affairs” is a guttural burst, with the band playing circles around you and driving into “Regressive Agenda,” a cut that thrashes and pummels with its playing and the wild yowls at the end. “Incinerate State” has gurgled cries, guitars wailing and leaving a syrupy film, and a slowly smashing finish that hammers home the exclamation point. “Unit 731” has noise wafting and stinging, doom smudging up the scene, and then a ferocious explosion of forces that comes out of nowhere and powders bones. “Icaro” has a heavy punk feel, more shrieked vocals that meet up with raspy shouts, and a blasting finish. “Husayni-Handschar” is pelted with gruff yells and speedy guitars, generating a cyclone of energy that pulls into closer “Pharmacide” that punches you right in the stupid mouth. Chaos reigns here, while the noise boils, the vocals go for the throat, and the track, and this virulent record, comes to an end.

Yeah, there was nothing wrong with missing Magrudergrind hard, and it sort of feels like all is right in the world again with them back in operation. “II” should tide over anyone who was getting pissy that they hadn’t gotten new music from the band, and this sounds like the soundtrack to the overthrow of every shitty asshole in this country only out for themselves. Nothing is safe again, as it always should have been.

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