Pittsburgh can be a shitty place. It’s great, too, but there are things about this place that bother the shit out of me. Like how we’re one of the least habitable cities to live if you’re not a white person. Or the not-so-subtle racism that feels like it can be as plentiful as our river water. Or the fact that people think Primanti Bros. is acceptable cuisine.
But back to the good stuff, we have a really great heavy music scene that goes way beyond Code Orange, and one of the bands keeping that’s keeping it exciting is Narakah, a grindcore monster that comprises members of bands such as Demiltia, the former Slaves BC (now known as Úzkost), Meth Quarry, Prostitution and plenty of others, and they’ve just dealt their insane new EP “Blast Haven” that’ll knock the living shit out of you. At nine tracks and 12:27, this is a fucking mind melt that the band—vocalist Adam Bailey, guitarist Chris Smith, bassist Evan Kunkle, drummer Jason Spence—pours all their vitriol and anger into, and maybe they’re also annoyed by the same Pittsburgh bullshit as I am. I’m projecting. Let’s just get into this thing and get fucking fried.
“Látom” has strange noises hovering and synth pulsing before the grind rips your fucking arms off, hammers your skull, and mars you with violent fury, moving into “Samurai Dreams” that feels weird at first before the fires explode. Gnarly vocals and melodic surges unite and punish, and then it’s on to “Beretta” that’s a full-on assault with shrieks wrenching, the playing slashing away, and the animalistic assault ending in sticky globs of blood. “Cynocephalus (Destro’s End)” is a machine-like instrumental that swims in ghostly sounds and strange mysteries, leaning into “Black Guard” that lets riffs crunch and speed rule. Heavy thrashing and vocals that aim to slice your head from your neck leave you in a heaping pile, gasping for air as the title track rips open and unleashes beastly power. The growls punish as the playing feels meaty and crazed, ripping into the belly of “Implosive Sonata” that lets loose wild shrieks and bloody outbursts that leave you bruised all over. The pace slows just a bit as the thick basslines flex, marching through horrors and death snarls. “Lazar Ritual Sodomy” is 40 seconds of penetrating sounds, explosive playing, and zapping melodies, all making their way toward closer “Dakimakura” that sounds like a machine come to life, wreaking havoc among society. The drums splatter as the bass unloads, bringing the fury to a fevered pitch until the sour final warning (from the cult classic “Videodrome”), “See you in Pittsburgh,” slays you.
I’m even more furious about this goddamn pandemic because I haven’t been able to see Narakah live, and I can only imagine the assault that would result from them playing cuts from “Blast Haven,” another delirious release from this grind attack unit. It’s 12 and a half minutes of violence that never lets you get your head above water long enough for a deep breath, as you keep battling for your survival. Pittsburgh has never seemed so dangerous, and I blame that solely on Narakah.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/narakahgrind/
To buy the album, go here: https://narakah.bandcamp.com/