Grindcore is somewhat of a difficult genre for me. On the one hand, these bands have incredible enthusiasm and energy, and they rarely write albums that are too long for their own good. On the other, I have found that, similar to some black metal bands, this means a total abandonment of songwriting in favour of constant blasting. The most likely scenario is that I just haven’t found many grindcore bands that really click with me yet, but anything with the Unspeakable Axe Records seal of approval will get me listening. For that reason, I was pleasantly surprised by the quite obviously titled “Grindcore” by Unrest. In staying true to the genre, this album does have a lot of blastbeats, plenty of yelling/grunting (just slightly more brutal than one would find in hardcore punk), and of course, short but energetic songs.
This begs the question, what does Unrest do well that I haven’t heard in my admittedly limited exposure to grindcore? The first thing is the production. Though the drums are loud, they are not overpowering. Instead, they allow the guitars to be audible at all times. This of course brings up the next important point: Unrest brings the riffs. Seriously, there is not a moment on this album devoid of great riffs. Sometimes they are thrashier/punkier (showing homage to the genre’s roots), while at other times they are more straightforward tremolo picking. In either case, they’re always impressive, and the thick tone makes this incredibly clear (just listen to the opening chords of “Faith Is A Hearse” to hear this). The drumming on this album is also stellar. The biggest selling point is its variation. Unrest's drummer knows how to vary up beats to move from frantic mayhem to creating an instant circle pit frenzy, and this makes the album much more interesting than if he had simply played the same blasting beat for the whole record.
One of my common criticisms with this style of music is that it feels like bands avoid writing unique songs in favour of full-album experiences. To some extent that is true here; this album is definitely best appreciated when listened to in one sitting. However, it’s also easy to groove along to the pounding rhythms of “Inaction”, or the mosh-inducing ending to “Protest Culture”. The aforementioned “Faith Is A Hearse” brings some atmospheric qualities to the music, keeping things slow for the first half of the song, and delivering some powerful emotions. Ultimately, though my overall rating may not reflect it, this is a truly awesome release. It has opened my eyes to a new style of music that I’ve been largely unable to appreciate before, and while I don’t anticipate seeking out much grindcore now, I will be revisiting Unrest’s debut album quite a bit.
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"Faith Is A Hearse"
3.75/5 or 75%.
Written by Scott