Thursday 19 March 2020

Feastem - Graveyard Earth (2020)

Country: Finland
Style: Grindcore
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 13 Mar 2020
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Metal Archives | Official Website | YouTube

Knowing I'd be reviewing the new Waltari album today, I looked for something as loud and raucous as possible to balance against it. Feastem looked like a great choice, given that they were formed in 2005 "to play the fastest, most pissed off grindcore imaginable". I wouldn't say that they succeeded but the band are certainly fast and pissed off, even if the quality of musicianship is high.

The downside is quickly obvious, if you'll forgive the pun. Feastem's fourth album is their shortest yet, over in under twenty minutes, which is way too short for an album. Just call it an EP instead, folks, or even a mini-album, anything to highlight that it's really short. Then again, their longest thus far, 2011's World Delirium, was still shorter than Reign in Blood, albeit a little closer. I'm docking a point here as a token complaint about length.

While I've seen both thrash metal and death metal associated with Feastem, I don't hear that here. This is old school punk played fast and ferociously to fit firmly in the grindcore category. There are no guitar solos. Every song here kicks off fast, finds a groove and explores it briefly before wrapping up. There are fourteen tracks here, only one of which makes it past the two minute mark. Two of them don't even get to a minute and the powerelectronics outro is longer at 1:14 than half of the actual songs. It's kind of like DOA on speed or early Discharge with more buried vocals.

Fortunately, the music is excellent. The band don't care about gimmickry, so there's no gore or porngrind here. They're more old school punk politicians, railing against the current state of world affairs, the title track being as telling right now as anything else I've heard during the COVID-19 pandemic. It's certainly pessimistic but, frankly, lyrics like "Mob mentality, a hive mind in frenzy, the corpse of civilization, the wreckage of hope" could have been written about my local Walmart this morning. Then again, that could be Walmart any day, pandemic or not.

Even if this is perfect music for those with attention deficit disorder, the songs don't get old. I enjoyed this as much, if not more, on my fifth listen as on my first. Certainly the riffs, which are all simple but effective, are surprisingly memorable for grindcore. I Will Never Kill manages to cram two such into a minute and both are so simple but so effective that I could well wake up in the morning with them playing in my head.

That's not to say that there aren't more ambitious musical elements here. I rather like Sortovalta, the first of five songs in Finnish, because the riff is rather like a call and response between drums and guitar. It sounds great and it doesn't sound like anything else here, highlighting a variety that I don't often hear in grindcore, where the in your face effect is the one and only point. No, you're not going to hear a sitar or a trombone or something else wildly adventurous for the genre, but you're not going to hear fourteen takes on the same song either.

For a start, while this is generally just as fast as you'd expect, there are songs here that slow down. The title track evolves nicely, benefitting from a whole two minutes and ten seconds of running time, more than anything else on the album. That's not typical, of course, but there are moments in a few other songs that highlight how Feastem don't need to spend all their time at a hundred miles an hour. Terror Balance has a neat section that's far slower than the rest of the song too.

I liked this, even if I wanted a lot more of it than Feastem were willing to give me. I reviewed a few albums last year that are longer than this band's entire back catalogue put together and that includes four albums, a couple of EPs and a couple more split singles. Remembering that Reign in Blood was released on cassette with the entire album on both sides, maybe Feastem can throw out a cassette version of Graveyard Earth with the entire album twice on both sides. I'd still listen through the whole thing.

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