When allegiances become day-to-day obsession men rise from learned intelligence into the worst of their primal, shit-hurling, ingrained instincts. Constant feigned but seemingly violent grandstanding fuels the most dangerous among us, the fool who’d spend their short oxygen thieving existence on Earth as ‘actors’ among civilizations devoid of critical thought in service to their own survival. The ivory tower of the opportunistic sociopath gleams with such a blinding light today that the rest of us burn afire like too-densely packed Reds; Some set blaze to the apparatus with reckless abandon for the fallout and others fume uselessly, spreading cancer among their own. Baltimore grind-thrashers Noisem approach the chewed-raw psyche of our globally uncivil times with fists clenched and appropriately divisive, immediate confrontation: Will you stand against the unjust decimation of humanity or curl up and die in the hellfire egocentrism creates? ‘Cease to Exist’ is a lean rifle-blasted bark of empathy under duress of nihilism and a fine slashing of the gristle from a band we all knew capable of dethroning the old gods of grindcore.
Formed in 2008 when the Phillips brothers, Harley (drums) Sebastian (guitars) were roughly 10 and 14 years old Necropsy would become Noisem in 2013 after the release of ‘Endless Aggression’ (2012), which would become Noisem‘s debut ‘Agony Defined’ (2013) soon after. Still teenagers at this point they’d landed themselves on a relatively exclusive island of brutal thrash energy reserved for classic groups like Dark Angel, Insanity, and Destruction (Illinois) and at the time there wasn’t even the slightest inkling that they were frickin’ kids thanks to some relatively dark photography and sharply professional performances. My review for that debut in 2013 both made fun of the band name and suggested they had the potential to release an album on par with ‘Death After Death’ but, it seems their goals would change soon after with an increasing focus on marrying classic grindcore and death/thrash influences as their skill set and interests matured. Their big ‘break’ came with the well-received ‘Blossoming Decay’ (2015) which saw some small line-up changes and a heavy focus on a ‘World Downfall’ style of thrashing deathgrind that’d rub shoulders with Rotten Sound‘s ‘Under Pressure’ as well as old classic obscurities from early Macabre and Atrocity (Connecticut), and oh man was it a disappointment for death/thrash fans who might not have seen the grindcore dam about to break. It was a fantastic record at the end of the day and it appeared as if Noisem would disappear off the face of the Earth soon after.
By 2016 longtime vocalist Tyler Carnes and bassist Billy Carnes had left for good to focus on their death rock/goth punk band Lover’s Touch while Sebastian Phillips was busy joining former Necropsy vocalist Ben Anft in filling out the line-up for deathgrinders Castle Freak. When Noisem would revive in 2017 it was a leaner crew with just the Phillips brothers and Anft on bass/vocals going forward and they haven’t missed a beat since. If anything the trio have produced their most focused and intense grinder to date in ‘Cease to Exist’ despite the moderate clipping of their death/thrash wings. I’ll be pretty blunt here, I don’t think there is a lack of riffs by any stretch of the imagination but only a handful of them are truly memorable this time around. I’d still say they’ve got it clinched to a tighter degree than say, King Parrot, but this record enters such a well-trodden realm stylistically speaking that Noisem have started to feel less ‘special’ at face value. “Sensory Overload” is a good example of this, a very standard late 80’s/early 90’s deathgrind song that is exciting, ripping, and fuckin’ cool on its own but pretty rote in the grand scheme of the niche.
Through no stroke of luck it turns out Anft is a beast who capably fills the role. His vocal tone reminds me of a more reserved Impaled at times and 80’s Killjoy (Necrophagia) others. Ultimately I wanted a more present bass tone throughout and I felt Anft‘s tone really needed a kick of filth, some kind of clank or distortion here and there for emphasis to break things up (see: “Filth and Stye”) especially when they blaze into peak Terrorizer resemblance. I understand the need for a certain balance on a short, brutal grindcore record but that small gripe left a couple of tracks feeling flat for my taste along the way. “Eyes Pried Open”, “So Below” and the fantastic opener “Constricted Cognition” are less death/thrash influenced than expected and appear driven by more ‘modern’ thrash metal riff style which I actually enjoyed; I think that sort of material is a new and more interesting strength for the project and a point of differentiation they can optimistically build upon in the future.
Despite how positive an experience the full listen is on repeat and in the moment I’m left grasping for any considerable lasting impression. This isn’t a huge issue, as per usual with ‘old school’ grindcore hybridization but, it definitely won’t stand out for the grind addict as much as the thrasher who might be a grindcore dabbler. I’m somewhere in the middle where post-Nasum grindcore doesn’t tickle my titties much but I’ll revisit the ’86-’99 spread intermittently; I’d say a record like ‘Cease to Exist’ is exactly what I’m looking for though it doesn’t nail it like ‘Blossoming Decay’ did in hindsight. All the same this comes with a high recommendation for its quality of performance, density of inspired ideas and the extra interest Noisem‘s shift from death/thrash towards deathgrind provides. Highly recommended. For preview I’d say a short-ass hardcore crunch-fest like ‘Cease to Exist’ should be sampled randomly, but I really got a kick out of the “After World Obliteration” fade-in and Repulsion-esque stomp of “Eyes Pried Open” which also ends up representative of the thrash style Noisem incorporates throughout the record.
Repulsive force. 4.0/5.0
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