In putting in the research for ‘Rocket Hammer Brain Surgery’, the debut EP from primitive deathgrinders Skullsmasher two impressive revelations lie in the details; The first is that the bands name is not actually a reference to a Decepticon headmaster from the first generation toys extended family of villains but, also that most of the Transformers wiki sites that helped me initially assume this tended to make fun of the franchise, a lot. “He eats (Autobots) because he’s depressed and he’s depressed because he eats (Autobots)” is probably more funny that I would ever intend to be in a review. Anyhow, Skullsmasher is an outlet of pure simian brutality from Brandon Corsair (Draghkar, Ghul, Nameless Grave Records) who was initially inspired by groups like Repulsion and Master for their d-beaten, raw intensity and hyper-violent covers from Impetigo and Terrorizer should cue you into the earlier mention of deathgrind. From the second 2018 demo onwards the project has featured Azath and Ghul co-conspirator Andrew Lee (Ripped to Shreds, ex-Disincarnation) along with a very fine drum machine named 鼓机.
For a fifteen minute blast of grindcore and primitive death metal you’d not be far off whipping out your old Blood, Nuclear Death, Dead, and even Drogheda tapes but when you really sit with it ‘Rocket Hammer Brain Surgery’ isn’t so chock full of such deep cuts. There is some of that pre ‘Christbait’ intensity and a lot of Terrorizer‘s hardcore mania fueling this thing all the same but you could jump a generation or two ahead towards Insect Warfare, Mumakil and Assück and get a similar point of resemblance. That isn’t to say those are direct influences for the final product but when you play primitive hardcore punk influenced death metal at ridiculous speeds it does begin to resemble a certain universal constant, to great effect.
Does Skullsmasher rule? Yes. Do I want the t-shirt, the tape, the water bottle? Yeah! Would I recommend it until I was blue in the face? Depends, I mean as exemplar as ‘Rocket Hammer Brain Surgery’ absolutely is, it is a ‘for fans of’ affair almost strictly unless you are looking for the most perfect introduction to old school grindcore severity and you can’t find a stream of ‘World Downfall’ in the meantime. I’d recommend it as a good time that focuses on a continually redeeming style of deathgrind but, not necessarily above something a bit more next-level like Axis of Despair. Highly recommended. For preview I’d say the duo of “Nasogastric Gavage” and “Aggressive Vehicular Intimidation” is my favorite moment on the spin and their cover of Repulsion‘s “Festering Boils” is a must-hear otherwise.
Gravel crunches under your boots. 3.75/5.0
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