FEED THEM DEATH – Panopticism-Belong/Be Lost (2020)REVIEW

Surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action.” — Though Michel Foucault was specifically referring to side-effects with concern for the mental health of criminals in (then) state or government run prisons circa 1975 the application of this idea becomes frighteningly intense with consideration for today’s Orwellian age of discordance. He’d rescind some of his thoughts in later books and revisions, judging them “overzealous” in his insistence that an extended loss of privacy not only debilitates a person within the prison system but that it has potential to warp entire communities and disable their organization. The evidence has mounted tenfold in front of folks too distorted by their own prison of unreal, yet still quite lucid, online existence that he was certainly not exaggerating. The blindness en masse is a constant point of absurdity for anyone with eyes beyond their phone. Exiting from prison and deleting yourself from an online community (or a social media website) triggers nigh the same effect upon the individual, ego-death and anxietous rupture, a void that is oft filled in erratic ways as the individual searches for boundaries and order in a “freed” state — Extreme as that might seem to someone wrapped up in the addictive world of thumbs up, likes, hearts, and bubble-boy consensus the exodus of the emphasis on “the other” and entrance into ones own individual sense of self will bear immediate benefits to mental health… That is only if you can live with the silencing of senseless feedback and survive off of whatever inner strength hasn’t been tortured out of your mind. Why the rant? Well, I cannot stand that there are only savagely inhumane corporations to turn to in times of crisis, life is cheap and resistance is futile under their command. I cannot stand that nothing resembling an independent-minded community exists in sight, they’d all have to gather on Facebook to organize, anyhow. So many people of all ages around me panic based on their social media news feeds, and I mourn for the spirits of younger folks that are being crushed to death by the identity crises that digital life forces upon them… Ah, another rant? Sure, and not only because London by way of Genova, Italy solo avant-garde deathgrind artist Void‘s Feed Them Death has me reading Foucault, mostly Discipline and Punish (1975) so far, but because the core theme and message of his second album ‘Panopticism: Belong/Be Lost’ has me jumping out of my skin, wanting to be even more disconnected from control and surveillance than ever before.

Social Exclusion is Spiritual Reintegration” — A point I’ve been touting (in likely more words…) as long as I can remember, and not for the sake of antisocial reactive thought but due to long-standing sheer disgust at the sensation of someone else speaking for me, ruling over me, or ever forcing my hand (or my thoughts) in any direction other than my own choosing. Yet another rant, man? Alright, well back in early 2019 I’d reviewed Feed Them Death‘s first album ‘No Solution/Dissolution‘ (2018) and though I dug through the lyrics and enjoyed Void‘s style of ‘new but old’ school deathgrind ways, I’d not gotten the full picture of that record until I’d poured a lot more time into this second album during the first half of 2020. The music on that first album wasn’t difficult to grasp, essentially (somewhat) technical death metal from a grind-punk hand yet the lyrics were getting at something that was more than the typical hardcore punk politico found in a lot of death metal and grindcore since the mid-80’s. ‘Panopticism: Belong/Be Lost’ is more direct in theme and better illustrated as a piece intended to echo the greater narrative of Feed Them Death‘s discography — The frustration with societal structures warping to an intense degree due to the co-opting of governments by way of greedy death-mercantile corporations is entirely the right message, the right thing to be outraged about in 2020 and exactly what the mental prison of social media discourages. Foucault more clearly applies the core diagnosis of misappropriated outrage and dulled senses on Madness and Civilization (1965) — “People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don’t know is what what they do does.” Why feed a machine that gives absolutely nothing but death back?

Even if you were already very familiar with ‘No Solution/Dissolution’ picking up ‘Panopticism: Belong/Be Lost’ has great potential to feel like a new haunt, or a much more bold n’ swinging wave of freshened sounds. When “Zoneless Confinement” kicks things off things go haywire in the best way possible: Brutal grooves and discordant sparking riffs share space with ominous synth, staggering the sheer rush of the song with staccato rhythms that punctuate the body-high experienced with blunt force shocks. “Scar?” doesn’t give a chance to click away or set the record down as it bursts right into a spiraling, burrowing central riff that is accompanied by a whizzing theremin of all things; It works quite well, bringing a surrealistic note without losing control of the guitar-driven aspect of Feed Them Death‘s sound. I’d certainly noted some of the bizarre Anata-esque dissonant riffs and buzzing Rotten Sound pulses on the first album but this record steps outside of the box further with its oddly digital, shuddering guitar sound and what I’ve found to be pretty convincing and detailed drum machine patterns. The whole record has a do-it-yourself feeling to it, which is not only endearing for its individual make and sound but appropriate for the ethos guiding the project in the first place. Feed Them Death provide a stunning first impression by coming with great force to start the album but signs of new paths begin to ping with “For Our Insolent Dead”, a mid-paced death metal song with some unique guitar breaks and a certain droning feel that provides light foreshadowing for the more experimental and noisome pieces on the full listen.

“Prescience / Evokism III” is where the momentum of the first half of the album drops off steeply, shooting around a riff-for-effect with some spoken word, samples, and static cling. The next two songs make up for this break in the action by providing the peak of brutality on the record, hammering out two heavy deathgrind songs that anchor the second half with their blasts. “Lotusbluthen III” yet stands out far more for its memorable composition and bigger ‘heavy metal’ riff to start, this brings some vital substance to this part of the album and bookends my main interest in the tracklist. The placement of “Evokism II” and its style recalls the weirder side of Nailbomb and I’m not entirely sure I ‘get’ how it fits right before the ~2 minute grinder that closes things out. Even if I don’t think every riff or experiment works and the album art does nothing for me, I cannot say I’ve heard or seen anything like what Void is doing with Feed Them Death. Is that for lack of a modern grind palate on my end, or is it a testament to the serious amount of work put into ‘Panopticism: Belong/Be Lost’? As with all things, it all applies from whatever angle you’re standing. The full listen is challenging but never overtly technical, avant-garde but never forced mush, energetic but never stupidly brutal, and always ringing with dissent. The fact that it took me three months to get around to the review might not seem like an endorsement but I’d been due to wanting to read a book (or two) and try to meet the record on its intended intellectual plane without just giving lip service to the bigger picture expressed. It was worth the enrichment and I’ve certainly not grown tired of the riffs and energy of the album, plus I’m a sucker for A5 cases as they make a CD purchase a bit more special while allowing for more artwork real estate. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
ARTIST:Feed Them Death
TITLE:Panopticism: Belong/Be Lost
LABEL(S):I, Voidhanger
RELEASE DATE:April 17th, 2020
BUY/LISTEN/STREAM:Bandcamp [Digital]
GENRES:Avant-Garde Deathgrind

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