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4 out of 5 skulls
February 5, 2009 |

Harpoon Double Gnarly / Triple Suicide

Harpoon‘s interpretation of grind-core may be a bit different than your typical metalhead’s view. Sure, you’ve got your programmed drumming, your fuzzy and distorted guitars (raw like fresh road rash) and tortured screams and belches, but you’ve also got a sense of direction not usually found in the genre.

The band’s latest effort, Double Gnarley/Triple Suicide, is an excellent departure from your run-of-the-mill, drum machine backed grind. Taking a healthy dose of bruising grind-core rhythms and blasts, the trio (originally a duo) sporadically lay in Pelican-like interludes amongst the din of noise and destruction that really let you know they’re more than just blindly throwing themselves into the churning feedback.

The guitars are continually swamped in fuzz and textures as they chug along unremittingly. The drum engineering doesn’t have that telltale programmed sound — at least not on most of the album. The vocals are aggressive and usually stay within the mid-range screams area, every once in a while stretching beyond those boundaries.

Company Man
Nearly a full minute and a half of guitar noise and reverb open up the first track on the disc before some semblance of structure comes in with the drums. Everything changes at 2:22 as the band erupts in a fury of blasting drums and discordant guitars, not to mention guttural shouts. The pace is frenetic, shifting from manic blasts to higher than mid-tempo rhythms for the remainder of the song. The vocals are raw, raspy and aggressive. The first Pelican-like appearance starts around 3:50 with slick guitars and lasts until about 4:40 before things start to break down happily with swirling, noisy guitars.

Lefty
“Lefty” keeps up the pace from the opening few notes with blasting drums and chugging, nasty guitars. While the last one shared a variety of metal styles, this one is pretty much a full on ballpeen hammer to the ball sack. Lucky for us it lasts but a minute — one glorious, grinding minute.

The Midget and the Duchess
A good bit of groove resides beneath the squelches and noise of this next track. Sure the pace is up tempo and bruising, but it’s easy to get lost in this one especially during the slowdown around :45. I’m digging the punk vibe to the guitars as they start back up around 1:10 with beastial drumming and screams.

The Cacographer
Thicker, chugging riffs and spastic drumming greet you at the onset of “The Cacographer.” This one is suffocating and bludgeoning with lots of discordant guitar noise. There’s a slick lead at :38 that’s a nice surprise. This is one hell of a song.

Walter Reuther
I can only assume that the quick Web search I did for this name reveals the identity of the 25 second blast of bludgeoning grind to be that of the United Auto Workers leader from the ’70s. That’s an interesting topic for a noise/grind band to wax poetic on. Either way, this very short track is violent and aggressive… and I love it.

Buddy System
“Buddy System” has a definite thrash feel for the first few riffs before the band descends into a dark, cacophony of chaos and noise. The vocals are nearly squelched out and impossible to really understand beneath the torrent of feedback and noise — the do clean up a bit around the 40 second mark.

Sloth-Ass
Full on bruising grind blasts and driving riffs get this one off to a frenzied start before Harpoon settle into a mid-tempo groove with some memorable guitar work. There’s a nice slow down around the one minute mark as layered shouts belt out the lyrics. The change-up in tempo and style are a nice break from the avalanche of grind and noise that we have been buried beneath for the first half of the album.

Frogs, Boils, Locusts…
“Frogs, Boils, Locusts…” picks up with pace with some seriously ballistic drumming and discordant riffing. This one is balls to the wall aggressive and full of sludgy fuzz and tones. The slower overall pace to this one makes it feel a bit more raw and dirty. I’m digging it.

Throngs
There’s no build up to this one. Harpoon get it going with repeated baseball bat body blows with chugging riffs and deliberate, heavy drums. They ratchet up the pace from fast to manic around :40 with a deeper vocal delivery. A bunch of guitar noise highlights the final few moments of this bruising track.

Bad Beekeeping
Here’s another rapid fire blast of blows to the cranium. After a few memorable moments of guitars, the pace explodes with blasting rhythms, caustic riffing and aggressive vocals. There’s a slow down just before the one minute mark that settles you into a head banging groove.

You Should Be Longer
This one has a bit of an old school Napalm Death feel to the guitars initially, but it’s quickly inhaled by swirling riffs and chaotic rhythms. The cheesy sound clip at about 22 seconds in is actually quite perfect for this track. After it, the vocals get a bit deeper while the pace remains intestine-bursting fast.

The Difficulty in Listening to the Elderly
The final track on the disc starts off slowly with dark riffs and light drumming. There’s definitely a good helping of sludge thrown into the mix on this one. Massive, plodding guitars come in around :50 and are dead set on turning your bones to dust as the vocals come in with little fanfare. Wow, that was a hell of a way to end a blistering grind album.

~ ~ ~

Half expecting your standard, tinny sounding drum machine backed grind band, Harpoon‘s Double Gnarly/Triple Suicide is, for lack of a better word, refreshingly awesome. The trio combine grinding blasts with noisy guitars and interludes that show that these guys are about more than just peeling your face from your skull. Not really a thinking man’s grind band, but oh so much more, Harpoon need to be on your list of bands to keep your eye on for more destruction in the future.

Favorite Tracks:
All of them

Additional Notes:
N/A

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