Still a bad machine

dB Rating: 8/10

Release Date: February 12, 2016
Label: Relapse Records

Six years ago, there was an unreal amount of hype around Magrudergrind. Their Willowtip debut was handed to me from the merch table at Maryland Deathfest with strong encouragement to play it as soon as I could. When I got home and listened to the album, it surpassed expectations and then some right from the opener, “The Protocols of Anti-Sound,” which sampled the Japanese cult film Tetsuo. It was a Beastie Boys take on extreme metal, with countless blast beats; the grindcore version of Paul’s Boutique; the young dudes upending the apple cart. Samples, humor and sarcasm met rage, and the result was something fresh and badly needed. Magrudergrind appeared to be the next big thing, or at least one of them. But all that followed was a decent—by no means spectacular—EP financed by Scion, and relative silence.

We finally have the second full album from Magrudergrind, now relocated to New York City. If their first album was their version of Paul’s Boutique, then this is their take on Enemy of the Music Business. During the half-decade plus, the band has seemingly become more jaded. The frivolity and hip-hop abandon of their first album is gone. Instead, Magrudergrind have adopted the Nails/Phobia approach: level everything around you and move on. The back-to-back “Hara-Kiri” and “Stale Affairs” in particular are invective on the level of Barney returning to Napalm spitting fumes on “Taste the Poison.”

II is far more streamlined and businesslike than I expected. And while I miss the part of Magrudergrind that tackled extreme music with an abundance of whimsy to match warp speed, I don’t begrudge the cynicism that comes with age. It’s a dark and unforgiving world, and this music fits with the times.

—Justin M. Norton
Review originally printed in the March 2016 issue.