Saturday, May 15, 2010

Circle of Dead Children - The Genocide Machine

Circle of Dead Children - The Genocide Machine
2001, Deathvomit/Necropolis Records

On the surface, at least to me, it doesn't really matter how sincere Circle of Dead Children are about their political convictions. Their lyrics? Well, they are angry, as one would expect, bemoaning the state of the world...but perhaps too much is being made of them. It's difficult for me to judge, I've never met this band, so I can't say what is truth and what is just image. Grindcore bands come and go, some stay political, righteous in their anger, such as Agathocles, and then others...well, they bend their knee to commercialism sooner or later. It's a natural consequence of being involved in a do-or-die undertaking like the mu$ic indu$try. For some it's just a matter of stroking the right pretensions (I am thinking of Napalm Death here), always bleeding one's heart, aligning along the left, striving to stay relevant - or at least have one's hat in the pseudo-political ring. For a musical movement like grindcore, that was begun in boredom, anomie, anger, rebellion, and the effort to 'enlighten' the masses (how messianic!), so many groups have lost the original message, or confused the forms with their content. Once again, Napalm Death are the archetype for this, completely missing the point in beginning a musical revolution instead of a political one, and having their surfaces taken for profundity.

So, at some point or another, I gave up on the extra-musical efforts of these bands - how did they matter? Which minds did they convince? What did they really change? And in the fifteen-something years of grindcore's existence, there hasn't really been much of a sea change musically - it's still the same old short sharp shock, burst and fire, grenade detonations, the appeals to holier-than-thou political correctness or, failing that, a complete turning away from politics altogether. At this point, with black metal's obvious decay, we have a whole new strain of grind bands cropping up again, coming out of the woodwork - taking the storm and stress of black's rhythmic propulsion, merging it with the lowest instincts of gore/death metal's abyssic atonal drive, and then spreading over it a veneer of dissonant technicality derived from post-hardcore groups like Coalesce. Circle of Dead Children are not alone in this propogating this style...they just do it better than most.

This is a very pleasurable record, as it just hits all the right spots with me, and it comes at a good time - here as I sit, mourning the death of black metal and its rampant commercialism, watching the rising tide of death bands appearing again, seeing groups which had been death metal, and then turned to black metal, start 'allowing the influences of death' to creep back into their music, so: watching the pendulum shift back and forth, the tides run in and out. You get the picture. Nothing new under the sun. With all of this boredom, depression, anger at unoriginality in musicians, disgust with the current state of the 'scene', etc. it just gets to the point where one wants to give up and start listening to jazz. Why not? I'm old enough to where I could get away with it by calling my 'betrayal' of metal a sort of 'maturation process'. People would wink, nod their heads, look at me as if they knew me. You know the drill, whatever. However...then, there are records like this...

Not to say that this is completely original. It's not. Circle of Dead Children (you have to love that name) play in a 'style', if I can call it that, that mixes together, as I said above, influences and pieces, nuts and bolts, pieces and completed parts, of many different musical movements. The bio that I received with this disc stressed as much. Now when a record label usually calls a band 'diverse' and says that they have a 'wide range', it usually justs means that they're unfocused. CODC do not have a wide range - in fact they are very limited as to the musical avenues they can travel. This is grindcore, after all, if you wanted to label it. The wonder of it - why I'm still listening to this - is the fact that it doesn't seem to matter to me. CODC write good songs, and whether or not they are sincere in their anger, wrathfully committed to certain objectives, or just given to venting their despair, it doesn't really effect the outcome of listening to this. Musically, 'The Genocide Machine' works on a visceral level, it goes straight to the intestines.

For the most part, this is powerfully bludgeoning deathcore, all percussive lashings and pummelings, multiple stabwounds, the musical equivalent, really, of modern life - a giant hammer that just crushes you again and again, and if you're that coffin nail sticking up, all the more savagely. A holocaust in your head, to quote another grind band...the guitars are used excellently, swelling and collapsing, exploding outward into random bursts of white noise, coalescing (sorry) once again into ethereal weaponry, playing over your body, extracting vital essences, smoke and spirit...suffocating one moment, as a chlorine gas, a modern primitive miasma - the summoned ghost of the new age, and then pulling themselves inward, appearing as an avatar of modern death. The drumming is precise, professional, and all over the place, urging the other instruments relentlessly forward, and then there are the vocals...like the earth shifting, the rise of plagues, concrete skyscrapers shifting in the torrential rain and then, finally, collapsing...

Listening to CODC is like...being repeatedly run over by demolition equipment, and then looking up into the face of the operators of the machinery and seeing, in the darkness, that they are somehow not even human anymore...they have become the bestial slaves of the death they worship...

This album is highly recommended.