By Andy O'Connor (TX)
Grindcore, more so than the varieties of music/"music" we cover, is best enjoyed through short bursts. There's so much flying at the listener at once -- over-distorted speed-picked guitars, drums that make the metronome go "fuck this," and indecipherable ramblings of madmen (or laymen masquerading as madmen) -- that too much of a good thing is, well, too much. That's why Gridlink can get away with calling a 12-minute record a full-length, and how Dutch sax-and-drum duo Dead Neanderthals' releases, which usually skirt around the 10-minute line, could never be considered overstuffed. Jazzhammer/Stormannsgalskap, the latest effort from Dead Neanderthals, is the longest yet, clocking in at just over 19 minutes. Normally known for their blast-and-blow style, they change up the assault here, spreading out the brutality. Does it work? Brilliantly.
Are you ready for a deeper penetration?
You've likely heard the George Orwell quote "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever." A lamentation of loss of personal freedoms, it's also an apt summation of how drummer Rene approaches his kit on the record's first cut, "Jazzhammer." Stamping on the face of music for nine minutes and 19 seconds, his constant barrage makes "Jazzhammer" live up to its name. They are the hammer, you are the nail, the peon. Saxophonist Otto provides a steady baritone drone for the course of the track. Towards the end of the song, he throws in a few cranky solos, which then segue into a harsh synthesizer fade-out. With all those elements melding, "Jazzhammer" is almost like a HNW (Harsh Noise Wall, which sounds like exactly what you'd think it'd sound like) piece with more propulsion. The density makes it appear monolithic, but there's a lot of movement going on, some of which should be your head thrashing.
Otto becomes the center on "Stormannsgalskap," treating us to the skronk we've come to fear from Dead Neanderthals. He doesn't immediately go for the throat, letting his baritone saxophone build with dread before going all out. When Otto solos, though, it's as though Kaoru Abe never died. His horn screams all over the place, unleashing a Pollockian torrent of squeals and wails. Rene does not stir up the endless blockade he did on "Jazzhammer," but his stable footwork contrasts well with Otto's recklessness. Oddly enough, "Stormannsgalskap" displays a small offering of mercy around 6:18, slowing down and letting you catch a much-needed breath. That air won't be enough, cause soon after Otto and Rene resume to pummel.
Think you've recovered from that?
With the Dead Neanderthals' profile rising on the strength of a release like this, you may never.