It’s Monday and Mondays suck, so let’s grind it out with Death Toll 80k’s Step Down.
If you’re into grindcore at all, you’ve probably at least heard the name Death Toll 80k. Their vicious blaster Harsh Realities was a 2011 steamroller. I mean, that sucker leveled everything in its path reducing it to dust. It still does. But only two years after its release two splits, and a compilation album, the Finnish band just let up. Thankfully, Step Down has finally come to pass.
Six-years between full-lengths is a long time for a grindcore band. So, the question at hand of course is: was it worth the wait? Well, that’s the question at hand for some people. They didn’t turn into a fucking alt-country group and it’s still pummeling grindcore. Yeah, it was very much worth the wait. This album is savage.
“Panopticon” opens with a nice wall of feedback that screeches like the band is trying to bring you to a dead stop. Then the song gets straight to the grind. For the next three tracks Death Toll 80k never relent. The tracks are pure punishment and all three under a minute. And it’s once “Process” comes on that the record starts getting heavier. The speed doesn’t relent, but the riff is a crunch, heavy piece of grind that gets lodged in your skull.
Death Toll 80k are another case of incredible songwriters. Step Down is an album that isn’t different for girndcore, but it’s an incredibly solid one. The album fails to be boring in anyway and the band seems to know just when to break things down or speed them up. “Cause/Avoid” into “Hydra” stands out in this regard as tracks break up the blasting with some heavy as hell riffs and pace. Hell, the nineteen-second “Dimish” does the same, playing with blasts but throwing in heavy bits to throw the listener around.
I’d argue that “Binary” and “Silent Approval” peak the album, and at an optimal time. “Binary” is a pure blaster that brings unhinged intensity. It arrives at a point that actually makes the album more intense. However, “Silent Approval” starts with a…slower approach for a grind record. It stays down for just enough time that when things get going, another pure shot of adrenaline. But it still manages to twist and turn up until “Blame the Victim”, the closing burner.
If you didn’t know Death Toll 80k before this, well, you’re welcome. When it comes to modern grind bands, it’s hard to find records as intense as this. Step Down is Death Toll 80k stepping up their game. If you like Insect Warfare then there’s no reason to wait any longer. Get grinding on this and keep Death Toll 80k in your sights. They’re making some of the best grind of the last decade.