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Album Review: MAMMOTH GRINDER Underworlds

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It's been about four years since we were given Mammoth Grinder's Extinction of Humanity. And four years between albums is a long, long time for a band. Unless that band is Tool. Then it's mere lifetimes between albums. Regardless, we have had the occasional split with Hatred Surge here and a few EPs back in 2012, so these little hors d'œuvre to the main course have managed to at least keep the appetite whetted. The wait hasn't been easy but, Mammoth Grinder are finally ready to take us into the Underworlds with their long awaited follow up.

Mammoth Grinder have been through a few sound changes. Not a band to be concerned with sticking in the confines of a genre too closely, Mammoth Grinder first made waves back in 2008 with their first full length Rage and Ruin. It was an incredible hardcore/punk record with plenty of metallic influence and songs longer than the typical minute blasts. Hell, it even had some progressive elements to it. However, only a year later the band would surprise everyone with more of a death metal album. And damn were they good at that too. Extinction of Humanity managed to culminate a fair fixation of old school death metal like Autopsy while still keeping a heavy fix of hardcore/punk influence. Its riffs were heavier than hell and its vocal attack suited the band perfectly. Every ounce of Extinction of Humanity was a vicious and unforgiving which contributed to an overall excellent record.

Underworlds sees the band treading new water. At first it may seem like this is Extinction of Humanity played at 45 rpm. The record is actually a lot deeper than any first, second, or third listen will a lot. The first track “Underworlds” is an almost unlikely introduction to any album. This should be taken as a cue. While a lot of bands either slowly fade into an album with some dialogue sample, or explode from the set, Underworlds feels like it's picking you up from where the band left off and taking you on a free fall. As the guitar wails and solos the song feels like it's the bridge between albums. A quick trip on the River of Styx. It's an odd thing to adjust to but Mammoth Grinder make it work in such a strange way.

Once the descent is made, we plummet right into “Wraparound Eyes.” Mammoth Grinder have kicked up the speed on this album significantly in comparison to Extinction of Humanity. This is a song that has a lot of groove to it along with heavy, killer breakdowns that feel like the ceiling is caving in. “Revenge” has a similar vibe to it. The band is still charging forth with choppy riffs. Chris Ulsh's vocals sound like they were recorded in a pit. The reverb and echo lends tremendously to Mammoth Grinder's sound.

“Paragon Pusher” follows shortly after, with a much more thrashy vibe and it's about by this time that you may be wondering if the boys haven't been listening to a whole lot of Tragedy while writing this album. And while Rage and Ruin had a lot of this influence too, Underworlds truly sounds like something Tragedy could have written if they were only a little heavier. And more into death metal. “Paragon Pusher” has a great thrash influence in it but the band really starts showing its crustier influence here, and stronger than it has ever been before on previous records. I swear at times I was hearing chunks of “Eye of Madness” off of Nerve Damage during this song. And it was glorious.

“Barricades” is the longest track Underworlds has to offer. It's got a downtempo beat and another full frontal vocal attack by Ulsh. It almost treads on the grounds of sludge with its slower sections but doesn't feel like it loses steam. The song is brimming with echoing sections and excellent guitar work that makes it more of a moody song. The one that you start to hear in your head when you're lost in a dark cavern and you know something is slowly creeping up you.

“Cogs in the Machine” is the best track on the album. While everything has been damn good up to this point, this is where the album loses its shit. It's another song that marries the colossal energy of Tragedy and Autopsy. The riffing in this song is stellar and bolts forward with a knives in both hands. And it only gets better as it goes on. Once you're half way through the song the piece cranks up its corrosive nature and fires on forth until we end up in “Roperide” and “Breeding.” This is a slower song in comparison but nonetheless a song with some excellent guitar licks. “Breeding” is also similar in fashion. A slower tempo for most of the song but it really picks up the steam later into the song building more and more tension until it starts to feel like it's boiling over.

“Born in a Bag” and “Moral Crux” close off the album. “Born in a Bag” is wholeheartedly old school death metal with a little slab of thrash thrown in. The piece sounds like it was birthed straight out of the 80s as it grinds through three minutes of unrelenting rage. It is one of the best headbanger songs on the album with an excellent guitar solo. “Moral Crux” is the final nail on Underworlds. The song starts off slow and sludgy, pushing itself forth as though its crawling through muck and slime. I would say the song acts as a cool down, but with lyrics like these it only adds to build a slow burning rage. It is an excellent send off for the record that leaves the heart still slowly beating an the teeth grinding.

Four years is a long time to wait for a new album so the question of course is: was it worth the wait? When a band can release an album this good, yeah it is. Mammoth Grinder have continued to hone their sound and have, overall, released their best record yet. Certainly their crustiest. There really shouldn't be any question as to whether or not you pick up this album. If you dig crust punk and old school Swedish death metal recorded in a dank cave then Underworlds is right up your alley. It isn't reinventing any genres but when you're at the top of your game, you don't need to.


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