Album Review: ESCUELA GRIND Indoctrination
Escuela Grind translates to ‘Grind School’ and this (sorta) upstate New York quartet has done just about everything in its power on their debut full-length to take the listener to that particular institution of learning. Indoctrination offers up a raw and stripped-to-bone display of dictionary definition grind, distilling the genre’s rudiments and building blocks into a no-frills, straight ahead example. There are, however, two curious and exciting about this album. One, that it can act as a document for beginners as to the typicalities of a grind album in everything from sound and instrumentation to samples and noise interludes. Secondly, how it also exists in such a way that jaded veterans who wouldn’t think of ever purchasing an album without grainy black-and-white photography/artwork on its cover should discover something of value here. Folks, feel free to get as excited about Escuela Grind as when Wormrot and Unrest emerged with stunning, engaging and powerful, but familiar, results.
Featuring current and ex-members of Kill the Client, Creator Destroyer, Hearse, Your Brain on Drugs, Melora and a solid handful of others, the Escuela Grind-ers undoubtedly know their business and take definite chunks of inspiration, influence, and reference from early Napalm Death, Terrorizer, Insect Warfare, Phobia, Nasum, Rotten Sound and so on and so forth. There’s hardly time to catch your breath let alone play "Spot ‘Where Have I Heard that Riff Before?’" given that, outside of the 10+ minute noise piece/outro, the majority of the tracks here barely crack a minute or stick to the sub-60 second status. Indoctrination is an album you’ve heard in various forms and fashions before, but because it roars by so vigorously and authentically, there’s hardly time to think about it.
The ratcheting guitar tone, blower bass, and steam piston-ing battery should absolutely not be dismissed because there’s reusing and recycling going on: the number of times and number of places you’ve heard the riff that opens the album in “Inspirational Significance” is incalculable; the punch of “Private Vice Public Benefit” has been championed by Pig Destroyer countless time over the years and more so by their acolytes; the giddy-up pedaling of “A Ladder of Seven Rounds” is a familiar mainstay; and the punctuated vocal style of Katerina Economou has previously found a long-time comfortable home in Napalm Death, Spazz and Capitalist Casualties. Heck, even the noise screech that opens/closes tracks like “Zalongo,” “These Leeches” and “Hyper-Victim” reminds of The Locust.
What the listener takes home from Indoctrination will be shifted by the number of grind albums in that person’s collection and playlist. If you can’t get enough of the stuff, giving Escuela Grind a spin will allow you to be able to tell your friends that you’re not an old fogey with tunnel vision tastes who only listens to the classics. If for some unimaginable reason Indoctrination was your cold turkey exposure to grindcore—though, given the number of books and documentaries on the topic, it’s amazing to think someone hadn’t first stumbled across World Downfall, Scum, Inhale/Exhale or any of the other 14 quintillion albums otherwise available—then, there’s little better introduction to the basics.
Come to think about it, however, when you take into consideration the band’s moniker and album title, maybe this band is an undertaking designed to act as both a gateway/introduction to the basics of genre: nothing more, nothing less, except a lot of noise being made and fun being had in the process. Whatever the case, there are a lot worse ways to blast away a spare 15 minutes or so than this.