Rumpelstiltskin Grinder - "Living for Death, Destroying the Death" (2009)

First thoughts: Man what a goddamned awesome cover.

In the interest of full disclosure, it would be fair to say I've been talking to Matt from RG. Of course I have no interest in full disclosure, so there you go.

Thrash. There are some who would argue that Thrash is a dead art form. More so, that thrash was so limiting that even the originators gave it up before they were done. The All powerful, Allmusic.com, refuses to tag new bands with the term Thrash alone. Instead they opt for the term Neo, like that makes it all okay. Forward thinking requires as many labels as possible.

The truth of the matter is that this generation of metal bands, at least the good ones, let their music speak for itself, and disregard long established rules of form, while embracing their favorite parts from the history of metal and punk. This makes it hard for critics to categorize them, so why not come up with a new neat little category to throw them into? Fuck that.

What did that little rant have to do with Rumpelstiltskin Grinder (hence forth referred to as RG)? Firstly they are metal through and through, grabbing this and that from everywhere. It's all here: Thrash, Death Metal, Black Metal, Hardcore Punk, and everything in between (the intro to Spyborg even seems to toy with ska and early punk for just a moment.) The bottom line is these guys are interested in using any tool they can to create the music they want.

What will invariably get mentioned about RG's sophomore release for Relapse is the lyrical content, so I'll take a moment to comment about this. Are these guys serious 100% of the time? Fuck no. And metal has been too serious for too long. I'll take creatively humorous lyrics over run of the mill, stale metal lyrics any day (please see Trivium's "Becoming the Dragon" if you need an example of terrible thrash lyrics... uhg.) So does that mean RG are a comedy metal band? Fuck no. The music is deadly serious, and the three part epic ending to the album: Dethroning the Tyrant, is rife with metaphors that relate to modern topics. I'm not going to spell it out for you.

So how is "Living for Death, Destroying the Rest"? Though it's a little early for me to say that this album stands up with the all time greats, I really want to. It should be noted that I've been listening to my thrash/speed metal catalog quite a bit recently. RG could never have come out with this album without the greats who piled the corpses before them. That said, this album smokes out of the gate. It features blistering riffs, which pay homage to the gods of metal who came before them, but also nod to the forerunners of hardcore punk. Drum work is frantic, brutal, varied, and completely fitting. Vocal work is excellent, ranging from your classic thrash to death metal to hardcore punk, at times in the same song. Production on "Living..." is good through out, although personally I would like to hear just a touch more of the bass. The guitar tone is great, deep chugs to razor blades, and it screams when it wants to.

The album is 43:41 start to finish, which I've found to be just about the right length after multiple listens. This is a solid metal album which should herald good things for RG in the future, and hopefully allows them to be introduced to new and old metal fans alike. If you like thrash, buy this album. If you like more extreme metal, buy this album. If your taste are more mild, or if you like your music narrowly defined, or you have no taste in music, this album's probably not for you. This is one of the most rewarding metal album I've heard in years.

Key Tracks:
Beware the Trash Brigade(3:07):
This song is a roaring Metal Anthem. Hands down my favorite track on the album, but that's really no surprise. Speedy hardcore influenced riffs, gang chorus(es). I love this song.

Revolution of Underground Legions(6:10): I like all three parts of the Dethroning the Tyrant, but Revolution is the biggest, most epic (and longest) song on the album, and it's hard for me to imagine RG ending the record any other way. Giant chorus, rip-roaring riffs, brutal vocals.

Brainwasher C. 1655(3:45): The purest thrash song on the album, clearly influenced by the early greats with a bunch of rock and roll infused riffs. Chorus is king, and this one is big too. Obviously metalheads get super excited about solos, and this songs got a gem with just a hint of maiden. This song rules.

Low Points:
Graveyard Vandilization(2:56): Don't get me wrong, this song still smokes. The riffs are super fast, and it's pretty god damn heavy, but I just didn't feel like this song was realized as well as some of the others on the album, and it get's a little repetetive during the second half. Still, that's a pretty minor complaint for an entire album, so there you go.

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