Released: 2010, Candlelight Records
Ask the average, somewhat-informed metallion which one of extreme music's several divergent sub-genres should comparatively be amongst the easiest to crack and I’d be willing to bet that the answer will invariably come back as grindcore. Not for its anarchist disciples, the eye-watering technicality of death metal nor the sinister atmospherics of its grimmer sibling. Instead the essence of the grindcore mantra has remained largely unchanged since those halcyon days when SCUM ruled its roost – warp-speed aggression delivered through a barrage of simplistic hardcore-tinged riffing and, more often than not, filtered through a bong haze.
And yet so few – especially lately - manage to get it spot on. My theory is that to truly conquer the grindcore conundrum, you need to possess the musical equivalent of George Carling's sledgehammer wit. Take Pig Destroyer for example: short, sharp surges of aural violence commonly punctuated by one constant: hooks and lots of them. Circle of Dead Children's latest platter may have been produced by Scott Hull (who has done a stellar job by the way), but it is completely devoid of this crucial element, and thus goes by in a faceless whir. They take in man-sized chunks of Cephalic Carnage's masterful LUCID INTERVAL on opener "Avatar of Innocence", but fail to capture a single grain of its perverted elegance. Their attempts at “broo-tal” are similarly dull, and between Joe Horvath's pig-squeals and a rhythm section who believe that the way to serve respite from the blasting is to employ breakdowns that all sound the same, the temptation to put a stop to the record before it's run its course grows almost uncontrollable once you hit the middle stretch.
The irony is that instead of making a case for a dearth of talent in the genre, PSALMS OF THE GREAT DESTROYER reminds us to appreciate the style's luminaries – the Rotten Sounds, Agoraphobic Nosebleeds, Pig Destroyers, Insect Warfare’s et al. Circle of Dead Children are a band with all the apparent technical skill to be a part of that illustrious gang, but none of the songwriting chops to qualify as anything other than utterly banal.