Released: 2016, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Since issuing their self-titled second album in 2009, Brooklyn-by-way-of-D.C. grind trio Magrudergrind have had as many TV show appearances – a cameo on HBO's Veep in 2012 – as they do subsequent releases of their own – the 2010 EP Crusher. But with the oddly titled II, the band now have finally delivered their elusive third album – and it proves to be more than worth the wait, especially if you value quality over quantity.
II is a 15-song rampage of an album. Equal parts grindcore, hardcore and thrash, it hurtles along with reckless abandon for all of about 24 minutes. Not a second is wasted here on intros, outros, effects, interludes or any of the usual distractions. It's non-stop action as the band plug in and start tearing it up with the 46-second opener “Imperium In Imperio” and don't let up until they bring things to a raucous end with “Pharmacide” and its beat-down closing hooks.
Indeed, there is no shortage of gut-punchy riffs here from guitarist R.J. Ober, be they on the microbursty likes of “War for Resources,” the swaggering “Hara-Kiri” or the comparatively expansive “Black Banner” and “Unit 731” - which is not a cover of the Slayer tune, in case you were wondering – the only tracks here that crack the two-minute mark. And with the two-headed monster of Converge's Kurt Ballou and Pig Destroyer's Scott Hull engineering and mastering the album, there is plenty of grit and bite in the album’s voluminous sound to make the songs stick.
The obvious political bent of Avi Kulawy's barbed lyrics on “The Opportunist,” “Incarceration State” or “Regressive Agenda” do tend to get lost in the flurry of riffs, drums and his own breathless caterwauling, which is a shame. But that's often the price one pays in grindcore. And that shouldn't take away from the fact that II is an imposing, impressive return from one of the most fearsome bands in the grind game.