Reviewed: July, 2018
Released: 2018, Rise Above Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
I had to open up the ledger and double check my records when I saw this promo hit my inbox. Was this the same Axegrinder that released RISE OF THE SERPENT MEN, back in 1989 and then almost immediately split up? An album that I only discovered because it was unceremoniously tacked onto a Prophecy of Doom cassette as a “bonus album”? Why yes…yes it is.
Alongside the likes of Prophecy of Doom, Amebix, Electro Hippies, Sacrilege (UK) and a slate of other fellow UK compatriots, Axegrinder peddled a hybrid blend of politically charged crust punk, grindcore, and thrash that raised two fingers straight in the face of genre definitions and existed primarily to upend the system through volume and distortion. The band originally split back in ’91 because of changing musical climates, but old habits and social consciousness die hard. Testing the waters with a pair of singles last year, Axegrinder has fully returned with SATORI, a sophomore album almost 30 years in the making.
Stewarded by original members Trev and Steve, SATORI translates the brash, youthful anarchy of their past into a voice better suited for a pair of bitter, middle-aged men that are still trying to hold the system accountable for their misdeeds. An intentionally slower and more punctuated album, SATORI leans heavy into crusty, doom laden grit with flirtations of electronic noise that evokes memories of early Killing Joke. For the most part it’s a welcome evolution from the material on RISE; tracks like “Halo (Snakes for the Breeding)”, “Satori”, and “Under the Sun” stand out across the 9 new tunes and even go so far as to dabble with cleaner melody lines. Other spots like “The Hurting” and “The Unthinkable” struggle to find their footing and teeter into monotonous terrain, but front to back SATORI ends up an accomplished record.
Axegrinder existed to satisfy only themselves in 1989 and do so again in 2018. But it was unsung heroes like Axegrinder (and so many others) that helped propel the UK grindcore scene into near legendary status and helped paved the way for a whole new school of socially conscious metal to grow. Know your history and check out SATORI when it releases mid-July, and check out RISE OF THE SERPENT MEN through any number of streaming outlets in the meantime. Glad to have you back, lads.