Formless Master – First Strike

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Formless Master – First Strike
Reviewed: November, 2019
Released: 2019, HGDP Productions
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz

Ever wish your grindcore had more of a karate theme to it? Are you ever in luck, my friends…

East meets West in a dojo of destruction, as members of Gridlink, Deterioration and Invidiosus combine their powers with Formless Master. Their debut EP FIRST STRIKE is a blitz of quality grind that’ll have you itching for a proper full length. Following Takafumi Matsubara’s temporary retirement at the hands of a paralysis inducing debilitation, Formless Master is the outcome of lots of rehabilitation and a chance communication of encouragement from Invidiosus vocalist Matthias Joyce. Keeping up with a post recovery solo album and an EP with Retortion Terror, Formless Master is the kind of full throttled grindcore that sounds like it’s about to have a seizure at any moment, but never loses its cool.

The snippets of martial arts flicks peppered throughout the EP provides some novelty value to FIRST STRIKE, but beastly tunes like “Fatal Impasse” and “Powerful Front Kick” quickly assert themselves as anything but shtick. It’s a whirlwind flurry of blast beats and raging noise that clearly indicate that Matsubara has some stuff he’s working through, but it’s all fantastic stuff that ends far too soon.

I really, really, really want a full length from Formless Master. I’m going to avoid the obvious and not say that FIRST STRIKE earns itself a black metal in grindcore, but I will say that it’s a hell of an introduction. I’m sating my desire for more by revisiting Matsubara’s excellent solo album STRANGE, BEAUTIFUL, AND FAST – of which it’s all of those things, but would highly encourage fans of grind (or just the grind curious) to check out both that album and Formless Master. FIRST STRIKE is the aural equivalent of Daniel LaRusso crane kicking Johnny Lawrence for 10 solid minutes, so summon your inner drunken master and prepare to get your ass kicked.


Track List:
1. First Strike
2. Fatal Impasse
3. Mata Leon
4. Powerful Front Kick
5. Cut Down at Sunset
6. Learn the Art of Dying
7. Formless Master


Takafumi Matsubara – Guitars/Bass
Crawlin Lewis – Drums
Jim Kahmann – Vocals (1,2,3,6)
Matthias Joyce – Vocals (4,5)