Formed to fill the void tragically vacated by Nasum after Mieszko Talarczyk’s death in 2004, Unrest took their time getting their debut out to the world. Grindcore was recorded in 2011, but then shelved – apparently, the band felt it wasn’t ready, wasn’t good enough, for whatever reason. Returning to it last year, Unrest finally finished their tribute, ten years after Mieszko’s passing. They’ve distilled their grief, everyone’s loss, and our collective reverence into one twenty-six minute record, and even further, into one word: Grindcore.
In the simplest interpretation, that word says the obvious: Unrest plays grindcore. (Of course, that’s doubly clear, given the influence they’re aping.) As with Nasum, the lineage traces back to Napalm Death, Repulsion, Terrorizer, and the classics; vintage grindcore with the expected tinges of death metal and crust. And as with Nasum, it’s often exhilarating and explosive… but I must admit that I don’t find it always so, and I’m not as absolutely enthralled with it as others seem to be.
Grindcore opens strong with the vicious “We Are Calling You Out,” forty-four seconds of flat-out pounding – add that to the following anti-poverty-punk screed “You Take” and the mission is clear, established early. Gnarly punked-up riffs, a distorted and gravelly bass tone, dueling high and low vocals – it’s all here, everything that makes grindcore grind. The first half of the disc is stellar, but after the initial sprint, in the backstretch, it tapers off, not so much in intensity, but just in overall quality. There are moments of greatness that follow – the trudging and stuttering “Faith Is A Hearse” has some great down-tempo riffs, and the snarling “Nothing (That’s All You Have To Give)” is a solid bass-driven tune – but in that back half, Unrest really begins to feel like the throwback act it is; two-minute songs, on the longer side by grind standards, feel even longer.
Like its title, Grindcore is equally to the point and by the numbers; it’s furious in its best moments, and elsewhere it feels more like fury by formula. It’s a tribute written by a band that isn’t really a band in honor of a band that is a band no more, and it sometimes comes across like that, for all the good and bad that brings. It’s always reverential, always competently executed, always enjoyable in the moment, but only half of it really transcends its origin into something that doesn’t just “sound like Nasum.” I’ve seen it praised highly elsewhere, and not that I worry too much about everyone else’s opinion (everybody’s got one, I hear), but I just don’t find it to be the classic-sounding future classic that others seem to. Compare it to the slicing and dicing brought by The Kill in January, or to Napalm Death’s recent apex predator of a release, or to the forthcoming Fulgora EP, and in all instances, it’s outgunned.
Still, all in all, Grindcore is a solid record, no question. The simple title tells the truth: Grindcore, like grindcore, has a few absolutely great parts, quite a few very respectable parts, and a certain amount of acceptable violent noise.