I have a to-do list that I keep on my phone – y’know, because I’m, like, organized and stuff – and on it, in addition to whatever stupid tasks I must complete in order to survive and / or justify being called an adult, I list the albums that I’m slated to review so that I don’t forget to get these write-ups submitted in a timely fashion. I looked at my phone on the day I wrote this, and my to-do list read as such:
• Run vacuum upstairs
• Clean kitchen
• Sew new patch on vest
• Die Choking
• Mow back yard
So it looks like I may not get around to mowing the yard, which is fine… And while I’m at it, I went ahead and moved cleaning the kitchen down a few notches, too, because why bother, really?
My perpetually ridiculous life aside, this Philadelphia three-piece impressed me with their first two EPs, conveniently titled I and II. III is Die Choking’s first full-length, and it follows its leaders in more ways than just numerically. This one’s eleven songs in approximately twenty minutes, and so yes, it’s grindcore, and yes, it’s wonderfully damned furious.
Like most (well, pretty much all) grindcore, the basis of Die Choking’s barrage is early Napalm Death, but also like most grindcore, there’s more to this obliteration than just Enslavement. Elements of death metal, hardcore, and even some near-blackened bits find their way into the mix – admittedly, the formula isn’t particularly new, though the results are quite well done – and the whole ends up somewhere between the old school crusty bashing and the stout hardcore bruising of a Nails.
Ex-Total Fucking Destruction guitarist Paul Herzog’s vocals intentionally avoid the usual high-low grindcore stylings, sticking mostly to a death growl designed to hark back to early death metal giants like Schuldiner or Van Drunen. To III’s credit, and to the band’s, any lack of variety in the vocal attack is compensated for by the riffs, which are both blistering and memorable, although in true grind fashion they’re typically displayed only briefly, repeated a few times and gone forever. Still, there’s gold in the descending punkish parts of “Shake My Hand, Bow Down & Die,” or the vaguely icy melodies in the final seconds of “Dwell,” or the chopped dissonance of “Bastard Of Hyperion,” or the cyclical intro of “Dead Figurehead.”
Where III finds its most success is in its middle, in the stretch between those killer chords of “Hyperion” and the chanted cadence of “Figurehead.” Special attention should be placed upon the Swans-y trudge of “Leave It To Them,” which is the centerpiece of the album, both literally and musically, alternating between blast beats and a heavier-than-hell crawl that offers a counterattack to Die Choking’s mostly unrelenting velocity.
Die Choking has improved with each successive release, and III does an excellent job of marrying grindcore’s inherent intensity to some first-rate riffs to create an album as enjoyable as it is explosive. Right now, the album is available digitally or in a limited run of 500 vinyl copies, with a CD to come in the winter via Poland’s Selfmadegod. However you get it, get it, because it’s a damn fine twenty-minute headbreaker.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I guess I’ve got to mow the back yard…