Way back in 2014, this oddly-named group of grinders caught my attention on the strength of their EP A Presentation Of Gruesome Poetics, their third EP overall and their first for Relapse. That one was a solid rager, six songs in twice as many minutes, the whole of it crusty and vicious in all the right ways. Now nearly three years later, The Drip returns, finally gracing us with their first full-length, and though the same basic approach applies, The Haunting Fear Of Inevitability is a refining of their attack, a further step forward, and a damn fun blast-filled slice of HM2-laden grind.
The Haunting Fear expands upon Gruesome Poetics’ lead by broadening the band’s scope slightly but noticeably. (The band itself was also broadened between the two, with the addition of second guitarist Blake Wolf.) Whereas the earlier EP was a more straightforward take on crusty death / grind, Haunting Fear sees a widened array of influences creeping in. Though The Drip’s attack retains that same undeniable Nasum-y / Rotten Sound-y grind as its core, there’s a bit more hues on the palate here: “Painted Ram” mashes up its death with hints of blackness; the jagged swagger of “Anathema” points toward the days when metalcore wasn’t a terrible thing; the gnarled, dissonant harmonies of “Covered In Red” lean towards modern death metal’s fixation with atmosphere in its brutality. The album’s longest at just over three minutes, “Wretches” avoids blasting entirely in favor of a doom-ish crush. Hell, there’s even a short but sweet (and somewhat melodic) guitar solo in “Bone Chapel.” All of that fits snugly against the band’s crusty exterior, and it’s in that variety of ideas – more accurately, in the juxtaposition between them – that The Haunting Fear places itself firmly a step forward from its predecessor.
Produced by Joel Grind of Toxic Holocaust and mastered by crust-punk go-to-guy Brad Boatright of From Ashes Rise, The Haunting Fear sounds stout and full, the Swedeath buzzsaw tone dialed back a notch to give the guitars an extra sharpness. Vocalist Brandon Caldwell switches between a throaty growl and a higher scream, an attack that’s standard for the style but no less effective for its popularity. Still, most of Haunting Fear’s success comes down to two factors: first, Shane Brown’s drumming, which is expectedly reliant upon blasts, but also shows some fun chaotic-but-not-uncontrolled twists in the drive of “Covered In Red” and the stomp of “Wretches”; and also the riffs, a factor that tends to get tragically (and often fatally) overlooked by run-of-the-mill grinders. Moments like the stop-start riff that opens “Blackest Evocation” or those interwoven guitars in “Covered In Red” stick out as hooks amongst the explosive blasting, and therein lies a large part of Haunting Fear’s repeat-offender listenability.
Now two impressive releases into their Relapse career, I’m still not 100% sure that The Drip is quite in the upper ranks of grindcore yet, but they’re moving up quickly with every effort, and that certainly counts for something. Thus, it stands to reason that The Haunting Fear Of Inevitability is the best I’ve heard from them yet, and it’s absolutely worth a spin to anyone interested in modern grindcore that’s neither too polished, nor too sloppy; neither too tech-ish, nor too rudimentary. This one’s a band to keep tabs on, for sure.