Germany’s Mindflair has been lurking around the grindcore scene since 1994, issuing a series of splits over the course of nearly a decade before releasing their first full-length in 2002’s Green Bakery. That one was my initial exposure to the band, and while it’s certainly a good enough start, the improvement between Bakery and its 2004 follow-up was a significant step forward.
Like Bakery, the somewhat-ironically titled Stagnation was a mash-up of woozy sludge and blasthappy punkish grinding, the latter providing the fury whilst the former brought some release from the the tension in the form of some great memorable riffs that poked forth from the maelstrom. Frantic and fuming, because of those riffs and because of its relatively straightforward arrangement, Stagnation occupied the end of grindcore that passes at times for “catchy” – beneath the high-pitched chattering screaming, the whole of it was so happily chaotic that it was just damned fun. Still, as good as the tunes themselves were, Stagnation’s production was a bit flat, and like so many second-tier(-and-below) grind albums, it could’ve simply been sharpened further to turn it into a precision instrument versus just a blunt-force, raw-nerve bludgeoning.
Thankfully, Mindflair’s forward progress continues; the improvement between Green Bakery, Stagnation, and now Scourge Of Mankind is a continued upswing. Stagnation’s production concerns have been corrected, although Scourge is anything but slick. Like Stagnation was to Bakery, Scourge is to Stagnation: similar in style, but sharper, more pointed, improved.
From the opening “Black Frost” through the absolutely raging “Sunprotectionfactor 13” to “Unkrautbekämpfung,” Scourge Of Mankind simply doesn’t let up, delivering quality grindcore for the duration. I could sit and analyze individual moments of each track – there’s a great riff here or a great one there, like the middle section of “Unconditional” or the twisting end of “Ideal Of Stupidity” or the brief Soilent Green-ish Southern-ism of “Conspiracy Of Shit” – but why bother? Grind is often criticized for its wall-of-noise approach, for every song sounding similar (if not virtually identical), for the parts blurring together into an indistinct whole. And that can certainly be very true. But Scourge Of Mankind is one of those grind records that shows that, while a wall of noise can be a detriment in the hands of a lesser band, in the hands of a band of veterans who’ve honed their craft to a fine point, that attack functions perfectly well. With relief points expertly inserted into the chaos, with memorable riffs and sludgier moments breaking up the blasting, Mindflair gets their point across without lessening by one iota the visceral impact of the whole.
Scourge Of Mankind is undoubtedly Mindflair’s finest hour – or at least, their finest 25 minutes. It’s a marked improvement over Stagnation, which was a marked improvement over anything else they’ve done so far. It’s weird to say that a band that’s over twenty years old is “on the rise,” but that’s what they’re doing – they just keep getting better, and this is the result. It’s a damn fun grind record, and absolutely worth your time.