Marginal – Total Destruction Review

Born from the same anarcho-punk bloodline, crust and grind are natural bedfellows. But of course, when bedfellows come from the same bloodline, well… sometimes the results are… a bit stunted.

Belgium’s Marginal is a good example of that – they’ve got the sound down, the fuzz-gnarly guitars, the blastbeats-meets-punk drive, the whole nine crusty yards, but there’s still something a little lacking in the result. It’s all too simple, too straightforward, short on those certain subtleties that push the best of the style above the pack. Both punk and grindcore have a tendency to blur together into one giant chaotic wall of noise, and a large part of Total Destruction does just that. The riffs are simple, not total failures but only rarely memorable, and the vocal attack almost never deviates from a monotonous death-grunt, like Barney Greenway stuck on a low setting, missing the fire and furnace-bellow fury that makes him one of the all-time greats.

Release date: December 15, 2017. Label: Transcending Obscurity.
Opening track “Barbarians” milks its two-note primary riff for far too long, but there’s something somewhat redeeming in the simplicity of the chorus, even if the rest of the song doesn’t live up to it. Much of Total Destruction is like a stripped-down Napalm Death blasting through some d-beat-leaning ideas in the jam room, or Extreme Noise Terror if one vocalist didn’t show up; it’s early grind’s most basic structure, minus the experimental bent of later entries, and lacking any real instrumental dynamics or deviation. Simple riffs come, are either forgotten or generally drug out a short stretch past their sell-by date, and then the song is over. A scant few moments poke their heads above the maelstrom, most notably the midtempo chugging title track at the very end of the record, which Is likely the album’s strongest track.

I couldn’t (or wouldn’t… and won’t) begin to count how many bands tread similar crust-grind waters, but many of them have proven that there’s potential in Marginal’s sound. Total Destruction isn’t unlistenable, but neither is it particularly compelling. Ideas are here, but not always utilized properly, and the end is this: Marginal hasn’t written a great record yet. If grind-leaning crust-punk gets your heart all a-flutter, then you could absolutely do worse, but know there are far better examples of the style to be found.

I mean, the band name literally means “of secondary or minor importance…”

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

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