Eighteen songs in eighteen minutes. There’s a balance in that, a certain perfect economy. No time for funny business, so give none; no time for prisoners, so take none. Get in; kick ass; get out.
English trio Human Cull has been grinding along since 2011, their influences worn proudly on their sleeve: early Napalm Death, Terrorizer, Extreme Noise Terror… This is grindcore of the old-school, crust-covered variety, gnarly and ugly and blasting and screaming and concise, raw and unapologetic. After multiple splits and EPs, Human Cull dropped their first full-length back in 2014, the utterly relentless Stillborn Nation, and here they are with their second full-length, four years later.
Secondly, Revenant is a step up in overall construction, which is to say that Human Cull’s songwriting has progressed. These tracks are all still straight-up grind, one-minute-ish bursts of compacted violence split into eighteen parts across the disc, but think of Revenant like a boxer after years of intense training: Stillborn Nation hit hard, but Revenant hits harder with the same fists, having improved the technique and increased the strength behind the rain of blows. The component parts are immediately recognizable as the logical extension of Human Cull’s previous efforts, much the same in concept, and yet now they’re refined — the blunt-force is a bit more directed, the edges aren’t worn off so much as sharpened for greater devastation.
Atop Sam Trenchard’s nearly non-pause blastbeats, vocalist and guitarist Edd Robinson sticks primarily to a chest-bursting bellow, with rare deviations–most notably, the album opens with a harrowing scream, but that one’s courtesy of guest vocalist Kristofer Jankarls of Swedish grinders Livet Som Insats. Though more refined than earlier Cull, Revenant’s riffs are punky at heart even when flecked with noticeable nods to thrashing death metal, and as you’d expect, most of it flies by in short bursts of head-pounding aggression, though it breaks the mood expertly with moments like the hardcore swagger in “The Butcher’s Nails,” or the dissonant clamorous clang and trudge of “Like An Emissary Into The Abyss,” or the surprisingly melodic death / doom midsection of “Baleful Foundation.” Come for the whirlwind of “The Worms Of God,” or “Blood,” and stay for the shifting riffs of “The Hecatomb Enterprise”–fast or faster or fastest, loud or louder or loudest, it’s all here.
All of Revenant’s familiarity and progression adds up to say that Human Cull has taken the next steps forward in their four-year lay-off, and the pay-off is profound. As great as Stillborn Nation was – and it was damned good, as were The Persecuting Society, This Septic Isle, and others before – Revenant is all the better for the band’s progress, and consequently, it’s handily the best record Human Cull has released in their seven years so far.
All hail the new grind… that sounds like the old grind…
So get in, get your ass kicked, and get out.