These Italian grinders are celebrating their 30th anniversary with this one, their seventh full-length album, but don’t think for a second that they’ve mellowed in their older age.
Not surprisingly, given that effusive praise, I’d hold Nero in metasasi up as very likely Cripple Bastards’ finest, the culmination of a long upward trajectory as they improved with every album, a more focused take on the chaotic greatness of earlier efforts like Desperately Insensitive or the also-blistering Variante alla morte. With each subsequent record, the Bastards moved forward, stepping just a little further away from the noisy and crusty roots and into a sharper, riffier and yet no less violent attack.
So where do the Bastards’ go from Nero?
Well, a slight step backwards, but that’s not a bad thing…
Mostly, La fine cresca da dentro (“the end grows from within”) feels like a return towards Variante form. Like both Variente and especially Nero, it sports loads of amped-up sharp and hooky riffs — the Bastards’ strongest musical quality — but unlike Nero, it scrubs them of Fredrik Nordstrom’s relatively polished production. The remainder of La fine’s approach is Cripple Bastards being Cripple Bastards — Giulio screams, barks, speaks, shouts, grunts, and growls, cycling through a variety of voices, from the death metal guttural to an almost death-rock spoken-word intonation. As usual, all of it’s in Italian, so I have no idea what he’s going on about, but goddamned if he doesn’t seem really pissed off about something. Der Kommissar and Wild Vitto spit forth those riffs, now with the guitar tone gnarled up a bit, whilst new drummer Raphael Saini shifts between blasting and grooving with ease.
But really, even beyond the riffs and the signature fury, what keeps the Bastards among grindcore’s more engaging purveyors is their ability to create memorable songs within a swirling maelstrom of blastbeats and thrash riffs and unintelligible screaming. Nearly every track has some kind of well-crafted hook, if such a term can be applied to a record like this — the twisted riffing and Slayer-esque solo of “Non Coinvolto”; the techy midsection of “Due Metà In Un Errore”; the entirety of “Chiusura Forzata,” which at five minutes is the album’s longest and most developed class in death-grind mastery; the thrashing drive of “Narcolessia Emotiva” and the hardcore punk of “Nervi in Guerra”; the “three songs in sixteen seconds” punch of “Equilibrio Ansiogeno,” “Interrato Vivo,” and “Quali Sentieri,”… All forms of extremity are welcome in the Bastards’ relentless barrage.
So the question then becomes: Is La fine better than Nero? And the answer is: I’m not sure, but if it isn’t, it’s damned close to it, and regardless of if it’s first, second, or third even behind Variante in the Bastards’ canon, La fine is unquestionably an absolute ripper, from tip to toe. Coming not long after the lackluster let-down of Pig Destroyer’s latest and worst, La fine cresca da dentro is exactly the grind hero we all need — it’s made entirely of riffs, rage, riffs, blasts, riffs, rage, and riffs… What else could we possibly want?
Thirty years in and as angry as ever…