Death. Black. Grind. Speed. Thrash. Crust. The basic species of metal.
As I stumble my way through the Zoology courses I am taking I am struck, again and again, how backwards the whole enterprise can be. Early man found themselves in a world populated with other life. These other lifes had specific common traits. Which is to say, a chicken is pretty much the same as all the other chickens, even if details may differ slightly. Early man very logically assumed it had always been this way. Chickens were chickens, period.
This never stops until you hit the original life form. Even then, you may not actually detect the very moment natural mechanical processes graduated to life. There may not have been such a moment. Hell, we have some difficulty actually defining life, let alone identifying what it would look like when it emerged.
But man needs categories. Man needs to identify things and see how they relate. We need to be sure we are not wasting time and energy breeding chickens with goats. We need to be sure we are not running in terror from both bears and cows. These variations on the theme of life have to be categorized for all our sake. Never the less, when someone asks me which came first, the chicken or the egg, I say “wrong”. The question misunderstands the problem.
The question of whether Noisem is black, thrash, crust, grind or death misunderstands the problem of modern metal. In fact, they are a derivation on a theme. What separates species in zoology is no simple question. Basically, if two individuals can interbreed and have viable offspring, they are of a species. But there are exceptions. Some creatures COULD interbreed, but they don’t. (Two populations of killer whales have been observed speciating, because one population feeds on the sea floor and the other on the surface. Slowly they stopped seeing each other as marriage material. But there is little doubt they COULD breed.)
Noisem is the offspring of species that generally don’t interbreed, but COULD, and HAVE, and increasingly ARE. And this particular offspring is a fucking predator and a half. Grindcore ferocity, crust abandon, black rage, thrash speed and death power. I will not try to force the band into any species-specific classification. They share characteristics with all of them.
They have a ferociously classic crossover vibe, but their attitude comes closer to Nails than DRI. Sebastian Phillips’ guitarwork is decidedly free of the Boss HM sound that would have placed the band in Nasum territory, and that makes his lightning chord work easier to delineate, as well as leaving a little more room for the rhythm section to crawl around in.
Composed of bassist/vocalist Ben Anft and drummer Harley Phillips, that section is doing plenty of work down there. Ben’s Lilker-esque tone is a distorted strafing run, over and over, and Harley’s drums are the shell impacts. They feel inescapable and deadly together, whether blasting, moshing or grooving, they are tight and deranged.
Ben’s maddened Carcass/Exhumed style of raspy vocals fit the tenor and tone of the songs incredibly well. He lets a lot of personality seep into the performances, which makes it all the more compelling.
What do they get wrong? Not much. In fact, the only possible complaint I might have had would have been that a little goes a long way, but the album is brief, so even that doesn’t factor in. No song breaks the 3 minute barrier, and that makes them just about the perfect length to keep your attention and still feel fully realized.
Whenever I hear a quality band like Noisem I start to resent the classifications of the various species and subspecies of modern metal. They don’t fit into any single genus. They are closer to the shared ancestors of all the modern fast, punkish, thrashy deathy blacky bands—and yet they are as modern as any metal band can be. It took dozens of years, rather than billions, for this form to evolve, and it is sometimes best just to appreciate it for what it is: wild and deadly, and not to worry so much about what we want to make it.