Machetazo – Ultratumba II Review

I’m a sucker for a good grindcore discography comp.

Considering how much of that world is built upon a steady stream of split sevens and shorter-form releases, and with so many of those being on smaller labels or in limited numbers, it can be difficult to keep up with a band’s output. So when one of these chronological wrap-ups of whichever grindfreaks’ history rolls around, you can count me in, almost assuredly.

Release date: November 13, 2020. Label: Selfmadegod.
The Spaniards in Machetazo weren’t just a straight-up grindcore outfit, of course, though there’s more than enough of that particular ugliness in their sound to qualify them as one. They also blended raw and rotten death metal into their putrid mix; they were the unholy spawn of Autopsy and Repulsion, a dash of Avulsed and Incantation and plenty of early Carcass’ cutting chaos.

Back in 2006, Machetazo released the first Ultratumba, compiling the splits and stray tracks they released between 1998 and 2005’s Sinfonia del Terror Ciego full-length. (“Ultratumba” is Spanish for “afterlife,” by the way.) Now, fourteen years later, Ultratumba II picks up where that one left off, from 2005 onward — or put a bit more accurately, it picks up at the end and moves backwards ‘til it intersects with the first Ultratumba, since like the first one, it’s sequenced more or less in reverse chronological order. Contained herein are Machetazo’s tracks from splits with the likes of Headless Death, RAS, Marrow, and Ribspreader, plus the Desolación Mental and Necrocovered EPs, the collaboration with Winters In Osaka, and two tracks from Relapse’s Slimewave split with Total Fucking Destruction.

Machetazo’s last full-length was 2013’s Ruin — has it been that long already? Damn. — and that one’s arguably the best of their three, although Munda Cripta is maybe only a hair’s-breadth behind. So then, with the band closing while firing on all cylinders, it’s likely no surprise that the most recent of these tracks (from two splits released in 2014) are total bashers. The nearly six-minute “(Cerrado por) Defunción” opens the proceedings in fine Machetazo form: carving and catchy riffs atop blastbeats, further topped with Dopi’s crypt-level growl, the whole of it devolving from full-on fury into a sludgy trudge that’s nicely colored with a hellishly twisted wah-wah “lead” from Roberto Bustabad. Later, horror-themed entries originally from the Desolación Mental EP provide further highlights in the Book of Blood-quoting “Los Tentáculos De La Decrepitud” and the atmospheric doominess of that EP’s title track. Elsewhere, there are samples from late-entry Hellraiser films, a killer track named after Phantasm’s Dr. Jebediah Morningside, and more screams, maniacal cackles, and Spanish-language soundbites that I couldn’t identify if I tried… It’s bloodsoaked gore-metal goodness, kids, with all the bells and bloodcurdling whistles. And hell, it comes out on Friday the 13th, even.

In the compilation’s only curveball, Ultratumba II takes a turn toward industrialized noise with the two tracks remixed by Winters In Osaka, both more traditional Machetazo fare filtered through… well, filters, and lots of them, and harsh ones, noisy ones. Those two tracks provide this Ultratumba’s most outside-the-box moments by far, and truthfully, they’re more interesting as anomalies than they are as a listening experience, though they hardly derail the death/grind for long enough to matter. As Ultratumba Dos continues its backwards run through time, the production values decrease as you’d expect, getting more and more crypt-level and rotten, in that certain special Spanish death metal way, though that fetid atmosphere actually works wonders for a band like this, and by the closing punky drive of “Catalepsia,” we’re back almost to Munda Cripta, which is a good place to be in its own right.

Also noteworthy, is that almost a full third of this second Ultratumba is made up of covers of various classic songs, from Kreator to Carnage to Corrupted. Tucked snugly in the album’s center, the tracks that originally made up the Necrocovered EP are almost uniformly killer, with some nifty takes on Carnivore’s unsubtle “Sex & Violence,” Master / Death Strike’s classic ripper “Pay To Die,” a surprisingly adept spin on the raw early blackness of Darkthrone’s “Skald Av Satans Sol,” and a fun mash-up of Obituary’s “Dying” and Septic Death’s “Demon.” In addition to their tastes in classic horror (the sixth Hellraiser notwithstanding), this Spanish trio also clearly had a fine record collection to choose from.

Tragically, Machetazo is gone now, but in the absence of any new material, Ultratumba II serves its intended purpose of rounding up scattered tracks from the second half of their history into one easy-to-find release. I’m a sucker for a good grindcore discography comp, and this is just that. So count me in.

Editor’s note: The actual cover of Ultratumba II is a bit unfortunate and gross — hopefully both you and Machetazo will forgive our (ahem) tongue-in-cheek revision of it.

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

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

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