This is not your run-of-the-mill buzzsaw defilement, kids. This is the grotesque kind. Remember to keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times…
Japan’s Mortify is something of a supergroup: Drummer Peter “Ryo” Kikuchi also sits behind the kit for underrated sludgers Su19b, while guitarist Takuya “Tak” Koreeda spent a decade as bassist for the doom/death killers in Coffins. Vocalist Adam Jennings comes in all the way from Chicago, where he grunts and screams for both grindcore outfit Sick / Tired and sludge doomsters Disrotted. Since these three first got together in 2017, Grotesque Buzzsaw Defilement marks Mortify’s second full-length album, behind 2019’s Stench Of Swedish Buzzsaw.
This is not Swedeath. Not really, anyway.
What Grotesque Buzzsaw Defilement is is blood-splattered gory grindcore, but with a strong death metal influence and sporting that sweet sweet Sunlight Studios guitar tone, all of which, of course, is perfectly fine with me. Like the Mortify record before it, Grotesque Buzzsaw Defilement is short and straight to the point, although whereas Stench blitzed through 20 songs in half as many minutes, Grotesque lengthens the individual increments and offers only 13 songs in almost the same amount of time. That run-time development is a notable one because my primary point of constructive criticism concerning Stench Of Swedish Buzzsaw — and it’s an odd and nitpicky one for a grindcore record, I’ll admit — is that the songs were sometimes over a little too soon.
Stench was (is) a very fun death/grind album. Mortify can bring the riffs, and also the blasts and the grooves and the gore; Jennings’ gutturals are generally deep, with some occasional choked goblin growls, and in either instance, they’re virtually oozing with fetid filth. But still, with a whole record of songs that are all approximately thirty-seconds in length, and often even shorter, sometimes a quality idea gets exposed and discarded so quickly that it’s a bit of a bummer, like maybe a little more of it would’ve really hammered that moment home.
Now, two years later for Grotesque Buzzsaw Defilement, Mortify retains the same overall stylistic approach, but their songs are pushing towards an average mark of :45-1:00, which doesn’t seem like a huge change, but it actually is. That 50-100% increase in running time allows these ideas to develop a step further, gives them more room to grow, and makes the pieces feel more complete, overall, more constructed than those of the previous effort. Add to that the fact, that on Stench, Jennings stuck to a more death metal approach, but on Grotesque, he’s shifting towards a wider usage of grunts and growls and screams and gurgles, and you have a more balanced, more refined approach that doesn’t sacrifice any of the inherent viciousness of the band’s chosen style.
Like most grind albums, Grotesque Buzzsaw Defilement is probably best taken as one piece — I mean, there’s only ten minutes’ worth of it, anyway — but nevertheless, when broken into its components, there are some great tracks from the get-go. See: the grinding pound of “Organ Terror,” with simple but stellar chunky riffing sandwiched between Jennings’ grunts and Ryu’s blasts. On the whole, though, Grotesque picks up in its second half, after the brief interlude of a well done Agathocles cover. Witness the walloping of “Grabby Hands,” with a quick melodic riff inserted in the middle between some bulldozer thrashing and grinding. Or the gnarled twists of “Mangy Mutts,” Tak’s guitars turning circles around themselves. Or the relentless kick of the wonderfully named “Smells Of Barfs,” all punked-up death metal fury…
Bands are supposed to get better as they go along — that’s the concept of progression, of refining your craft, of perfecting your art. Stench Of Swedish Buzzsaw laid a good groundwork, and Grotesque improves upon that base. Does it expand grindcore’s horizons? No, not at all. Is it a fun way to spend ten minutes, with Swedish buzzsaw riffs and blastbeats? Oh, hell, yes. And does it rip like a champ and make you want to dance with ol’ zombie Morty and help him kiss that HM2 pedal? Absolutely.
Pucker up and dance.