At the place where Powerviolence Alley runs into Grindcore Blvd, just between Hardcore Street and Sludge Avenue, a block or three from Psychedelia Place, there’s a dingy basement rehearsal space filled with smoke and cockroaches and anger. Inside that space right now, there’s a three-piece band, bashing out a particularly potent, loud and ugly noise, feedback laden and violent, emotional and pulverizing.
This newfound expansion of sound is most immediately noticeable in Psychic Rot’s two interlude tracks, conveniently titled “Interlude 1” and “Interlude 2,” twin synthesizer-pad-laden electronic flirtations topped with sound-bite samples and acoustic-guitar arpeggios that wouldn’t be out of place on a goregrind album. But that same expansion is present even in the more traditionally Backslider-y sounds of ragers like “Bone Thief” and “Psuedomessiah,” the latter with its cacophonous blasting offset by a spacy middle section and the former with its swaggering rock drive that spirals down into a lumbering groove before spinning back up to blasting tempo and working its way back down again. Of Psychic Rot’s 8 actual songs, each is a killer slice of swaggering sludgy hardcore in its own right, with some riffs that wouldn’t be out of place on an Eyehategod record and others that wouldn’t be out of place on a Napalm Death one.
In addition to being some of Backslider’s best material in their fourteen years so far, Psychic Rot is also the best produced. Recorded and mixed by longtime collaborator Kevin Bernstein, Psychic Rot sounds massive, with guitarist Logan Neubauer’s guitar tone appropriately filthy and Jake S’ bass tone distorted and beautifully gnarly atop Jake C’s massive thumping. Neubauer’s tough-guy hardcore bark doesn’t leave much room for vocal variation, but these tracks are strong enough and smartly written enough to compensate for that by adding dynamics through shifting tempos and strong riffs.
Now two-thirds a new band, this latest incarnation of Backslider is the strongest yet, and Psychic Rot is the culmination of that growth. It’s a damned fine and damned fun collection of sludge-caked audio violence, stout and pummeling and now with an added depth beyond the band’s trademark intensity. Backslider’s back, crawling up from that basement, and they’re as pissed-off as ever. Get nasty.