Blast Rites #6: Proudhon – Social Tympanum Review

Self-created genre tags are always interesting to me – I know I’ve commented on many in reviews past. This French outfit labels their sound “rusty death/grind.” Not crusty, mind you. Rusty. Like that century-old locomotive in the town square, the beast of a bygone age set out to pasture.

But in listening now… well, I’ll be damned if “rusty” isn’t a strangely accurate description.

Release date: March 20, 2022. Label: Inhuman Homicide / Duality.
It’s not so much that Proudhon’s style of death/grind feels old or rickety, necessarily – but more that there’s a certain “early industrial” feel here, but not at all in the sense of what we would normally consider “industrial” music, early or otherwise. But these guitars do grind, like ancient iron coupling rods atop wheels pushed forward by the relentless power of the piston-like rhythms; the guitar tone rings like the sonorous protestations of old machinery creaking and crackling to life; the bass sounds like the pinging of coiled springs. All of Proudhon’s grinding possesses a certain dirty and soiled feeling without being particularly crusty-with-a-C, at least not in the traditional scummy ‘n’ scuzzy grindcore sense of that term.

That’s all a bit melodramatic and flowery, admittedly, and maybe those images are only in my head while I listen because the band’s self-description put them there (and likely, any Industrial Revolution imagery is amplified by the striking and atypically brutal album artwork), but nevertheless, they fit the music. The first full-length from Proudhon (pronounced “Proudhon”), Social Tympanum is a ferocious blast of short and dirty grinding, and a marked improvement over last year’s shorter and less developed The Damaged Bodies. (Also released in 2021, K.U.N.S.T. is a sidestep into a much noisier, more abrasive form of grind that, while interesting and certainly ugly, is a little outside the norm for Proudhon, it appears.)

Opener “Cheulard” (“Drunkard”) blasts and roils, vocalist and drummer Thomas grunting primarily in a formidable low guttural above Antoine’s chunky, churning riffs. The occasional bouts of a dissonant, scraping angularity emerge in “Arsenic” or “Day Of Glory”; dashes of steamroller groove appear in moments like mid-album standout “Marx On Mars” or the swaggering back half of “Everything Is Possible But Nothing Is Allowed” or “Pante Self-Management.” A brief sample of birdsong serves as a short respite from the barrage, leading into the gnarled guitar melody of the instrumental “Last Chirp,” Tympanum’s only flirtation with a guitar lead. As the surprisingly melodic “Les Temps Moderne” fades into a French folk song that I should probably know (and clearly do not – my barrel organ knowledge if limited, I’m afraid), Social Tympanum has been a twenty-five minute blast of exhilarating grinding and growling, a stream of crunchy riffs balanced against throat-shredding aggression and furious tempo, and well, hell… that’s exactly what I wanted.

Alongside their fellow Bisontins in the stellar Whoresnation (who have a new record in the works and whose vocalist Pibe makes a guest appearance here, on penultimate track “Cyber Nuke”), Proudhon is keeping grindcore on track in Eastern France. Social Tympanum is one hell of a fun time, and a strong step upwards for this relatively new band.

Rusty or not, here they come.

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

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

  1. Isn’t it odd that both this and ClearxCut’s “Songs of Armed Desire” (also released this year) shared the same cover art?


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