Ah, we’ve come to lucky number 13 for this little column I decided to do on the spur of a half-blitzed moment, and to celebrate, Blast Rites is taking on the latest from a personal favorite. Historically hyper-prolific, Suffering Mind may have slowed their prodigious release pace since returning from a brief hiatus back in 2018, but they certainly haven’t lost any of the manic grinding intensity that has defined them for nearly fifteen years.
Lifeless is an album in two halves, literally in its physical form as an LP and cassette (or digitally, divided into LP sides, for whatever reason), but it’s also halved creatively, as well. It’s eight-and-a-half minutes of relentless riffy grinding, with a bit of death metal flair, and then an additional eight-and-a-half minutes of a single noise track built of film samples (Hellraiser: Inferno2000, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, the incomparable Zardoz, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes), ambient flourishes, and various musique concrete bits split up with a few sporadic bursts of grinding. To tackle the latter half first, it’s an interesting listen, albeit one that’s, by its very nature, meandering and not likely to see many recurrent spins. It shows a different side (again, here, literally) to what Suffering Mind can do, but let’s all be honest with ourselves: It’s not what we came to talk about.
What we’re all really on board for is the grind, and thankfully, Lifeless’ Side A delivers much of that, with all the nonstop blasting and wickedly catchy riffing that we should expect, given the band name on the cover. One trait that I’ve always enjoyed about Suffering Mind is their ability to inject just enough technicality and twists into their riffs and arrangements to really keep thirty-second blastfests from just becoming an exercise in energetic endurance. Bits like the brief stuttering mid-song swing in “Pointless Exercise” are hooky as hell, even as they only last for the blink of an eye. Tracks like “Lifeless,” “Vested Interest,” “Betray”… These all have riffs for days, even if days in Grind World only last for seconds in real life. Each has a depth of arrangement that a lesser band might blow right through, sacrificing smarts in favor of speed (though Suffering Mind certainly has plenty of that, also).
Any new Suffering Mind is cause for celebration, and Lifeless upholds its end of the bargain. It’s produced well enough, certainly in line with their usual standard – the guitars are sharp, carving; the vocals are punchy, the standard mix of lower death grunts and higher pitched shrieks; the drums are live, but not lo-fi. But most importantly, it’s the sound of a killer grindcore band making killer grindcore, with the added bonus of an extra side of ambient oddity. Quite simply, it’s one of 2022’s best grinders so far, and a more than welcome addition to my collection.
(Author’s note: Slim pickings in the digital world for this one, if you’re looking for more than just Side A / Side B, but conveniently, vinyl exists, so grab a physical copy. Pick it up through Psychocontrol for you fine folks in the EU, and through 625 Thrashcore in the US, which is actually sold through To Live A Lie.)