It’s death metal? It’s grindcore? It’s death metalcore?1
1984 (Eternal) is the only official2 release by Black Arrows of Filth and Impurity (henceforth referred to as BAOFAI) of Indianapolis, IN. There are two halves to this release: five tracks of grindcore highly influenced by death metal and two tracks of noise music. The instrumentation is mildly interesting, if typical: dissonant chords that rarely include notes past fret number five; and lightning-fast riffing with tempo shifts akin to early mathcore by Converge or Coalesce.3 The actual notation is generally unimpressive; BAOFAI’s prowess lies in their ability to keep up with the multitude of changes in time signature and cadence without losing momentum, which would be impressive even if they were playing open strings.
The vocals are a mix of soprano screams and gravel growls; they’re okay, but won’t win any awards when they utter “run for your fucking life” in “Damn, Girlfriend, That Napalm Exfoliates as It Burns.” Speaking of which – why do so many metal/punk fusion bands use these god-awful long-form song titles? Are they supposed to be funny? I actually enjoy the music less when bands pull this stupid shit. What the fuck is a “pearl harbor necklace” anyway? Do I even want to know? Is it a sex thing? It sounds like a sex thing. Am I supposed to think “oh that’s deep” when I read “If Shit Were Gold, the Poor Wouldn’t Have Assholes”? I might find such crap edgy if I were fourteen,4 but now it’s just annoying as hell. Fuck. I have the same goddamn problem with The Smiths.
The final two tracks are great noise experiments that utilize some grindcore elements – especially on “Survivors Envy the Dead” – but are otherwise instrumental, vaguely foreboding, even restrained affairs. They are not as harsh as the twenty-minute closer to Noisear’s Subvert the Dominant Paradigm “Noisearuption.” In fact, they’re quite recommended, as they’re a good example of grindcore’s potential when it dares to break from the standard hardcore HOOGABOOGA and ultra-riffing that was pretty much played out by the time Napalm Death released Utopia Banished. Not that grindcore can’t play such games well – just look at Cloud Rat – but it is refreshing to see what happens when the genre fucks with itself a little bit.
If it were only the first five tracks, 1984 (Eternal) would be a perfectly average album; the last two tracks – which make up the majority of the runtime – improve not only its listenability but also its stature as an engaging, potentially stimulating piece of work. The mathy progressions are nice in the standard grindcore songs, but the true interest lies in those long-form finales.
1. Pearl Harbor Necklace – (3:33) – ★★★☆☆
2. Damn, Girlfriend, That Napalm Exfoliates as It Burns – (1:52) – ★★☆☆☆
3. Nvclear Facelift (Mantra of the Maggot) – (1:38) – ★★★★☆
4. If Shit Were Gold, the Poor Wouldn’t Have Assholes – (1:27) – ★★★☆☆
5. Death Creeps on the Come-Up (1984 Eternal) – (2:15) – ★★★☆☆
6. Survivors Envy the Dead – (17:12)5 – ★★★★☆
7. Your Noise Is Weak – (14:31) – ★★★★☆
[UPDATE 18 March 2016: Changed the overall rating from three-and-a-half stars to three stars.]
2The non-official release being a demo.
3Two words with almost identical definitions.
4Yeah, I was that kid. I would’ve been a redditor had the site existed.
5Lacuna after (12:10).