REVIEW: I WOULD KISS HIVESMASHER’S GUTTER CHOIR IF IT WEREN’T SO F*CKING UGLY
It takes a moment to understand the beauty of Hivesmasher’s band name. Think about it: either this Massachusetts grindcore sextet are destroying the insect-like mindset that mankind has taken onto itself, or they’re about to get the shit stung out of them by a thousand enraged wasps. Both concepts are accurate representations of the band’s sound, which is furious tongue-in-cheek chug-grind in the style of Wormrot, Scarlet, and Graf Orlock. And on their second full-length release Gutter Choir, the band powers through seventeen bursts of gross-out chaos that manages to sound strung-out, sloppy, chaotic, and yet satisfyingly technical.
There’s as much proper death metal to Hivesmasher as there is traditional grindcore. The band utilizes plenty of swinging gallops and pounding downtuned breakdowns as well as disharmonic whirlwinds and fast-forward fight riffs. While the band provides a couple of old-school songs clocking in at barely over a minute like “Ugly Cat” and “The Dirty Black Cloud,” they also take the time to craft dynamic tracks with beginnings, middles, and endings, such as “The Shit Waltz” and the punishing “They Thought We’d Forget.” Vocalist Aaron Heinold’s bellows and shrieks are smartly layered, mixing into a filthy scream reminiscent of vocal performances in bands like Exhumed and The Black Dahlia Murder. And let’s not forget the smartassery. Like any band in their genre worth their salt, Hivesmasher treat their music with a generous level of hilarious disrespect. Song titles like “Vomitouch,” “Strangled Beings and Vice Versa,” and the always charming “En Route to Meatland” give the band a certain terrifying off-kilter atmosphere, like a guy laughing so hard at a car crash that you start to worry.
Gutter Choir has issues here and there. Most grindcore can be hard to stomach for an hour straight, and Hivesmasher are no different; after ten songs, I began to feel like my ears were getting beaten half to death. There are also times where I wondered if the band couldn’t take their more melodic and dynamic moments a little further; the occasionally-used keyboards could, if orchestrated right, add something sinister to their presence. But these flaws are easily trampled by Hivesmasher’s frantic stampede of filth and frenzy. From start to finish, Gutter Choir is a nasty blaze of sweaty, drunken misery and confusion — just like your life!