AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED FINALLY RECORD AN ALBUM BETTER THAN THEIR NAME
Given his godly tenure with Pig Destroyer, I’d never question Scott Hull’s songwriting skill. Given his confidential government IT dayjob, it’d be inadvisable to criticize the dude anyway, lest I find myself the unwitting victim of extraordinary rendition to Uzbekistan. But it’s still a welcome surprise that for the first time in over a decade, Hull’s other grind band, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, has songs notable for something other than their brevity. ANb’s third full-length, Agorapocalypse, has nothing on 2003’s 3-inch, 100-track Altered States of America in terms of novelty. What it does have is groove, structure and listenability up the ass. I just listened to it three times in a row and it’s not even 9am. And my ass hurts.
For a project that’s essentially one musician, three vocalists and a drum machine, ANb sound more like a proper band than ever. It helps that Hull’s cyberdrums are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing – check the 50-second drum solo in “Question of Integrity,” a towering triumph of pre-programmed spontaneity. Each of ANb’s three throat-scrapers has a separate personality, none more intimidating than that of new member Kat, whose ferocious screaming on “Moral Distortion” (“A flaccid mouth / Spews violent / Tyrannical notions”) immediately vaults her up to Grace Perry levels of grindcore postergirl cred.
“Accepting the absurd / Has become second nature…no purpose in being offensive” hurls ANb’s electronics man and vocalist J. Randall on “Question of Integrity.” A fitting mantra for an album whose topics include Orwellian dystopias, seriously disturbed drug-snorting sex fantasies, and plenty of cheeky self-referencing (“In a world where I never existed / No friends, no family, no ANb/My cargo sold for next to nothing / To some Japanese / That years later was rumored to have had programmed the world’s first blast beat”). Agorapocalypse’s lyrics run the gamut between trenchant sociopolitical commentary and id-worshipping hedonism, and if that makes it harder to take the whole thing seriously, it’s also a sign that the band isn’t holding anything back.
Even at the album’s silliest, there’s simply no fucking with Hull’s riffing. It stretches out comfortably into epic-length (two-to-three minute) expanses, chewing up monster death metal grooves (“Hung From the Rising Sun,” “White on White Crime”) that tie together some mighty violent bouts of grind punishment (“First National Stem Cell and Clone,” “Druggernaut Jug Fuck”). These are riffs you can take home to your mother. You may marvel at how an album so unhinged lyrically can be so controlled musically. Then you hear Agorapocalypse’s final line “I’ll fuck you in the face, bitch,” and you check out Florian’s totally fucked cover art, and you head back to track one for another ticket to Grindville. For a brief 28 minutes and 37 seconds, all thoughts of Pig Destroyer fade away, and there is only Agorapocalypse.
(four out of five horns)