Wednesday 15 August 2018

Review: Axegrinder – 'Satori'


With a hiatus between albums that even Tool would find excessive, crustpunks Axegrinder mark 29 years since their debut album 'The Rise Of The Serpent Men', with their sophomoric effort, 'Satori'. It is a familiar story these days with many bands from the 80s and 90s being resurrected and the results are often mixed. However Axegrinder have definitely comeback strong.

A more methodical and mature sound distinguishes the new album from it's predecessor. Elements of Prong, Conflict, Amebix and even Killing Joke rear up from the depths. The album closely mirrors it's predecessor structurally but the cleaner production and modern recording is offset by dirtier guitars and more vitriolic vocals to set it apart from their debut.

The album's opener '61803398875' is a curveball with it's poetic spoken feminine vocals and ambient drones giving way to dirty guitars, and ultimately the chugging chant-a-long 'Halo (Snakes For the Breeding)', which sets the true tone of the album. 'Rain' evokes 'Cleansing' era Prong with it's steady industrial guitars and Paul Raven style groove. While 'The Unthinkable' strays into Killing Joke territory with Trev's maniacal vocal delivery combined with some nice melodies cutting through. It's a formula that serves them well and provides a strong and accessible backbone for the entire album.

Production-wise the album is fresh and modern, with the guitars and vocals giving it the brunt of it's crustiness. But the more methodical approach and the grooves and industrial tones give it more depth beyond it's metallic-crust roots. And ultimately a broader appeal.

It may have been a near thirty year wait between albums, but this is one of those cases where it was worth the wait. The sound has picked up from where it left off certainly, but it progresses nicely as well. It is relevant, pissed-off and catchy throughout, and hopefully signals the start of a lot more activity from the band as 'Satori' is a strong (re)starting point.

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