Antigama were one of the first grind bands I got into around the release of their 2013 album Meteor, and for the longest while, everything else felt soft and bland in contrast. There was something magical in their sound, being the aforementioned concoction of fast-paced, highly technical grindcore with emphasis on odd grooves and an overall experimental approach. The resulting well-contained chaos acted as an eye-opener for my late teen self, and I’ve held them close to my heart ever since. Surprisingly, they only put out one further album, an EP, and some splits since then, but they were all equally enjoyable and had similar uncanny replay value, although the albums are where the act shines the brightest.
Now, nearly a decade removed from my initial discovery of them, the group’s brand new face-bashing lesson in excellence Whiteout not only pushed me back to that time, mentally, but brings forth a band that has gone through an inexplicable evolution, offering us what just might be their most pristine and refined effort to date. After all, they are a band on their 22nd year in existence, so that point about them reaching their peak right now shouldn’t be taken lightly.
One thing I’ve always admired with Antigama is their production value that’s out of this world, especially when compared to your more standard grind band. There’s no potato recorder gutter vibe to be found here, as the overall clarity lets every single possible nuance breathe freely while the entirety hits harder than a freight train would hit a pigeon. Surely some gatekeeping genre gonads would whine about that exact thing, but for every one of those, there’s five of us who can appreciate the fact that a band wants to push their limits and advance somewhere.
“Undeterminate” opens the a-hair-under-thirty-minutes barrage with familiar, ever-twisting methodic instrumentation, bouncing and swerving rhythms, and Myszkowski’s signature vocals. Adding to the latter, Antigama‘s songwriting style is almost ridiculous in how perplexingly unique it is. There’s no knowing of what’ll happen next; it’s all entirely boundless, yet identifiable, and somehow it all clicks. The following song “Debt Pool” continues in a ravaging fashion, and by its mid-point any listener should be well aware that they’re in for the ride of their lives.
Whiteout shines perhaps the most during the more demolishing tracks such as “Holy Hand”, “Dust Farm”, and “Align”. This trio, for an example, posseses the perfect balance between fast pummeling and mid-tempo raging, the latter of which is a big reason why Antigama is as worthwhile of a group as they are. There’s just something wildly pleasant about being able to have all of one’s needs met within a single album, let alone within individual songs. I’ve had it on repeat for quite the many times now, but the wild card moments still squeeze a smile out of my ugly mug, and that’s nothing short of wonderful.
Another aspect that I can truly appreciate with Antigama is the fact that even though their experimental edge has always been present, and even making some truly deep cuts here and there, they’ve always went with the music’s own terms without going overboard or using the leaning as a justification to do, well, dumb shit. While at times these tendencies showcase themselves as subtle flavours within songs (like on the odd snare resonance in “The Howler”), at times full tracks are dedicated to the more out of the box material. Such is the case with Whiteout‘s closing track “2222”. The less than three minute endeavour opens with cacophonous industrial noise, picks up the pace with the riff and some odd laughing sample. The minimal vocals, if you can call them that, subside after a minute, the rest being a varying fest of rhythmic patterns topped off with a constant fucking saxophone solo, because why not? If anything, it’s a cool way to bring the otherwise intense album to its deserved close.
Antigama are legends in their genre for a reason. Whiteout will probably not turn around any die-hard opinions one way or the other, but its magnificence is damn near unparalleled in its aural realm. There’s just enough of everything to be found on the record to make it balanced, and due to its length, it’s very easy to take in during one sitting, even though I can understand how the immense amounts of hooks and details might be overwhelming for a while. Even then, Whiteout is such an astonishing effort in boot-to-the-face methodology that it shouldn’t fly under anyone’s radar.