Slow down. Head bang with the beat. Start a wall of death in the pit. Decimate your eardrums with Escuela Grind and their homage to death metal on their latest EP.

Release date: January 12, 2024 | MNRK Heavy | Facebook | Instagram | X/Twitter | Bandcamp 

There is a point when a band trying on different styles can be corny. Ween jumps genres so much it is like listening to six boozed up music fans fight for the next song on a jukebox. It doesn’t do it for me. As much of a fan of Melvins as I am, their relentless experimentation doesn’t always pan out, but they did inspire Boris, who generally succeed in their musical restlessness. So, it isn’t always a bad thing. It is definitely better when an artist devotes an entire album to experimentation, even better yet, an EP.

Delivering a brief foray into their take on a somewhat different genre, Pittsfield, Massachusetts’s Escuela Grind unleash DDEEAATTHHMMEETTAALL as the third release in a series of genre tribute EPs. I have a deep love for Escuela Grind on their full length albums and their thrilling live performances, and these EPs offer a glimpse at their influences and excursions into their respective genres.

PPOOWWEERRVVIIOOLLEENNCCEE was their first release in 2020. GGRRIINNDDCCOORREE followed a few months later. The former explored more punk influenced short aggressive songs while the latter explored even shorter aggressive songs. These very brief EPs bookended their first full length album, Indoctrination, which can easily be described by both powerviolence and grindcore (read: short aggressive songs).

2022’s sophomore album, Memory Theater, saw Escuela Grind exploring longer song lengths and wearing some of their myriad influences on their sleeves. Glimpses of nu metal, death metal, and hardcore deepened their sound and made Memory Theater one of my favorite albums that year. So, with Kurt Ballou behind the boards, the coolest kids in grind take on the monolithic juggernaut, a veritable kingdom of the heavy metal taxonomy of death metal.

Trve death metal fans are a persnickety bunch. They harshly defend their favorite genre from anything that doesn’t sound like a few bands from thirty years ago, as is the case with many metal subgenres. So, it is a bold move for Escuela Grind to tread in waters that would betray the grindcore nerds and tempt ire from the death metal horde. That being said, it is best to think of DDEEAATTHHMMEEAATTAALL as a a fun foray into genre experimentation rather than a new statement of intent for the band.

Escuela Grind didn’t drop a sudden death metal masterpiece, but they did do what they do best: deliver powerfully heavy bombasts that make you move. Krissy Morash and Tom Sifuentes conjure bone-quaking riffs. Jesse Fuentes slows down their drumming to a mid-paced fury that occasionally erupts into full throttle mayhem; each snare hit and bass kick punch you in the sternum. Katerina Economou again proves they are the most exciting frontperson in metal, summoning vocals that sound utterly unhinged, inhuman, and inhospitable to bullshit. Going toe to toe with the legendary Barney Greenway of Napalm Death on “Meat Magnet” would be intimidating to any vocalist, but if Economou had any reservations, they are eviscerated in the final cut.

“Ball and Chain” sees Escuela Grind at their slowest with its slow build of an intro that calls to mind a Sanguisugabogg build up. The track ascends into all of the vitriol we’ve come to love from EG, if a little slower. “Punishment Ritual” and “Abyssal Plane” speed things up and provide satisfying headbanging riffs. The aforementioned “Meat Magnet” with Greenway steals the show with its thrashed-up rage and punishing vocals.

Escuela Grind show us that even at a slower tempo and more riff-centric they reliably can fuck shit up. The longer song structures suit their sound just fine, and DDEEAATTHHMMEETTAALL is a great exercise in that, perhaps a glimpse into the future for the young band. With continued experimentation and diversified sounds at their disposal, Escuela Grind have every potential to bring great texture and artistry to their short, aggressive songs.

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