ZOMBIESHARK! jump off the deep end in a myriad of ways with the wildly expulsive, borderline uncomfortable Die Laughing.

Release date: February 16, 2024 | Theoria Records | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Bandcamp

Cybergrind is a more recent addition to extreme music’s endlessly mutating family tree, but it’s been one of perpetual growth, exponentially reaching out to grasp at more influences like a spreading virus. Like any subgenre, its best, most prolific artists enjoy a correlative increase in growth as they too grow as artists and expand – after having Die Laughing. perform the sonic equivalent of 439 Mortal Kombat fatalities on me loop after loop, I think it’s safe to say that ZOMBIESHARK! are easily within that echelon.

This ‘hyperdeath’ project masterminded by Cory Swope left a mark on me back in 2020 with I Will Destroy You, Myself, and Everything I’ve Ever Loved., an album that came months after COVID started and I greatly enjoyed for directing the chaos into a more controlled form despite the unmitigated, aggressive nature of the music. It was good to be mad at nothing in particular for once. I didn’t have to think about the world or my place in it in a literal sense when the grinding, glitching gangfuck of music was rattling the base of my brain. Now, four years later, how have things changed, for me and for ZOMBIESHARK!?

Well, for the band, it’s certainly been a time of growth and expanse. It was already evident to me after the first few tracks that this was going to be different, likely better than their first LP. It’s, somehow, even darker than before, but also more melodic and catchy which baits you into this false sense of safety and bright allure. Rest assured, those of you looking for pitch-black music, this whole album sounds like it was written and produced in complete underground exile. “Party All The Time” is probably the most misleading title on the whole album, rife with splintered industrial formations and breakbeat-esque staccato drum jabs while the lyrics sound like a sadistic screed from a snuff film (‘Die now/On your fucking knees now/Beg me for your life‘) – and this is just the second track.

Die Laughing. actually comes off as an album full of contradictions, meshing savage human emotion with the unfeeling, steely cage of synthetic sound. They fit so well though, and the cage is adorned with so many different ornaments that it’s easy to get lost in the reflective gloss of the music even as it portrays the dirty, destitute padded room of someone going through some true inner (and outer?) turmoil. Song after song a different limb is being blown off by a sonic landmine until you’re just a bloody torso propelled by explosions through the goal posts of failure. What you could call reprieves in the tracklist still act as siren songs toward certain doom, like “Mosquito In The Embroidery Room” which has a more serenely, melodically sung approach from Swope and atmosphere that’s nowhere near as busy, but still feels claustrophobic, like fingernails digging into your trachea.

Then you have a song like “Put Your Glasses On, Nothing Can Be Wrong” which sounds like it could have been a synthy metalcore smash hit a decade (or two) ago with cleaner, yet magnificently bothered vocals and distressed lyrics:

Everything is fleeting way too fast and I could barely hold on
Let alone make up for all the lost time
And I want to follow you so fucking bad
Because I know the silence will kill me in the end

When I tell you that this shit would ring the fuck off when I was a teen, I mean that with all the weight and potential cringe that implies. It’s a bit edgy and high on drama, indicative of a storm of emotions and hormones, but still very much based in very real pain that many of us are all too familiar with. Truly ZOMBIESHARK! are a name you could plaster the lyrics of as your status on AIM or your display name on MySpace to get your point across in the most heavy-handed yet also ‘dark and mysterious’ manner possible. If you can’t connect with it, I don’t know what to tell you, but it hits a deeply buried part of me.

To that end, maybe “RGB Gaming Guillotine” (what a title) is more your speed with its full send into breakbeat territory laced with hearty bass, speedy drums, and heat wave synthy work that’s one part Cyberpunk 2077, another part chiptune. That, “Bastard Spelled Backwards”,  “Does Barcode Man Believe In God?” and “Procedurally Generated Bear Traps” all excel in the abject maximalism that cybergrind is known for to great effect. There’s large deathcore-esque skeletons that the meat is draped around, especially on “Procedurally Generated Bear Traps”, but it’s all handled really well.

There’s 30 minutes and some change spread across 16 songs on Die Laughing. which should give you an idea on just how fast and merciless all the tracks are, but the culmination of it all comes with “Blue Mountain”, the closing track that wraps up this arc, pretty literally given the lyrics. It’s very apparent the person at the center of this album’s story is troubled – you can tell without a doubt that Swope dug deep to bring these performances out, especially on that last track, and hammered a lot of his own experience into the bumpy, bruised viscera that’s present on each of the other tracks too. You don’t make music or art like he does without going through some shit.

Die Laughing. is next level catharsis. While it’s not out of the ordinary for extreme music to channel these themes or instrumental approaches, the demanding nature (for both artist and listener) of cybergrind’s noise cavities, bludgeoning percussion, and sundering electronics gorilla grips your attention and activates something base and primal in you. You want to scream along, you want to jostle the walls around you, and kick a hole in the earth so it’ll cave in and take you, your peers, and everything you’ve ever loved. An acquired taste certainly, but kerosene-soaked ambrosia for those who can meet its sharp edges with your own. ZOMBIESHARK! has a might future ahead of them as long as they can channel that white-hot intensity into blistering, forward-thinking music.

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

"I came up and so could you, and fuck the boys in blue" - RMR

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