Film Review: Slave To The Grind (2018, Doug Brown)

Posted on by Paul in Movies | Leave a comment

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Grindcore. If you’re a fan, you understand the music’s visceral appeal – everything as fast and heavy as possible, or as grind masters Brutal Truth once put it in the intro to 1997’s Sounds Of The Animal Kingdom, “Still not loud enough, still not fast enough.” If you’re not a fan, you might be curious what the hell all this noise is about and what exactly the appeal is. If you fall into either category, Toronto filmmaker Doug Brown’s Slave To The Grind is definitely worth your time.

Taken from footage shot over the last few years, Slave To The Grind is an entertaining and informative look at the origins and development of grindcore (a fusion of metal and punk) from the early days of originators Napalm Death and Repulsion to the beginnings of subgenres like goregrind and mincecore and on into the current state of grind.

The film features many notable figures in the genre, with the likes of Repulsion’s Scott Carlson, Earache Records founder Digby Pearson, Mel Mongeon and Topon Das of Fuck The Facts and the members of Agathocles all making memorable appearances throughout. It’s often the drummers though who make for the most entertaining interviewees, with Brutal Truth/Total Fucking Destruction’s Rich Hoak, AxCx’s Tim Morse, Terrorizer/Morbid Angel drummer Pete Sandoval and Dave Witte (who’s played in too many bands to mention here) coming up with some of the more memorable moments – not surprising when you consider the importance of drums and the blastbeat in particular to grindcore. And though he’s not interviewed in the film, a special mention must go out to Repulsion drummer Dave Hollingshead who, as Carlson explains, the band discovered after reading an article about him and some others being caught robbing graves. That’s pretty metal.

While I’m sure some grind aficionados might complain that certain bands or elements of the genre may have been overlooked or underrepresented, the film delivers a very thorough and entertaining look at the genre. And if you’re still jonesing for a deeper dive into grindcore lore (grindlore?), Brown did mention in the post-film Q&A at the Toronto screening that there was something like 1000 plus hours of footage shot so I’m sure that when the DVD is eventually released, there will be much more to discover.

Slave To The Grind will be going on a bit of a world tour over the next couple of months, Check it out if it’s playing in your city.

Concert Review: The Gaslight Anthem, August 9, Rebel

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

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After a quartet of songs to start off the night, The Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon addressed the crowd, focusing his attention on a very specific subsection of the crowd – the VIP area to the side of the stage. “What did you do to get put over there?” he asked them. “What are you, over 40? You look young – why are you sitting down?” After a couple more jokes about bottle service and security not being needed for that crowd, Fallon returned his attention to the show and to the rest of the packed house at Rebel with a simple “Alright here it goes. A bunch of songs.” And with that understated introduction, the band launched into “Great Expectations,” the first track off of The ’59 Sound.

It’s become all too commonplace over the past several years for bands to tour behind a classic album and though some may question the deep dive into nostalgia, it’s a good reason for a band to go out on tour without having to have a brand new release to promote and it’s certainly a popular move with the fans. And while I’m sure most of the devoted Gaslight Anthem fans in attendance would be happy to see the band perform any one of their albums in its entirety (OK, probably not Get Hurt), their sophomore album, with its punk-goes-Springsteen vibe and use of retro ’50s imagery, was their breakthrough and is the one that makes the most sense to get the track-by-track performance tour.

If by chance The ’59 Sound is not your favourite though, the band still played plenty of other songs from throughout their career (but no requests please), bringing out opener Matt Mays near the end of the set to join them for “National Anthem” before closing things off with “We’re Getting A Divorce, You Keep The Diner” and “American Slang.” No encore though, because as Fallon so eloquently put it, encores are stupid. Amen.

Song of the Day: Israel Nash, Rolling On

Posted on by Gary in Song of the Day | Leave a comment

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I remember 2013’s Rain Plans like it was yesterday.

No, really. While I listen to it quite frequently, it had also made me erroneously peg Israel Nash as a gritty, melancholy country songwriter. And I haven’t touched country since I said good-riddance to braces/dentists in high-school. But in reality since Rain Plans, he has put out an expansive album with Silver Season, shifting more towards a more open form of Americana.

From the opening moments of “Rolling On” from Nash’s new album Lifted, all I hear is optimism. It paints an expansive ambiance and slowly drapes that landscape with strings of hope like multiple bunches of wisteria. Incidentally, that comparison is apt because the same chorus is its only vehicle besides the guitar highlights at the very end. It is really very soothing. But then again, when I listened a third time a portmanteau of “Take My Breath Away” (Berlin) and “I Will Follow Him” (Little Peggy March) materialized. Now I can’t get those 5 notes out of my head to keep rolling on. Damn it, where has all the optimism gone?

Song of the Day: Tony Molina, Nothing I Can Say

Posted on by Gary in Song of the Day | Leave a comment

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If brevity is the soul of wit, then the extremely brief album Kill the Lights from Tony Molina might be the wittiest kid on the block. At once fulfilling yet incomplete by design, it doesn’t just leave you wanting more folksy harmonies and miniature refrains, it positively asks you to look for more – like a purposeful intro to a long Pandora session.

“Nothing I Can Say”, the first of 10 minute-long Lego® Folk-Songs® (they even managed to include fade outs on several songs), is likely the most ear-catching. The only issue is that with so little timing separation, I find it difficult to manage the emotional feedback cycle. At the point when the jangling guitars return upon “Give He Take You”, I had over-shot and under-shot the tunes 6 times and became stuck on somewhat ambivalent, even though the music itself is well-crafted. So, it’s a nice experiment. But I would disperse them into your playlist and listen individually for best effects.