Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Squash Bowels - Grindvirus (2009)

Poland is another heartland for grinders of the gorier persuasion, and Squash Bowels have proven one of the more enduring of their carnal connoisseurs, with 25 years experience and a long laundry list of pulverizing splits and albums. Plus they've just got one of those band names that sticks out to you, probably for all the bad reasons, because who hasn't felt this way about their digestive system after catching a stomach flu or eating some very, very wrong?! It's a bit of a surprise, considering their name, that a lot of their lyric focus in the past hasn't necessarily been all that gross, but their 2009 effort Grindvirus definitely has a slight waft of scatological violence about it, although not attaining the stench levels that many of their peers do on a regular basis.

It's hard not to label this Napalm Death worship, because really they just have so much in common with those British Godfathers of grind that you could interchange a lot of their riffs and vocal patterns and not know the difference, especially from the period around Death by Manipulation, Harmony Corruption or Utopia Banished. Perhaps not a direct clone, because there are a few differences, like the meatier production used by Squash Bowels, and a guttural vocal that has a little more personality than Barney's muffled roars. They also do some slower groove parts that almost sound like nu metal (as in the parts of "D.I."), primarily because of how those riffs are paced with the lower tuning. But when they're belting out one of those downtrodden, brutal fast riffs they sound exceedingly close to the source of their genre, and to me that was one of the limitations. I can't pick out a single riff on this entire album that was remotely interesting or unique, they're all par for the course, no matter how much of a thick, crushing production they are given as they repeatedly pummel the fuck out of your ears.

Maybe the issue is that my expectations are too high for this style? I mean I hear a group like fellow Poles Antigama, who keep their riffs quite compelling and establish a unique mood for the genre, or even Nasum, who succeeded by tossing a healthy heaping of catchy d-beat Swedish death metal into their grind-matrix...and I'm on board. But here on Grindvirus there just isn't anything a lot by which I can distinguish them. Don't mistake me, the production here is quite good, the energy is obvious, and they have a lot of the veteran hallmarks, even some pretty cool cover artwork. This is even put out here through Willowtip Records. I'm sure folks over at the Euro festivals can mosh the shit out of this material, but all I get here is 28 minutes of battery that doesn't really endure even in the midst of experiencing it.

Verdict: Indifference [6.25/10]

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