Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gripe-Pig Servant EP Review

Tommy Johnson: From the dark side of LA: gritty and shady, not some glamorized movie studio shit. 
Likes: Blast Beats, D-beats, Mince, and Powerviolence: Motorhead, Discharge and beer! Classic era The Simpsons, Star Wars (Pre -Prequels) Dr. Who, Slap-A-Ham 625, Pre RCA era Earache, Noise core, Japanese fast core, Metal that doesn’t rely on Pinch Harmonics, circle pits, stage dives and high fives, Bands that still write lyrics, Doom Metal, Black metal (Raw not epic), Death Metal (Autopsy not Black Dahlia Murder), crust punk and tons of other shit.
Dislikes: Slam Dancing, Ninja pits, Porno Grind (No you don’t understand, I really dislike porno Grind!), Emo violence, Tough Guy core, Death core, most types of core that are not Hardcore.

I will be contributing to Operation Grindcore with my column Deep Wounds. I’ll be focusing primarily on Mince, Crust, Fastcore, and foreign Grind/ Powerviolence bands, as well as digging up records that have seemingly been forgotten alongside obscure bands that are not given the coverage they deserve. In addition, I’ll also be checking out more modern acts that I am currently digging with an emphasis on bands on the more dirty and raw side of the Grind spectrum. That being said, here’s my first review!

When Gripe came out with their debut demo "The Future Doesn't Need You", it made serious waves in the underground. So much so that it managed to reach the far corners of the blogosphere, even catching the attention of Invisible Oranges. The scrappy, lo-fi, seriously pissed sounding grind violence fusion had an odd, captivating magic to it. Like a train wreck that you simply can’t look away from. It was far from perfect but was way more entertaining than most of the sterile, over-produced garbage that passes for modern grind now a days. It was spastic, frantic, at times off timed, under-produced, disorienting and overall had a weird claustrophobic quality to it. Going into this one I -like many- was expecting more of the same, but "Pig Servant" makes their demo sound like well... a demo. Gripe have stepped their game up, building on "The Future..." while retaining its fundamental essence. The surprisingly catchy song craft is still present, but more refined. Gripe set themselves apart from most DIY Grind bands today in this department in the sense that they actually make memorable songs while still preserving the all important (in my opinion) rough around the edges fuck you rawness that is and should be a staple of this genre. And I’m happy to report that the basketball dribbling, tin-can-snare drum production that I enjoyed from the demo is still there and still obnoxiously high in the mix. I think it gives an authentic live quality and just sounds so god damned aggressive. But you can actually hear the entire drum kit this time as well –this being a good thing, as I am a fucking drum geek, and there are plenty of BOSS ASS drum fills on this one. The guitar riffs are huge and frantic, mixing equal parts Sabbath and Jesse Pintado -"World Downfall"-era thrash style riffs and transitioning tempos with increasing ease. As for the vocals they are raw, pissed and slightly reminiscent of Dystopia or Decrepit. They fall more on the hardcore punk side than the traditional grind vocalist but judging by the lyrics I don’t think their new vocalist would be offended by that comment.

Now, their lyrics I should give praise to, because while the production and musicianship have both been stepped up significantly, so have the lyrics. While the riff is king in modern grind and lyrics are really just an afterthought, I still bother to read what bands are saying and commend those who actually have something to say. While typical punk/grind/hardcore lyric ethos are present (i.e. hatred of cops, capitalism, etc.), they give us their own fresh perspective on them. The song "Plea for Death" centers on the idea that a human being consumed by pain, on the edge of death has the right to end their own suffering and Gripe manage to convey the misery and pain of this situation perfectly.The darkness, and crustiness of this EP overall makes me think of 90's era grind/ powerviolence, which to me, is a nice return to form. Bringing to mind everything I love about that era of music without sounding too much like a rehash or throwback. It sounds at times like No comment in a street fight with Assuck! To me it’s what I want, and expect from a grind record: a balance between chaos and precision, a record that sounds like its barely holding itself together. (Spoiler Alert!) The Mickey Rourke sound bite at the beginning is the perfect way to kick off this beast of an EP. Plus the fake out ending sound clip on "False Prophet" was a bitching surprise. I honestly think "Pig Servant" could easily make it into any grind heads best of 2011 releases, landing in your top 5 if you’re more into the punk/hardcore side of grind, and busting into your top 10 if you’re more of a metal head type. Offering a little something for everybody without being a pander monkey, "Pig Servant" is another stellar fucking release for Gripe and so they will be ending this year 2 for 2.

 ~Tommy Johnson 

Listen/download here


  1. yes good review! and I indeed mentionned Pig servant as one of my favorite grind records for 2011...the music Gripe ofers really deseres it.

    and to know more about the band from the band itself, read this interview I just posted on Blasting days :