Hemorage – Pariah – Album Review
Is it possibly a case of the most extreme misspelling of a band’s name, clever wordplay – or this there some sort of hidden reference to ‘Hemo Rage’ – which is apparently like, some sort of juice-monkey supplement. You know…the ‘not-steroids-but-oh-so-totally-steroids’ kinda stuff. After a listen or two through the album…I pretty much feel like a case could be made for either of these situations.
While my experience with Pariah left me feeling at times that there was something missing from the Hemorage wall-of-sound mix & intensity, there was still some redemption to be had…hell – there was a full album to come and even a comic book to accompany the music! Something about the way “Stay Away” sounded as an opener…there’s a distinct-flatness that’s coming into the mix as well…one that I’d assume is coming from an over-compression aspect…you can hear it almost go away entirely as “For Your Life” follows and brightens up in the mix immediately. But as a guy that loves the potentially reckless & chaotic nature of a Grindcore band like this…to hear some of those natural squeals & pops from the music zapped-out on the first-cut made me a bit worried for a moment. After repeated listens…it seemed to mostly affect the sound of “Stay Away” and not nearly as much as the rest and everything ended up sounding much better thereafter.
Cause there’s some wicked-ass guitars and drums happening in this band…and Hemorage certainly has a lead-singer/screamer in Jon Orc that has the brass-balls needed to make this all sound convincing over the mic…and mixing Grindcore/metal-music of any kind can be a massive challenge. I just spent about 3 or 4 months recording with a local Grindcore band here from BC – Pest Synapse – and I won’t lie to ya…we had a hell of a time trying to get that three-piece to sit in all the right places in the mix…I can tell you firsthand that Joel Grimble would not have had an easy time with Hemorage – but again, it seems as if the issue of flatness is immediately resolved as the album quickly progresses into ragers like “For Your Life” and the amped-up, in-your-face anthem of “Fuck It.”
Of course to get to the bass-led groove & grind of “Fuck It” – you first gotta get a little puke going-on…otherwise what’s this experience all about anyway? “Don’t Trow Up On Me” is one of several skits on this record…a classic-move in a young, expanding-genre already becoming a standard out there for several similar sounds to break up the constant-chaos. Solid instrumental thrashing solos on the guitars & drums before ripping into the massiveness of the chorus once again – “Fuck It” pounds and pounds and pounds with the full-force of Hemorage right there up in your grill. Followed by my favourite skit on the record, “Deep In The Catacombs” – a robotic, 50’s-television-style voice introduces the quick story on the album’s moniker before launching into the title-track, “Pariah” directly.
What I found really impressive in the Grindcore-genre in general was that…well…as a word-guy myself – I found it completely interesting to follow along with the lyrics of Hemorage and listen at the same time. I grew up in the grunge-era…and believe me – we KNOW angst…or at least, I kinda thought we did until I realized just what a toilet-bowlful-of-shit that the Grindcore world seems to believe they’re trapped in. Truly…if us grungers felt alienated, we really just made a shitload of noise and found a corner to pout in; Grindcore is nothing like that…they’ll tell you exactly how they’re feeling and then proceed to light the world on fire. Some people just want to watch the world burn, as they say…and Grindcore bands certainly seem to be comfortable with that idea and creating the intensity of a blazing forest-fire in these constantly building & raging sounds they make. With Hemorage…it would seem they’re not content with only watching the world burn – they want to be the fuel to that fire and be responsible for the snap, crackle & pop of us all. But it’s not just the mood/atmosphere of the lyrics – it’s also completely the actual SOUND of the words – the search for the consistency in the low-growls really changes the way the words sound…and it actually becomes pretty trippy to read these words when what you’re hearing typically won’t often resemble how you remember these words sounding.
“Pariah” as a song…is fucking HUGE. Solidly-defined guitar-lines keep this one just colored-in barely between the lines, but this all adds up to one big & beefy song. Big fan of the way the beat this one up relentlessly, and a take a second or two every once in a while to let the notes ring-out, right before storming back into the song. The ending of “Pariah” is a riot-inducer for sure…this is the very anthem of blood & broken Budweiser bottles everywhere you’d turn at a live show…you can picture the chaos this band could quite easily potentially create. But that’s a GOOD thing in my books; I’m not saying go out and burn down whatever’s left of your local library…but I AM saying that music that actually moves you in any way, shape or form is a damn good thing. Sure as hell means you’re not boring.
I can admit that I was a little disappointed in “SBD.” Not for any reason other than my own immaturity; I truly thought/hoped for a moment they had dedicated an entire song to the iconic fart we all let squeak from the cheeks every boardroom meeting. But of course…here we go…more insight, more aired-grievances with the state of the world and trying to subtly (lol) educate us even more…THANKS…thanks a lot guys.
“Begging For Mercy” was absolutely one of my favourite tracks on this record. Hemorage brought-up the guitars in this one just slightly…everything is a lot more defined in the opening and it sounds spectacular as it begins. Humberto Escobar (what, no esquire?) is a straight-up filthy BEAST on the drums – and this guy leaves nothing behind on the beat-down that becomes “Begging For Mercy.” A standout for just about every reason from vocals, to music & production – this is definitely some of the best from Hemorage as it heads towards the final-third of the record. But not before a quick-stop into another brilliant skit called “Elitist” which…well…it…hmmm…how do I say this…
…it’s a solid reflection of just about everyone I’ve met that ‘listens’ to music, like, ever. And yeah…in a way, it’s pointing out the obvious…but honestly I want to freakin HUG this band for making this skit REAL and an accurate reflection of the general decision-making process that’s currently out there. Quite honestly…even though it’s less than thirty-seconds long – Hemorage makes one of the best points on the record with “Elitist” and pretty much tells you all how it IS out there right now in the music-scene.
“Domination” is the second-longest tune on the Pariah record and once again adds the thrash, crash and chaos combo from the left to the right as you try to absorb these audio-punches to the face and survive them. Excellent use of space in this one believe it or not…I mean…it’s not like you’ll experience anything dead or silence by any means…but they’ve managed to spread this one out a little more; it brings a little more definition to the music. Wicked drums from the humble-beast Humberto Escobar pound the living-shit out of the skins…and the screaming anthem-style chorus would definitely be another one to ignite the crowd…and so too, potentially the building they’re all standing in. Solid breakdown in this tune…love the way that “Domination” deconstructs itself to create its ending.
Okay…that point I was making about the SOUND of the words…I mean…LISTEN to “Hemorage Blessing” – there is NO WAY you knew what he was saying without the words in front of you! No freakin way! Of course, once you read them…it’s easy to tune your ears to the rest…it all starts to become clear as bell…being rung over your head direct and hit with a sledgehammer…NBD. Though I’m nearly never a fan of self-shout-out anthems with the band-names being a lyrical focus…I actually thought the way they rock this one in the chorus sounded pretty damn good…gotta call it like I hear it.
“Guitar Central Special Promo” – is another massively important skit to hear. I can’t accept that they don’t know just how crucial these points they’re making are…even if the attitude is one of ‘I don’t give a fuckin-fuck’ – these words are being spoken, record and put out there for you to absorb. For some of you – these things pointed out by Hemorage should HURT – other people intensely involved in the music-scene like myself are much more likely to STILL be hurt – cause there’s a TRUTH being spoken here, but we also agree with every damn word. I was honestly surprised to get to the Bandcamp page to find that these were some of the only words not written there for us on the page – many people out there need to hear these, see these, absorb these…and get them tattooed straight onto their foreheads.
“Reconstruction From Self-Destruction” puts Hemorage back into their comfort-zone of uncomforting, blazing Grindcore before it heads into what becomes the most monstrous-epic on the new record – the twelve-minute-plus-long “Never Forget.” As much as I liked “Reconstruction From Self-Destruction” – in between the last skit and this huge finale…it had the toughest spot on the record to truly standout. BUT…if the trade to make for that is getting something as inventive as “Never Forget” in return – I’d make that trade every single time. Some song had to go in that spot anyhow!
“Never Forget” is a real exception to this entire genre though…and I think it puts the true-skill of this band in an intense spotlight unlike any other on the Pariah record. Bands of this style, sound and genres do NOT attempt songs of this length…hell, in many cases they don’t even put out entire records that equal the length of this final song! There’s a reason that they don’t…if you hear what goes into a typical Grindcore track of any kind…you know that twelve-minutes of that could potentially KILL any drummer involved and render the screaming vocalist entirely silent by the end; the physical-demands on playing a song like “Never Forget” are vastly unexplored in music-journalism…you’d be more likely to find a comment on these epic physical-feats in Men’s Health magazine. Perhaps in the Hemo Rage section.
And yeah…OKAY…I get it…”Never Forget” also has a big-break and kinda splits itself in two…you’re totally right smart-guy…how in the world did the music-reviewer ever not notice that? Yawn. To which I’d also say – alright fine…go out and play yourself a seven-minute part of a two-part Grindcore track like this, and we’ll call the paramedics for you…cause you STILL wouldn’t likely make it out alive. Hemorage is built of athletics just as much as they are music…you gotta be lean to be this mean and truly grind it out like this on Pariah.
I know I’ve gone on a long time…but that’s to prove my own point as well. The widespread belief within Hemorage tells us that they don’t believe too many people give an actual quality-shit (like the satisfaction in the morning deuce) about music – and I DO. So yeah…I’ve got lots to say. They’ve put in a massive amount of effort here into their music and it paid off. The comic-book that accompanies the music, is brilliantly illustrated by their bandmate Bona Pak and story written by Jon Orc really fits well with the music…all in classic black & white…again, perhaps to further illustrate the points they’re making. But don’t PANIC people…there’s about a collective 100-words or so throughout its 28-pages…they’re not asking you to pick up a novel – they’re creating art…real art…in combination with music…a true-staple of what we look for in music out there through what we do here at sleepingbagstudios. And if you’re a fan of extreme music, extreme opinions and sounds that declare a third world-war on your very eardrums and brain-holes…honestly, don’t miss out on Pariah – you’ll either dig it, or it’ll potentially dig you…a new grave.
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