November 12, 2017

Noothgrush / Corrupted split

By Craig Hayes. Bandcamp is a fantastic resource for discovering, acquiring and sharing mountains of neck-wrecking music. However, for whatever reasons, loads of formidable metal and punk bands are still either virtually or entirely absent
By Craig Hayes.

Artwork by Hal Rotter.

Bandcamp is a fantastic resource for discovering, acquiring and sharing mountains of neck-wrecking music. However, for whatever reasons, loads of formidable metal and punk bands are still either virtually or entirely absent from Bandcamp’s pages. One of the best of that bunch was cult Japanese sludge legends Corrupted. But label 20 Buck Spin recently remedied that issue by reissuing the band’s long out-of-print split release with Oakland, California sludge titans Noothgrush.

Corrupted and Noothgrush’s self-titled split hit like a war hammer when it was first released in 1997, and it remains a significant release in the annals of genuinely misanthropic sludge to this day. Rather than give the split a polish before its re-release, 20 Buck Spin handed the collaboration over to studio wizard Brad Boatright. His remastering adds a “fresh layer of tar” and ensures the split’s corrosive potential is maximised. And Hal Rotter provides new and fittingly grim artwork for Corrupted and Noothgrush’s split as well.

If I’m being honest, while the split is certainly intimidating –– and arguably even iconic –– its arrival on Bandcamp is also just a great opportunity to finally wax lyrical about Corrupted right here on Metal Bandcamp. (And if any label wants to upload the rest of Corrupted’s releases to Bandcamp, I’d be eternally grateful.)

Corrupted are notable (as much as any deliberately reclusive and recalcitrant underground band can be) for a number of reasons. First, since forming in Osaka in 1994, the band have avoided media-friendly antics, and they’ve maintained an aura of hermitic mystery about their status to this day. Second, most of Corrupted’s lyrics have been sung in Spanish –– although, English, German, and Japanese turn up too. Third, the band hues closer to a second wave punk group than a metal band in aesthetic terms, which isn’t too surprising given sludge’s origin story or the sheer number of filthy punk-informed metal bands in Japan. And lastly, much of Corrupted’s extensive discography is found on split releases with a wide range of sludge, doom and grindcore bands.

Musically, Corrupted are often staggeringly heavy. And they're always toxic in tone too. The band remain steadfastly wretched, even when exploring more ethereal pathways. And like a lot of other Japanese metal and punk bands –– see Church of Misery, Funeral Moth, G.I.S.M., Framtid, Disclose, and innumerable others –– Corrupted cut right to (and then rip out and expose) the visceral heart of their chosen subgenre. The band’s ultra-slow and doom-fuelled sludge is threaded with drone’s deepest, darkest and most mesmeric minimalism. But Corrupted are also an inherently belligerent band only too happy to upend expectations and deliver delicate or quickfire songs.

Corrupted’s punishing sound is primarily constructed of distorted and down-tuned guitars, guttural growls, and layers of feedback framing megalith riffs on often epic-length tracks. The band’s 1999 album, Llenandose de gusanos, featured two songs: a 50-minute doom and dirge number followed by a 74-minute ambient crawl. 2005’s El mundo frío featured a single and surging 72-minute track. And alongside those releases, albums like 1997’s Paso Inferior and 2011’s Garten der Unbewusstheit (the band’s most creatively subtle work yet) highlight Corrupted’s astute understanding of how to increase the audio torture and tension while also providing a crucial cathartic purge.

That’s all there on the band’s split with Noothgrush as well. The release might be two decades old, but age hasn’t tempered the palpable sense of intense loathing and then emotional exorcism that both Noothgrush and Corrupted display. The three songs on their split provide consummate lessons in nihilism, antagonism, and abject fucking misery. In fact, the release makes it readily apparent that bands like Noothgrush and Corrupted clearly schooled plenty of today’s sludge and doom miscreants in how to crush listeners in both psychological and musical terms.

Noothgrush sculpts a harsh, uninviting scene on opener “Hatred for the Species”. The track’s an animosity-filled haven for sonic masochists, but Noothgrush have no problem upping the ante with 14 minutes of “doomed psychosis” on the mind-mangling follow-up “Draize”.

Corrupted provide the split’s final 15-minute track, “Inactive”, which sees them dragging throat-slit barks and undulating sludge across a hypnotic hellscape. The track’s steadily grinding cadence pushes the raw and slow-baked sludge forward throughout. And if you’re a fan of the pioneering muck and murder of bands like Dystopia or Grief, then there’s a lot to love (in a very unhealthy way, of course) right here.

As the blurb on the Bandcamp page for Noothgrush and Corrupted’s uncompromising release points out, ‘doom metal’ means many things to many people nowadays. There's no question that the split is the antithesis of the kind of hip sludge and doom that wields “upbeat warm waves of ‘stoner’ riffs” made by bands wearing their “top dollar vintage tees”. Noothgrush and Corrupted deal in hatred, not hugs, and their split is a firm reminder of a time when underground sludge and doom combined a genuine sense of emotional devastation with withering levels of malice.

Post a Comment: