November 8, 2013

Beaten to Death - Dødsfest!

Written by Matt Hinch.

Norway's Beaten to Death burst onto the scene back in 2011 with Xes and Strokes. That album came out of nowhere like a pillowcase full of bricks at a teenage slumber party. They wasted no time and released a live DVD titled At Rockefeller in 2012. I've only heard the recording but B2D were as tight as you'd expect from a band that records 100% live. Apparently the fire was still burning hot enough for these grindcore planet smashers to bring us a new ode to awesomeness in Dødsfest!

As with Xes and Strokes, Beaten to Death take less than 20 minutes to grind your eardrums into a bloody pulp. The guilty parties of Martin Rygge and Tommy Hjelm (guitars. also of Insense), bassist Mika Martinussen, drummer Christian Svendson (Tsjuder) and She Said Destroy vocalist Anders Bakke take every iota of frustration and expunge it with reckless abandon.

Not a moment goes by where at least one element of this construction isn't defining extreme. Okay, maybe the funky bit in “Obliteration of Nekromantheon”. Even that gets the funk out in a hurry. That's the way it is with Dødsfest!. Nothing sits around long enough to get comfortable. B2D are constantly shifting from tire burning grind to intricate melodies and crushing and sludgy doom passages.

As mentioned, there's always a measure of intensity. At least one member is always going completely off the rails in some respect. If it's not Bakke's Travis Ryan-level vocal gymnastics, it's usually Svendson's flattening percussive madness. Dude can lay down some serious blasts, and his double-kick work in “Vinni Butterfly” is just one of enough “Holy Fuck!!” moments to pop a nun's cherry. Another being Mika's growling bass on “Krepsekamp”. So gnarly.

“True Norwegian Internet Metal Warrior” features not only some of the most heavy hitting downstrokes from Rygge and Hjelm but also some of their best guitar interplay as well. Not to mention how that title shows off the band's sense of humour. (“The Flesh Prince With Swell Hair” anyone?)

Dødsfest! is the kind of record in which the listener is forced to be active in the experience. Passivity is not an option. The rousing choruses of “Dov, Dovere, Dod” and “The Egg Thrower” connect with that emotional core and pull out the compulsion to scream along with unstoppable force. Beyond the vocal level, B2D inject enough groove to get the head moving (“Aspen Hellweek”) if you're not already actively looking for targets to slam your body against.

Enough can't be said of Dødsfest!'s intensity. Knowing it was recorded live in the band's rehearsal space no doubt adds to that feeling. It's grind as fuck yet kept in check (sort of) by those ever-sweet melodies and moments of monolithic riffs. An electric energy powers their high octane grindcore. Monstrous tone, fantastic drumming and one of the most engaging and diverse vocals performances to be heard this year mesh with dynamic songwriting and tight playing to make the tracklist of Dødsfest! one knockout punch after another. Learn to bob and weave, son, or you'll find yourself on your ass.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

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