Label: Relapse Records
Blockheads is a grindcore band hailing from France that have been punishing ears since 1992, going through more than ‘a few’ line-up changes, yet never letting them hinder their climb up record labels and festivals. Right now, the band consists of Xavier (vocals), Fred (guitar, vocals), Erik (bass, vocals) and Nico (drums, vocals) and the guys are clearly influenced by the likes of Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror and Phobia.
However, unlike the last two, the production is pretty clean here, and the association between clean and grindcore usually makes for a negative: this is not the case here.
The clarity of the instrumentation does nothing but compliment the creativeness of band; especially the guitar and drums. As you’d expect with a grindcore band, you get blitzed by blastbeats and face-melting riffs, but like Wormrot, you can easily make out the chords which makes each track a lot easier to identify – the vital attention to detail is there. Plus, as (again) you’d expect with a grindcore band, the songs are pretty short, so nothing feels dragged out or monotonous.
Opening track, Deindividualized, starts with this crunchy, doomy guitar played as feedback rises in the mix, leading to an explosion of blastbeats – yet the riffs that kick in are so punchy and big it’s near impossible to stop yourself swinging with it. Final Rise is a blistering track that features alternating vocals between the main early Napalm Death-esque throaty roars, manic yells and then screams alightly similar to Richard Johnson’s. It also has such a dark, crushing mid-pace groove that’s just unbelievably crushing!
All These Dreams… has a a section where the guitar locks into sharp stabs as the cymbal goes steadily, while the drums utilize shots of “rat-at-tat-tat-tat” and then just switching back into the riff that played beforehand with a growl extending over the top… it’s just beautiful. Be A Thorn To Power is an unstoppable train of exciting drum fills, blastbeats, crust-influenced riffs and just an overall heavy sound.
The track Pro-Lifers has a more hardcore influence, the band starting at a slow, chugging pace with roaring vocals raging through with “Scorned / Rejected / Child beaten to death / Rather be unborn”, until the blistering grindcore phase kicks in. It is perhaps the last track, Trail Of The Dead, that sticks out the most though, not just by its length (at 7.19 minutes) but with the complete sludge/doom metal style of it, which is pulled off impeccably.
The album is a constant stream of angst delivered in a refreshing way. It’s fast, it’s heavy and it’s uncompromising… it is simply grindcore, but there’s not been an album as memorable and exciting as this for years in the genre (maybe with exception to Pig Destroyer’s releases). Each track holds its own, never feeling like a simple blur of something you heard before. The musicianship leaves such an impression on you, Nico on drums with his innovative fills and blasts.
“The World Is Dead” is just one of those albums you need to listen to, it’s an experience, and as soon as it ends you’ll find yourself starting it all over again. With this release Blockheads might have the rest of the genre quaking in their boots.
An absolute must for any grindcore fan.
Favourite tracks: Be a Thorn to Power, Look Down, Take Your Pills, Follow The Bombs.