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Agoraphobic Nosebleed - "Agorapocalypse" (CD)

Agoraphobic Nosebleed - "Agorapocalypse" CD cover image

"Agorapocalypse" track listing:

1. Agorapocalypse Now (2:26)
2. Timelord One (Loneliness Of The Long Distance Drug Runner) (0:56)
3. Dick To Mouth Resuscitation (1:16)
4. Moral Distortion (2:00)
5. Hung From The Rising Sun (2:10)
6. National Stem Cell And Clone (3:19)
7. Question Of Integrity (2:29)
8. Timelord Two (Paradoxical Reaction) (3:03)
9. Trauma Queen (1:51)
10. White On White Crime (3:19)
11. Druggernaut Jug Fuck (2:23)
12. Ex-Cop (0:59)
13. Flamingo Snuff (2:20)

Reviewed by on August 1, 2009

"With 'Agorapocalypse,' Agoraphobic Nosebleed has provided the best grind album of the year so far..."

Agoraphobic Nosebleed has been a staple of the grindcore scene since their early beginnings in 1994. While it would take almost a decade for the band to play their first live set, they became infamous for their use of a drum machine and 2003’s “Altered States Of America,” a collection of 100 songs that barely grazed past the 20-minute mark. After six years, the Massachusetts grinders have returned with “Agorapocalypse,” a diverse and sharply focused take on their old sound. The grindcore is still prevalent, but the influence of hardcore has weaved its way into Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s musical repertoire, giving songs a structure and balance that is a far cry from the wonderfully chaotic mess of the past.

To call this a “maturing” of their sound would be a hasty judgment. “Agorapocalypse” still has that trademark Agoraphobic humor and destructive behavior that made songs like “Drive-By Blowjob On A Bicycle” and “Filthy Murder Shack” so hard to resist. This time around, not only is their sound more diversified, but the band brought Salome vocalist Katherine Katz on-board to bring the total number of vocalists to three. The trio, which also includes Jay Randall and Richard Johnson, trade off vocal lines and spar with each other like a stable of lunatics. Having so many voices going off in maddening directions is one of the highlights of the album.

Some grind fans may scoff at Agoraphobic Nosebleed showing more restraint throughout the album, but that just makes the aggressive moments stand out even more. The first four songs blow by with the destructive force of a category five hurricane. “Agorapocalypse Now” is an explosive opener guaranteed to floor the listener with a wall of sound and great clean vocals, mixed with chaotic guitar work from Scott Hull. “Timelord One (Loneliness of the Long Distance Drug Runner)” is a pure minute of uncontrollable madness. “Dick To Mouth Resuscitation” is a hilarious and heartwarming tale of blowjobs and choking on the male reproductive organ. “Moral Distortion” is led by the shrieking vocals of Katz and flies by with little room to catch a deep breathe.

“Hung From The Rising Sun” is the first indication of Agoraphobic Nosebleed opening up a bit and slowing down the proceedings a smidgen, agonizing the listener with taunts of a return to insanity. The brutality level is still in the upper levels throughout these instances of expansion. “White on White Crime" and “First National Stem Cell and Clone” are different beasts in their own right, with a slight groove to them that is much catchier than it has any right to be. The band takes a few chances, not satisfied with putting out a collection of quick, speedy tunes that blaze by with no distinguishable traits.

Agoraphobic Nosebleed made a wise decision in ending “Agorapocalypse” with a triple dose of grind goodness, as “Druggernaut Jug Fuck,” “Ex-Cop” and “Flamingo Stuff” is a combined six-plus minutes of a throwback to the glory days of old. By the time the band fades in the sunset, playing what seems to be for eternity, 28 short minutes have flown by and the only reaction will probably be to hit the repeat button and start the visceral punishment again.

While the guitar and bass work is varied and full of strong riffs, the drum programming deserves special mention. Hull knows how to make the percussion sound believable, and those who didn’t know about Agoraphobic Nosebleed couldn’t tell it was programmed. It takes a lot of balls to have an extended drum solo in any song, let alone a grind song, but Hull pulls it off on “Question Of Integrity” and shows everybody how a drum machine should be used.

With “Agorapocalypse,” Agoraphobic Nosebleed has provided the best grind album of the year so far, just barely beating out Insect Warfare's re-issued debut album "World Extermination" and Brutal Truth's "Evolution Through Revolution." What makes “Agorapocalypse” such a phenomenal album is the fact that the band isn’t afraid to push limits, breaking the mold and not content to sticking to the one-minute lengths of most of their contemporaries.

Keeping the album to 13 tracks was also a smart decision, as any more would have drained the listener to a point of sheer exhaustion. Agoraphobic Nosebleed is all business, wasting no time in kicking ass and leaving in a dust cloud of burnt human remains. While there is still a few months left in 2009, it will be very hard to find another album in the genre that can stand up to the mesmerizing “Agorapocalypse.”

Highs: Brutal opener in “Agorapocalypse Now,” full of variety, drum programming is fantastic, the use of three vocalist sound perfectly natural.

Lows: "Trauma Queen" is a little bland, compared to the rest of the material.

Bottom line: A breath-taking experience that is easily one of the best grind albums of the year.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)