Cover Photo: Jena Pups
In 1919, 12,000 tons of molasses from a burst storage tank flooded the streets of Boston, killing 21 and injuring 150. The same thick, slow danger is what one encounters on Escuela Grind’s new EP,
With 5 songs clocking in at around 4 minutes, this album is a fist, each song a gnarled, grimy finger, calloused from all these knuckledragging riffs. Although Escuela Grind have always released premium grindviolence, this release is a departure. With OSDM dominating much of the metal circuit these days, Escuela Grind may be ushering in a movement for OSPV because this is a return to form for powerviolence, an EP that sounds like it could have been released by an early Chris Dodge or Eric Wood outfit.
Tongue firmly in cheek, track one, “Vanilla Ice,” is full of gang vocals, with every member of Escuela Grind sharing mic duties, collaborating on the brutal chant: “Vanilla Ice! Under Pressure!” And the pressure is real on this one, as these bottom-four fret riffs, guttural vocals, and trudging tempo all make it feel as though the oxygen has been sucked out of the room and we’re crawling to the escape hatch. This will be one to watch live, as a whole audience of Neanderthals shouting “Vanilla Ice” deserves to be on any powerviolence fan’s bucket list.
On “Misrepresented” and “Eradicated,” the pace quickens, alternating between sprinting circle-pit and “walk faster; you’re being followed” tempos. The anger is real on these two, with the voices of Katerina, Jesse, Kris, and Jason merging into one furious cacophony, until all the fury breaks down into a groovy, heavy riff that is surprisingly danceable. The riffs are memorable morsels, trimmed to the essentials and never moving above the fifth fret. Everything is low and molasses-dense, so you constantly feel a downward tug, rooting you, submerging you, burying you.
“Spite the Face” features some of the most drastic tempo shifts on the EP, with breakneck grinding giving way to tense, stuttering, palm-muting. The slow parts on this song and on the final track, “Rat’s Nest,” are where one devolves, with back hunching and jaw jutting. These are caveman riffs, punctuated by the grind that is Escuela Grind’s bread and butter as well as, following a 2019 name change, their namesake. These prehistoric rhythms slow and disappear into a chorus of feedback that is not an end, but a transition.
Although PPOOWWEERRVVIIOOLLEENNCCEE is fully realized on its own as an exceptional EP, perhaps the best thing about it is that it is not a lone release. Instead, Escuela Grind are embarking on the brilliant and ambitious project of releasing four EPs this year as a lead up to their next LP (Do these folks ever sleep?). An alternate- or sub-title for this EP is An Ode To Tradition, Vol. 1, and after listening to this very short album more times in these early days of January than I did to most albums all of last year, I can’t wait to see what these grind dynamos produce next.
After treating yourself to the wonders of this release, check out Escuela Grind on their current tour and keep an eye out for upcoming U.S. and Euro tours. Also, if you’re in one of these neighborhoods, check them out on the stacked bills of Northwest Terror Fest and Obscene Extreme Fest.