It seems like the longer I write about music, the more I come to appreciate the truly thought-provoking bands. I mention this up front because I realize that the headline on this article says that it’s supposed to be a premiere of the song “Bestial Sodomizers” by Pink Mass. I’ll get to that, but first I hope you’re willing to indulge me for a brief digression. I ended up having quite a few thoughts after spending a bit of time with the band’s forthcoming album Necrosexual.
And if you’re the impatient type, feel free to just scroll down to the bottom of the page and get right to the grinding madness…
Hypothesis: grindcore, more than any other extreme metal genre, thrives on shock value.
I can already hear the objections forming from certain segments of our readership, so let me try to nip a few of those up front:
- Cannibal Corpse are about to drop album number fourteen – no one’s still getting offended by their lyrics except the normies (unless you’re one of those “Barnes-era only” types who’s outraged that they quit doing the violently misogynistic stuff - and if you are, then I don’t know what to tell you…). It’s the same thing with the cover to Cattle Decapitation’s Humanure. Twenty Øne Pilots fans might look at it and want to vomit, but they’re fucking Twenty Øne Pilots fans – any reaction they have to anything is immediately suspect. The rest of us think that cover is hella rad.
- Black metal has its moments, but so much of what made it shocking has become so commonplace that the majority of musicians attempting to be ‘shocking’ usually just come across like tryhards. See: Frost’s “performance art” scene in Until the Light Takes Us. The art gallery crowd watching the “performance” certainly react like it’s something upsetting and/or horrifying, but most black metal people I know find it to be sad more than anything else. See also: anything Shining frontman Niklas Kvarforth has done…well, ever.
- GWAR is entirely too much fun to truly be offensive.
With grind, though, it seems like bands are still actively pushing against whatever boundaries they can find, both musically and lyrically: shorter song lengths, higher BPMs, shittier/more abrasive production, juvenile/toilet humor lyrics, graphically violent cover art that frequently uses real photos…
In other words, it’s probably safe to say that grindcore is never going to break into the mainstream.
Sometimes, though, grind’s ‘shock-and-appall’ reputation ends up working against it. For example, Cloud Rat’s Madison Marshall writes smart, highly poetic lyrics about gender politics and animal rights, among other things. Both her band and her songwriting voice deserve a much larger audience, but their genre likely makes that more of a challenge.
And then there are bands like New Jersey’s Pink Mass. It would be very easy to file them away as one of those purely shock value types of grind bands.
Exhibit A - the explanation of the band’s name, as taken from the press kit that accompanied the promo of their upcoming album Necrosexual:
A “Pink Mass” is a Satanic ritual performed after death that turns the deceased’s heterosexual spirit into a homosexual one.
Exhibit B – the accompanying press photo:
However, I contend that writing them off as such would be a mistake. There’s something far more nuanced going on here than what surface appearances might indicate. Sure, their overall image might be a tad…um…provocative, and their lyrical mix of Satanism, hedonism, sadomasochism, and necrophilia could seem slightly cartoonish to some. And I’m not even going to get started on the band members’ aliases. But I also think that they’re addressing gender norms and sexual mores in a remarkably forward-thinking way. Their approach may be unconventional, but the underlying message of nonconformity and self-empowerment is still there for those who want to look for it.
Still, if having a strong message were all it took to make a band’s music worthwhile, people wouldn’t have been so upset when that U2 album showed up uninvited on everyone’s iTunes a couple of years back. Ultimately, Necrosexual is a grind album, which means that there are certain filthy standards it needs to uphold.
Consider them not only met, but exceeded. This isn’t some $2 well shot of rotgut, oh no – Pink Mass bring the top shelf shit.
While it would be tempting to play ‘spot the influences’ with their sound (with Repulsion likely at or near the top of that list), it’s actually far more satisfying to sit back and appreciate how well those influences cohere on Necrosexual. On “Bestial Sodomizers,” which we’re premiering below, they show more of their death metal side with an opening riff straight out of early Incantation before taking a punkish turn leading into its second half. The production is raw without sounding cavernous, and vocalist Tyrant Perversor’s growls and shrieks are perfectly placed in the mix.
When asked to describe the track, the band offered:
“Bestial Sodomizers” is a manifestation of the hedonistic savagery the collective of Pink Mass has set out to create, a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah. Sex only for pleasure, not for reproduction. A hymn for the decimation of Christ’s false purity of sex and marriage. Necrosexuals shall forever reign!
Necrosexual will be available on October 31. Keep an eye on the Pink Mass Bandcamp page for preorder info.