Fill in the blank with your favorite adjective: “We are living in ________ times.” I wonder how many different iterations of this statement I read last month, the longest March in recorded history. True, these are “desperate” times; anyone within earshot of a cable news broadcast could tell you that. “Perilous,” for certain, but to plagiarize Timothy too long is dangerous in and of itself. Go ahead and play ad-libs on your own while I pose my own personal answer to the aphorism: “angry.” Folly or not, I indulge in daily news, and nothing juices up my temper like current events and the powerful idiots running the show. I can’t help it, I was born with a short fuse for political stupidity, and it’s hard to keep one’s cool when each new breaking of dawn brings waves of screeching idiocy. But you know what, there’s a way to put those flames out, and oddly enough, it’s by fighting fire with fire. Nothing pairs better with infuriating politics than grindcore, and Bay Staters Escuela Grind try to make sense out of these “_______” times by screaming their strident faces off.
If you want some angry, loud, and political music, grindcore has always been here for you, and Escuela Grind deliver it fast and furious. Indoctrination sets the tone immediately on “Inspiration Significance” with ferocious vocals fighting for survival amidst a flurry of guitars and percussion. Mic-wielder Katerina Economou castigates the purveyors of groupthink with her standout, defiant screams, providing a suitably intense performance of chaotically-rendered protest music. Jesse Fuentes’ drumming sounds awesome throughout this record, especially on the overwhelming “Private Vice; Public Benefit,” tossing gasoline onto the lyrical fire with a technique that’s brutally rhythmic and always on the attack. Track four “Zalongo” mixes in some death metal to the band’s sound, and currents of powerviolence and hardcore jolt the listener to life throughout the LP’s bite-sized songs. Like other examples of quality grindcore, the tracks don’t overstay their welcome, and they leave a lasting impression.
So, Indoctrination is 28 minutes long, which is short by some metrics but about average for a grind album. Something I appreciate about the genre is how seamless each vitriolic track blends into the next, allowing for a short album to become an engaging listening session. For the first seven songs, Escuela Grind rip, roar, and tear through systematic hate and atonal distortion; and then, they drop in a noisy-ambient interlude that’s longer than nearly all the other songs. I don’t understand why it’s there: sure, conceptually, I get it, but it’s an unnecessary break in the living, breathing rage that is Indoctrination. And unfortunately, this occurs once more on the closer “Indoctrinated,” a 10-minute outro of amplifier feedback and off-kilter drums masquerading as a real song. Again, I don’t see the point. I’m all for experimental and progressive grindcore, and part of me does like that the band tips their hat to noise music, but tracks 8 and 16 are skippable filler, which leaves Indoctrination with only 16 minutes of actual grindcore. Of course, 16 minutes is a lifetime for most grind outfits, but most groups also don’t release albums with 12 minutes of yawn-inducing chaff.
But, I don’t think Escuela Grind gives a damn about what I believe, and that’s fine by me. The only way to experience Indoctrination is by pressing play and trying to keep your teeth inside your skull until the last beat is blasted. 2020 has delivered some great and inventive grind music (see SKAM, Internal Rot, and WAKE), and there’s plenty of moments on Indoctrination that prove this tumultuous year is at least inspiring out some really pissed off bands. EG sounds best when the tempo is barrelling nonstop, like an anarchic locomotive with an ear-shattering whistle, and if you’ve prepared your open mind for outside-the-bun songwriting, then you’ll find some very solid grindcore in Indoctrination. Let’s be honest, our present predicament isn’t going to be over anytime soon, and the idea of ‘returning to normal’ seems like a bygone hope with each passing day. If any kindred spirits are feeling angry with the current state of affairs, give in to your ire and crank this loud.
Indoctrination was released on March 20th, 2020.
You can buy this album and support the band by visiting their Bandcamp page here.