Genghis Tronís debut EP, Cloak of Love was overflowing with promise, but seemed like more of a demonstration of unique concepts and striking musicianship than a fully realized record. It switched rapidly back and forth between mellow techno beats and crazy-ass grind-tapping, with some aesthetically pleasing throat-rippers above it. Cloak of Love introduced the hardcore/metal underground to the concept that extreme music can be both viscerally intense and polished, and that production values doesnít diminish the impact that grind can have. Unfortunately, its genre-mashing seemed like a gimmick, and I listened to it mostly for laughs.
Still, I was hyped as all unholy hell when I heard they were writing a full-length. It was surrounded with hype describing how the album is a departure from their previous work, moving from the dynamic of their EP to a more coherent style, melding their electronica influences with their grind influences instead of just switching between them. Normally, you canít trust anything a press release or magazine ad says about a band, but this time around youíd do just as well reading the fluff quotes on the record label website, because Dead Mountain Mouth is a motherfucking masterpiece.
Although Genghis Tron still have drum machines, sudden bursts of fury out of nowhere, samples, and mellow electronic interludes, they have done an incredible job of making it all sound organic while still retaining their studio polish. Instead of feeling like a joke or a gimmick, the quieter bits feel like dynamic pieces of songwriting, holding genuine emotional impact and heightening the impact of the inevitable bursts of guitar-tapping, blast beats and screams.
Thatís a lie about the inevitability of grindiness. The publicity was right about another thing too: the variety of this album. ďFrom the Aisle,Ē for instance, begins with guitar work reminiscent of Earthís new album, with actual singing over it. The screaming starts up about halfway through the song, but there is no grinding and blast beats, instead thereís an intense series of throbbing chords building to a real climax. ďWhite WallsĒ begins with a section resembling something off of Cloak of Love, albeit much more thoroughly composed and well-blended. However, about a minute in the song moves to a section of understated, atmospheric guitar work over soulful singing that I canít help but compare to TV on the Radio. When the same chord progression intensifies and the singing turns to screams, it feels like a genuine, organic build, and the payoff is 100% amazing.
I know it sounds like I wrote this entire review with the bandís cocks in my mouth. I know that this band has a pretty serious love/hate dynamic with people. But seriously, if you didnít like Cloak of Love, give this a chance. Itís an incredible evolution, and my pick for hardcore record of the year. And if you did like Cloak of Love, well, prepare to shit yourself. Dead Mountain Mouth is a spastic, schizophrenic electro-grind record, and I realize that a lot of you probably arenít into that, but underneath the chaos is some incredibly well-composed, well-produced, and well-played music.