gruntsplatter-passions-of-a-cripple“The Passions Of A Cripple” LP – Force Of Nature (2005)

Gruntsplatter was started by American Scott Candey from the USA in 1994. He has been involved in numerous other projects, labels and magazines in the underground industrial scene, but Gruntsplatter is probably his main vehicle. I have heard only a small part of his extensive output, but the Gruntsplatter music I heard was usually dark and atmospheric, somewhere between noise and ambient. The new limited vinyl record, which came out in the same month as a cd on Eibon Records, surprised me a little in its harshness. The six tracks appear to be denser and noisier than I’m used of Gruntsplatter. An important cause is probably the significant role of aggressive vocals on some tracks in a power electronics style. The mood is grim and menacing, a feeling which is conveyed in a consistent manner. Some tracks are quite aggressive, like opener ‘The Defoliant’. Others are more dirty obscure soundscapes with lots of sonic waves, rumbling machineries of death and distorted electronics, like ‘Fire Behind Locked Doors’ and ‘Fracturing The Phantom Limb’, where rays of light are not allowed to enter. My favourite piece is probably the loud and powerful ‘Through A Hewn Throat’, with a nasty in-your-face sound. A solid record with 26 minutes filled with a gritty sound and a torturous atmosphere.

7/10 – Ahhh, the latest from Gruntsplatter, and on vinyl no less! From the beginning, Gruntsplatter has been one of my favorite experimental artists in the dark ambient/death industrial realm, so I was really looking forward to this tactfully succinct record, which stays to true to form for the project while also exploring a few twist and turns that add variety and actually give the material more depth and structure. For one thing, there are some pretty twisted distorted vocal snarls going on with some of these tracks (including opener “The Defoliant”), and there’s also more shape shifting going on musically, so there are definitely some lulls of repetition and consistency, but there are also more intricately layered and arranged atmospheres as well. “Fire Behind Locked Doors” opens with low-end surges and caustic midrange distortion, taking a calmer road that exercises more restraint without lacking anything in terms of sinister tone. “Fracturing the Phantom Limb” sort of combines the approaches of the first two tracks, using layers of sound that are thicker and more subdued, but adding in vocals as well – also thick and nasty, so they’re totally indecipherable and act as additional texture. First up on side B is “Mute in the Understanding”, which is thinner in some respects, partly due to the fact that vocals are pretty maniacal in this one, and the approach is quite relentless in its use of persistently fierce midrange and droning hums. But “Through a Hewn Throat” cranks out some surging loops and lots of ambient rumbling behind wails of distorted and caustic power electronics styled vocals – possibly the most intense of the entire LP. “A Stained and Ragged Cutting Board” initially takes the more subdued road of “Fire Behind Locked Doors”, while tossing in a quaint little melodic eeriness behind excellent grinding fits of distorted vocals that make this the most dynamic and powerful track for me. A great way to go out, indeed. It seems odd that some of the tracks cut rather succinctly at the ends, as things do build up and sort of draw to a close, so on occasion it almost feels like things were snipped just a hair too early? I’m not sure, it’s unusual, but not a real problem or anything. The packaging leaves a little to be desired since the LP basically comes in a clear sleeve with just a one-sided black and white cover (bearing the bleak abstract textures for which Gruntsplatters visuals are known, in addition to all necessary text), but the fact that the record is pressed on beautiful transparent dark blue marbled vinyl basically makes up for that! This is definitely something that should draw some power electronics fans into the Gruntsplatter fold, as well as pleasing noise listeners who appreciate thought and substance exercised in addition to a recording style that retains a raw, nasty sort of edge – but without sounding lo-fi or anything. Gruntsplatter never misfires, if you ask me. And this one’s limited to 300 copies, so you better act fast, ’cause you know these fuckers ain’t gonna be sittin’ around for too long!

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