To those of you for whom lockdown is like an inescapable citadel, Portugal’s Bas Rotten might be the band to help you smash through the walls. Throw away that chisel and stop thinking you can gnaw away at the brickwork. No, you need the sledgehammer grindcore of Bas Rotten to obliterate the psychological prison cell that restrains you. Foam at the mouth, squeeze your hands into fist shapes and gurn like a vendetta-driven warrior. Are you ready?
The Portuguese quintet roar into life like a ravenous tank in search of enemy machine gun posts on ‘The Blow’, hitting hard with a furious powerviolence intensity and bludgeoning metallic hardcore assault. It’s the start of seventeen missile detonations, all of which are under two minutes in length, some even flying through the air in less than thirty seconds. Fans of Nasum and Pig Destroyer will lick their lips in savage glee. The likes of ‘Prime Cuts’, ‘Mogul’ and ‘Thrive’ match the grinding crossover fury of Napalm Death at their best. This is fierce music for a maniacal mood when you need to rage. Imagine you’re the judge, jury and executioner of the world’s most execrable human beings to stain the planet. Line up those motherfuckers ready for some cold steel. Singer, Joao (one of three band members with this name), sounds like his eyes are popping out on ‘Dissociation’. Feel the blood overwhelm your eye vessels as you clench your jaw and place your hands on your headphones. Aaaaarrrgh!
The two Joaos on guitar are the engine room of the Bas Rotten machine. Their love of punk rock is just as evident as their admiration for death metal riffs and lightning fast thrash rhythms. Standout track, ‘Worth’, starts with a sleazy hair metal solo but switches to a death-grind tremolo pattern in the blink of an eye. The vocals resemble Chuck Schuldiner in their fuming desire to speak up like a burns victim desperate to exercise their windpipe in the most agonising fashion. It’s impressive how they blitz through a trio of grindcore grenade launches from track seven to nine in less than 01.30 seconds. This is where the band’s admiration for nasty death metal reaches its apogee on ‘Spent’, which will remind you of the Swedish sound of the early 90s.
For an album of seventeen songs and a record of less than twenty-five minutes, Surge should run the risk of saturation and repetition. But this is not the case. Many of the compositions here may be shorter than a Debenhams loan repayment, but they do not lack for imagination. ‘Safe’ starts like a hardcore band playing Gojira but morphs into a d-beat stomp and allows the low belch of the bass guitar to coat it with a harsher edge than most other songs on the album. ‘Yellow’ is pure punk rock dialled up to the frenetic testosterone levels of Gulch and Cro-Mags. The breakdown riff that follows will create carnage in the pit.
Pure grindcore is rare these days. Other genres in extreme metal and hardcore absorbed its intensity and wild aggression into their own sound, and Bas Rotten are no different. Surge is a kaleidoscope of every hostile and anti-establishment style of guitar music you can imagine rolled into one, but grindcore is at the heart of what they do.
Remember the name. Bas Rotten are making a claim for the crown of metal’s most uncompromising sub-genre.
Release Date: 21/11/2020
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: Violence, Safe, Yellow
Suggested Further Listening: Scalp – Domestic Extremity (2020), Pig Destroyer – Book Burner (2012), Nasum – Human 2.0 (2000)