Powerviolence quartet, Trading Hands, features some of the most recognisable names from the extreme metal scene in the English home counties. SBR readers might know one or two of them. For this record, London Road Studios producer and Negative Thought Process drummer, Jordan Allard, takes the drum stool next to his Skullfucked bandmate, Max Hummerstone, to explore a musical landscape outside their death-grind roots. Of course, Clobberknocker is every bit as violent as the live photograph on their Bandcamp page suggests, but Trading Hands are more than just a blitz through your cerebellum. Indeed, those grindcore fans that dismiss powerviolence as a sub-genre of punk will think again after this effort.
The last thing you expect on an album like this is an opening song with a classic drum ‘n’ bass beat and a chalky 90s snare sound. For a moment, you wonder if those menacing forehead tattoos on two of the band members are a smokescreen for something lighter. Have no worry, people. ‘Bro Comply’ sees the band rip through a furious alternation between blast beats and murderous hardcore punk. They even treat us to a downtempo grind of asphyxiating guitars and agonising screams during the heavy chug sections. You might detect a punk angle to Sepultura’s ‘Biotech is Godzilla’ on follow up, ‘Tick Till Tuesday’. The multi-vocal roars are proud of their regional accents, just like Hertfordshire mathcore duo, Death Goals. Is it possible to be charmed by something that wants to vaporise you?
Trading Hands are at their best when they miscegenate different spectrums of extreme metal into their sound. Only two of the eleven songs on this record breach the two-minute mark, but they pack a lot into them. ‘Piss Kink’ is good enough to adorn a Nails album with its mixture of insane drum speeds and hysterical vocals, yet it jumps into a sludge metal dirge before delivering the grindcore coup de grâce at the end. ‘Fridge Burner’ introduces a beatdown vibe and sheds the skin of hardcore punk and death metal tremolo riffs along the way. You can try in vain to catch your breath in between the songs, which is not always easy when you have tracks like the sixteen seconds of powerviolence on ‘Hash Law’ and the thirty-one seconds of militant grindcore on ‘Envy’. Can you feel your back teeth grinding under the pressure and intensity?
Music of this nature often conceals a sense of humour instead of parading it. Trading Hands have no such qualms. ‘Cold Ones’ starts with a conversation about how many blast beats the drummer has in his pockets, while ‘Tote Bag Punks’ displays its credentials with thirty-one seconds of doom metal rounded off by throat-rasping vocals. Any band with a song called ‘No Wet Dreams, Just Dry Nightmares’ is worth your attention, right? Kyle Townsend’s high-end bass shredding underneath the chaos is enough to keep you engaged, but you might worry for the lungs of Max Hummerstone on this one. Maybe this is what it sounds like when somebody pukes up broken shards of glass from their stomach. It’s not pretty, kids.
Clobberknocker is a powerviolence beast that reminds you how close the sub-genre is to extreme metal in its intensity and spirit. This record has only one purpose – to destroy you and every living organism within a radius of fifty metres. Enjoy!
Release Date: 16/04/2022
Record Label: Coxhina Records
Standout tracks: Bro Comply, Piss Kink, Fridge Burner
Suggested Further Listening: Negative Thought Process – Hell is… Much Better Than This (2020), Spazz – Dwarf Jester Rising (1994), Nails – Abandon All Life (2013)