It’s rare you get a band switching from funeral doom to grindcore in the space of two years, but Zeit are not your normal artist, nor do they intend to identify with one sub-genre of metal. Hailing from Leipzig, Germany, the trio of Fur (vocals/guitar), Flakman (bass) and Win (drums) used their lockdown restrictions to good effect by recording twenty-four songs in Fur’s home studio. The end result is Betonkrebs, an album that will swipe your head off before you can even blink.
A good grindcore album is a different beast to other forms of music. You’re still writing the first sentence of each song review when the next one starts. Browse through the band’s biography with your headphones on and you’re already at track five when you reach the last paragraph. Yet Zeit are no joke band like Anal Cunt. They deal with the anxiety of post-industrial transformation (‘New Work Order’ and ‘Strukturelle Probleme’), the vicissitudes of the economic cycle (see ‘Zwischen Nichts und Wenig’ and ‘Schwarzlichviertel’) and the alienation of the individual in a manufacturing city (‘Terror Management Theory’). They also use a mammoth guitar tone that’s as much sludge as death metal, and they seldom employ blast beats. Zeit understand the power of the riff.
‘Uberwachungskapital’ is Slayer with the guitar tone of Crowbar and David Vincent’s vocal style from his days in Terrorizer. ‘Kosmische Pessimisten’ will remind you of the early goregrind of Carcass, while ‘Merke Dir’ is pure hardcore with loud bass guitar reverberations. Indeed, one of the most enjoyable aspects of Betonkrebs is picking out the full spectrum of extreme metal influences on the music. Fur utilises a muscular death metal crunch on ‘Insomnia’ with dissonant black metal chords and ringing distortion. For an album of twenty-four songs, it’s impressive how the record makes a point of second guessing your expectations from track sixteen until the end.
Listen to the brilliance of ‘Profit Loss Ratio’ and raise a fist to the stop-start sludge punk and Tom G. Warrior death grunt that introduces the switch to a faster thrash affair. ‘Technische Ratten’ is scary. The band prefer to sing and write in their native German tongue as the most hateful language on the planet, and they make it hard to disagree. Imagine your reaction two minutes later when they deliver the stoner metal riffing of ‘Junkfood’ with a bizarre rock and roll rhythm. Like, uh, what the fuck? The last two songs are even stranger – ‘Lungebrand’ is death metal in the style of Cauldron Black Ram, while ‘420247’ introduces a trip hop beat and 70s rock lick to close the album.
Grindcore might be the only genre where you can get away with no immediate song structures and an abundance of riffs that never grow tedious. The anoraks among you will notice the replica of Death’s ‘Suicide Machine’ on ‘Terror Management Theory’, but Zeit have enough going on and plenty of variation to keep you entertained. It’s also as close as a band will come to capturing the true ferocity of their stage sound. You won’t find any fancy production or engineering here – the decibel levels are too high for the equipment that recorded them, much like in a live setting. This is not a bad thing in the context of the music Zeit create.
Some segments of Betonkrebs will leave you nonplussed; others will produce a smirk on your face. But this is an inventive and extreme audio war against the listener. Who knows which sub-genre of extreme metal they have in mind for their next release? There’s no doubt they’ll do it with great competency, whatever they choose to do.
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: New Work Order, Insomnia, Profit Loss Ratio
Suggested Further Listening: Bas Rotten – Surge (2020), Socioclast – Socioclast (2021), Gatecreeper – An Unexpected Reality (2021)