Review: Noothgrush, Erode the Person: Anthology 1997 - ​1998 (Throne, 2014)

Spanish label Throne Records originally issued this Noothgrush collection in 2006, and now they've repackaged it in a satin finish digipack with a 12-page booklet containing updated artwork and liner notes, in addition to all of the lyrics. The disc includes just about everything the band recorded during three separate sessions with Bart Thurber at House of Faith in Oakland, CA from August 1997 to April 1998—sans two Pink Floyd covers that were on the self-released Erode the Person album in '99, and one Neanderthal cover from the split with Corrupted (those tracks and more were reissued on the Uncovered Failures LP earlier this year).

I believe these sessions made up Noothgrush's final recordings prior to originally disbanding in 2001 (before regrouping in 2011 and ultimately starting to work on new material), and the tracks herein are arranged in reverse chronological order by date of recording—so the Erode the Person album is in the middle amidst splits with Wellington, Suppression, Carol Ann, Corrupted, and Gasp—totaling 13 songs and 74 minutes of stripped down, hammering sludge.

If for some insane reason you've never heard Noothgrush before, they zero in on some top shelf Black Sabbath-styled riffs, make 'em way heavier, bend 'n' warp 'em a bit and occasionally fuck with the time signatures a touch, and then throw in some bitter, sneering vocals somewhat reminiscent of Eyehategod. There you have it. The tracks run anywhere from two or three minutes to 13+ (the 10-second "Strawberry Shortcake and Friends Holding Hands and Going Around the Gazebo With Custard and Pupcake Watching," from the Bllleeeeaaauuurrrrgghhh! compilation, is uncommon, certainly) and always tend to follow a hypnotic pulse that ranges from a slow crawl to a barely midpaced pounding.

"Made Uncomfortable by Others' Pain" was only released on this collection and is probably my favorite song herein—from its sparse, crawling opening to the way it starts to get extra dissonant towards the end. The bouncier "Oil Removed" is a perfect example of the band's riff-centric writing, and the nearly 14-minute "Draize" is an oppressive bruiser with throbbing basslines and dashes of feedback. From the doom-laden "A People Defeated Will Never be United" to the crushing "Starvation," they're all keepers, every one.

The no-frills production is raw but crisp: simple and to the point, just like the music. Well-textured guitars up front, throbbing bass just behind, drums slightly background, vocals somewhere in the middle. It's perfect, really. Heavy as hell and free of excess grit/grime.

The lyrics occasionally touch on more specific socio-political topics, but largely deal with human failure and the fact that mankind is destroying itself and the planet:

The mighty human can't stop polluting itself long enough to find another way. Once God's divine creation, now the virus-ridden accident of evolution, it still thinks it owns the world. All the while, it invents new ways to eradicate itself, its own worst enemy.

It's a consistent listen and there's not a ton of variety, but I'm totally okay with that. There's a reason Noothgrush has been so highly regarded over the years: they perfected their take on a certain formula and they always deliver. I only ever had the Failing Early, Failing Often CD way back when, and was actually trying to find a copy of Erode the Person some years back, but never had any luck. So it's great to see this disc back in print, if only in limited quantity (just 460 copies)!

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