Reviews

Needle, Needle (Self-Released, 2019)

Emboldened by our present regime, the uptick in violence emanating from our Nation’s capital is an unavoidable and cold reality. The present regime occupying DC has custom built a launchpad from which regressive ideologies have sprung. Hailing from Takoma Park, MD; colloquially known as “Berkeley of the East” has thankfully birthed it’s very own monster to soundtrack the coming apocalypse.

Mere Metro stops away from the center of Western tyranny, the psychotic grindviolence unit Needle just dropped their self-titled LP and it’s a certified Red-Line rager. Topping out with a runtime that barely leans over the finish line at six minutes, the band manages to meld face-melting grind, power violence, and defiant hardcore. Without devolving into the zanier edge of “fun” power violence, Needle manage to inject a lethal dose of unpredictability and sideshow sensibility into the proceedings.

There are hints of everything from the heyday of West Coast power violence, the crustier end of grindcore, and the ferocity of more modern proponents a la Harm Done, Coke Bust, and Iron Lung. 

Rarely if ever has a soundbite so perfectly encapsulated a band’s sound and ethos as Hank Hill’s “I’m about to bust...” The sample, in it’s essence, acts as both the proverbial bursting of the dam and the opening of the starting stalls. Barely able to contain itself, the fury of lightspeed opener “Shattering Retinal Matter” is a classic flash of punk inflected grindcore that’s a table setting statement of malicious intent. Leagues away from the more metallicized end of things, they clearly live on the DIY punk side of the fence and, as the feedback bleeds into the cymbal count of “Extinction Blast," the Slap A Ham ferocity of powerviolence takes hold. Who needs a bass player when the guitars are this bone-jarring, the drums so dexterous and blazing, and a vocalist that occupies each stage of the death throes?! Not this guy! Forgoing the density and menace of low end fury, the three piece of Ron, Charlie, and Aidan instead lives in a land of electro-shock treble heavy mania. Paired with basement-dwelling guttural backups, lead throat Charlie is a ferocious presence of agonizing higher register squeals and larynx shredding screams befitting a band that seems to know their way around the classic death metal canon as well. 

“Reaper Descends” plays with the harsh/harsher vocal trade and is highlighted by a deft change of pace, slowing from off-the-rails into a wash of rolling feedback. Their craft reveals itself in fits and starts and it’s in moments such as these that we’re gifted a glimpse into their purview. Though not necessarily pastiche, Needle fits snuggly into the 90’s staunchly independent powerviolence and grind approach. Even their painstakingly stitched together cover art (credited to “Clint”) is in itself a backward glance of photocopied grotesquerie that calls to mind goregrind as much as it does hXc collage masterworks of yore. 

The mid-section of “Inter-Dimensional Game of Suffering” and “Sonic Terrorism” bring unexpected turns, the momentary shoegaze guitar effects and disorientating hazy hip-hop of the former are stellar surprises. In what could also be the title of the band’s dissertation, the latter is an unrelenting blitz that relies heavily on their hXc influences, as it violently see-saws between PV and grinding punk.

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“Are You Experienced?” might just be a Jimi Hendrix cover. Then again, at :17 of unadulterated madness, who the fuck knows? Regardless, they clearly align themselves with the genius freaknik from whom they cribbed the title, even tacking on a tasty guitar line onto the end note that hints at a hidden guitar worshipper in their midst. Whether it’s a knowing nod to a buried classic rock influencer or not, it devastates everything in its misguided path. "Flagrant Display of False Hope” begins with a larynx flaying expulsion that sprints it’s way into an absolutely harrowing mid-paced chug, it’s most impressive trick is the thickness it achieves with but two mistreated instruments. Though track order isn’t imperative within the confines of a mangled carcass of songcraft, closer “Operative” doubles down on the previous 5 or so minutes of insanity. As quickly as it knocks you down, it washes over your bruised and bloodied body, the ambient feedback slithers confidently away… victorious and rabid. 

Needle’s debut LP was tastefully recorded and mixed by Mike Tony and expertly mastered by Nate Patsfall at Artifact Audio. As crisp as the audio might be, the self described purveyors of NWOTKPKGCPV (New Wave of Takoma Park Grindcore Power Violence, anyone?!) peddle ferocity and fuzz of the highest order. Killer stuff. 

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