When we last caught up with the head on collision that is Virginia’s Tomb Warden, they were running roughshod over listeners. As their lightspeed fuckery has yet to leave my turntable, they’ve returned with another slab of waxen putrefaction in the form of a split with Manitoba’s crusty grind maniacs Flash Out.
Beginning with the aforementioned cryptkeepers themselves, Tomb Warden’s latest is a cavernous, echo-laden monster of furious grindcore. The death metal spinal column that keeps them upright, though still firmly in place, is made sturdier by momentary blasts of bottom-heavy blackened D-beat that recalls the sorely missed Black Breath. The vocals remain locked violently in the pendulum swing between impossibly low guttural utterances and a piercing shriek that tests the limits of upper registers.
When they relent, it’s with but a fleeting mercy. Based on their speed trial mission statement, “Corporate Divination” is a veritable epic. When bemoaning the casual devastation wrought by welfare for the one percenters, the immediacy is altogether more morose and nihilistic due to their cruel brevity. There is nary a second to escape their exultations of encroaching doom. Barely crawling across the 1-minute finish line, they manage dynamic shifts and shoehorn extremity’s litany of touchstones, throwing down the gauntlet to their more long winded contemporaries. What compels the dead to stay that way?
With an overseer as fearsome as the menaces in Tomb Warden, we’re in good hands should we fall victim to a mutiny by the zombified or undead uprising. Seemingly employed by Hades himself, Tomb Warden are here to extinguish all life in the time it takes to wheeze a final breathe.
Flash forward to Flash Out. The Northern warriors peddle an abhorrent, threatening brand of crust. There’s tinges of death metal informed grindcore all over their 3-song side of the split, the cumulative effect of which is brutalizing. Decidedly DIY, the lo-fi buzz and strain of the recording gives their side of the slab a desperation befitting such lyrical resignation. Managing to sidestep the standard tropes of sloganeering we all learned from first wave grind, they opt for couplets that feel and land like apocalyptic word association.
On “Distasteful Display," their “blastbeats in a furnace” aesthetic pays dividends, as it’s paired with harrowing growls and an unexpected squall of deafening noise. This mid-song fade out is but a ruse, as the blistering assault gets counted back in at double time. One can only imagine the band battening down the hatches as the looming winter of Winnipeg sends them into a moldy, subterranean practice space to write and record hymns to society’s ills. All told, the split is over before a sitcom’s first commercial break and this lightspeed lunacy is a far better way to spend your time.
Kudos to the international DIY punk scene for Voltron-ing together to release antisocial orphans such as these. Put out as a collaborative release by Born Dead, Filth Regime, Primitive Future, Rat Mix, and Serenity Now; these are all labels worth a discography deep dive.