War – it runs through humanity, it lives in the history books and it is always at the front door.
War has always been one of the most touched upon lyrical themes in extreme music, and as long as it continues to spread, it will continue to be. Couple the cost of war with examinations of humanity’s capacity for bloodshed, as well as critiques of the powers that be, and seething lyrical vitriol is the result. This where DC’s Pain Tank and their record 97,901,726 Confirmed Kills comes in.
97,901,726 Confirmed Kills, a title that refers to the band’s attempt at tallying all of the deaths caused by wars America has been involved in, presents an unflinching look at the ramifications of violence and human depravity, set to the sounds of raw, disgusting grindcore. Recorded live in a mere eight hours, this album delivers 24 minutes of disfigured grind that allows for no breathing room, only insurmountable discomfort.
Gritty, malformed guitar riffs violently collide with corrosive bass lines, tumultuous drumming and walls of noise throughout this brief, but brutal release. The album’s shorter tracks – shorter meaning under 60-seconds in length – are blurs of buzzing, toxic instrumentation that never skimps on dissonance, or a bludgeoning chugging riff when needed. Generally as the song’s increase in length, they become more nuanced, albeit still slathered with as much murk as possible.
Opening track “Uniform Shitshow” is an 80-second bashing of ugly sludge; a kind of aberrated sludge approach that appears in different parts of the record. “Starvation Cockhard” begins with a few moments of caustic, lumbering riffs, before bleeding into grim, ear-splitting chords that build into a towering wall of grime and grit. Other highlight tracks include the nearly seven-minute closing cut “Barcodes and Byproducts”. The track begins with sprawling, menacing doom and gloom that gives way to eviscerating, spastic riff salads, and further into lengthy dirges of noisy soundscapes. All the while frontman Steven Kerchner barks, growls and screeches animalistically in a true display of pain.
Since the album was recorded live without overdubbing, it is naturally rough around the edges. This poses a problem if one wants to really pick apart riffs when the band initiates full grind mode, which more often than not ends up sounding like a muffled, sonic blast. But on that same token, the album’s raw, extremely stripped down feel works in conveying its messages and aggression quite well. If this album were more polished, there is no way it would have the same effect. War is an ugly thing, so should this album.
There is a scene in the Showtime series “Homeland” in which music from grind band Gridlink is being used in interrogations with a terrorist suspect. While this is not a jab at Gridlink in any way, Pain Tank‘s erratic sonic hell may have been more applicable there. 97,901,726 Confirmed Kills is an unforgiving and delightfully painful grindcore release that revels in its sonic imperfections and inherent noisiness. While war is truly horrendous, cathartic records like this one may be the only “positive” things to come of it.
Release Date: March 17, 2017
Label: Edgewood Arsenal Records
Favorite Tracks: “Dollar Sign Suicide”, “Starvation Cockhard”, “When Integrity Means Death” and “It Doesn’t Know What Else to Do”
For Fans Of: Piss Vortex and Dystopia