I would argue that a lot of the 'staple'/well-established grind bands in Australia are in a period of stagnation. Nobody is doing much. Sure, Fuck I'm Dead and Blood Duster might get together for the occasional show, but those bands pretty much in a period of sterility, playing old songs they've played a thousand times before. Who is breaking new ground and injecting new energy into the Australian grind scene? Who is touring relentlessly? Who is turning heads whenever they go?
Well one such band is Fat Guy Wears Mystic Wolf Shirt; an energetic, frenetic and chaotic mathy/grindy three piece from the coast of New South Wales. I've kept a keen eye on the band since their live debut in early 2011. Since then they have quite easily become my new favourite Australian grind group.
Their style combines angular, dissonant guitar chords with sharp, clinically precise, jazz-influenced drumming and scorching mid-range vocals. They bring to mind the intensity of Discordance Axis and Agents of Abhorrence, the sporadicness of Calculating-era Dillinger Escape Plan, the rawness of early Converge and Pig Destroyer and the technical absurdity of Cephalic Carnage.
In a word; Counter/Transference represents everything I want out of a grind album; it's fast, frenetic, chaotic and dissonant. For a three-piece (guitars, drums, vocals) the sound is thick, natural and full. The drum sound is open and organic. There is certainly no need for overcompensation via compression and beat-replacement here.
The lyrics are also another highlight. The vocalist (unnamed it would seem on this release) earns his keep as a psychologist. With his lyrics each song providse a fantastic snapshot of emotional wreckage, confusion and mental struggle. The lyrics on Counter/Transference represent a real, actual exorcism of emotion rather than your average garbed gore/horror fucking nonsense gimmick --- real and honest catharsis as opposed to the absurd, insulting caricature offered up by your favourite death metal group. The vocals themselves are delivered with intensity to match that emotion; offering some bizarre mix of Dimitri Minakakis, J.R. Hayes and some unnamed hardcore bloker. Neither the lyrics nor the deliver ring hollow.
Let's review; Awesome sporadic, chaotic and intense songwriting? Check. Incredible drumming? Check. Dissonant, inventive guitar work? Check. Cool vocals? Check. Intense lyrics? Check. Excellent production? Check (and I would expect nothing less from the inimitable Tim Carr of 301 Studios). Great packaging and artwork? Check. Price tag? A steal at $10.
Well, welcome to my most enjoyed grind-related in a long, long time. Fucking buy it. This totally eclipses Gridlink's latest offering, and I don't see this one being topped anytime soon; not by The Kill and not by Agents of Abhorrence. Spend all the time you want pining for your favourite renown grind hobbyist group to get its shit together for an annual gig so that you can hang out with the boys like the old days - but these guys are touring constantly, writing new grind tunes and absolutely shredding anything else I've heard from even the international grindcore scene in recent years.
Dillinger? Watered down. Gridlink? Rehash. In 2011 the Fatwolf is where it's at.