Over the past 5 or 6 years I’ve been hanging around the Australian grindcore scene I’d always heard whispers of 731 as an old-school violent grind band with cult hero status; but whether I simply attributed that to the band in my own warped mind I’ll never know.
Apparently the group contains members of Fallout, Whitehorse, Terror Firma, In Name and Blood, Sense Of Purpose, Odiusembowel and Demon Other. It would also seem that some member of 731 also runs Test Subject Records (who I will love forever more for releasing The Guantanamo Bay City Rollers’ Alcoholocaust). I was a pretty big Demon Other fan while they were around and thought it a real shame when they broke up earlier this year. Their self titled album on Trial & Error Records is well worth tracking down. Christoph (the talented skinsmen of Roskopp) also filled in on drums on a bunch of shows for these guys.
To start off, for a demo called Raw Grind Violence, the first track is pretty painfully slow. We’re talking like Bolt Thrower speeds here: ultra slow blasts and hammers. Thankfully the pace is picked up from the second track onwards, and while never reaching the blistering pace of say The Kill, the music still maintains a whole heap of energy and intensity by pushing punk beats and blasts as far as the drummer is able.
From what I can tell it’s a live recording from PBS, and truthfully recording-wise the quality isn’t all that bad. You can quite clearly differentiate between the guitar and bass, and the drums and vocals have a nice, slightly-distorted raw quality to them. It’s actually quite refreshing to hear a crusty recording that actually sounds good rather than a heap of undefined, distorted shit heap of noise.
The vocals are a mix of harsh death-and-hardcore low yells and some pretty cool higher pitched shrieks a la Mitch Harris (Napalm Death). Stylistically the band lies pretty solidly with the crusty punk Terrorizer old school of grindcore with a few odd throwbacks to more mid-paced death metal legends like Grave and Bolt Thrower (evident predominately in thick meaty breakdowns). I’ve read across the internet rumblings of a powerviolence influence, but to be honest I really cant hear any.
This demo is only 7 tracks long, but I seriously waned between being pretty fucking bored in parts to totally reevaluating my position in a more positive light by the next track. There are probably three or four really solid songs on this demo, while the others – slower and more death metal influenced – don’t really appeal to me. Whats more a few really cheesy break-down progressions and an insanely cheesy scream from the vocalist “ARE YOU READY TO GRIND-DAH!!?” manage to rub me the wrong way.
Admittedly I’m not the biggest fan of bands who just rehash the first wave of grind bands like Terrorizer, Napalm Death and Assuck, so I am incredibly biased, but for me the entire album was a little underwhelming. I don’t think I’ll be revisiting it again. I’m getting pretty bloody picky with the grind I listen to, and I’ll opt for bands that still seem to make an impact with their old school grind influences like Captain Cleanoff, Sayyadina and Insect Warfare. Or that fucking awesome new Phobia album.
I just think 731 might be a little out of their league amongst the current crop of grind bands across Australia and the globe... It's a strange little phenomena I've started to witness: a band like this seems to appeal more to the crust scene - evidenced by a lot of the bands they played and toured with. For a scene in which some factions really dislike grindcore bands in general that is a very perplexing statement to make. Take the recent Graf Orlock Australian tour - effectively a pretty average mid-paced grind band, but it was fucking eaten up by the underground crust crowd in Sydney. Bizzare.