Asra: The Way Of All Flesh

Many of today’s Relapse spazcore kids forget that grindcore wasn’t always one long blast beat. Back when Napalm Death were freaking out over Discharge, the violent new sound was equal parts blasting insanity, hardcore punk aggression, and crawling death metal. New York power trio Asra honor the old school death-grind tradition by remembering the genre isn’t all one dimensional, and bringing refreshing versatility to their brand of hate.

The ominous death metal chugging of opener “Payload” sets the mood for an album-length explosion of grinding mayhem, even pausing for a sludgy respite near the end that reeks of frantic Eyehategod appreciation. The songs actually stand out from one another, alternating between the obligatory insanity and more deliberate numbers like “Untitled,” whose slow tortured screams and pulsing grooves recall the days when extreme music didn’t have a formula yet.

This CD wisely clocks in at just over 22 minutes, making it listenable from start to finish without becoming a background blur of noise. One almost wishes the release were longer, so varied and effective are the songs on here. With titles like “Those in Power” and “Burning Proletaria,” Asra’s dual vocal onslaught continues the tradition of politically charged metallic mayhem, and it’s damn well done. Grind bands could learn a thing or two from these guys.

In A Word: Violent