Grunt – World Draped In A Camouflage LP Freak Animal 2012
The last proper album from Grunt was ‘Petturien Rooli’ in 2009 and although it received significant praise from various quarters, for me at least it was not an album which grabbed my full attention. Although I can acknowledge it is a solid album (if not somewhat sprawling in scope), on the other hand it does not have that certain ‘something’ to keep me returning for frequent listens (…let’s put it down to personal taste).
So when approaching ‘World Draped In A Camouflage’ I immediately found it to be much stronger and focused but also diverse album, which still inhabits the particular sound which can be ascribed to Grunt. Likewise despite the brute force sound for which Grunt are known, this comes across a clearly sophisticated power electronics album – and by ‘sophisticated’ I mean it is an album of a diverse range of sonic elements utilised by someone highly skilled in the composition of harsh sound structures. Thus with regard to the range of sonic elements, the album has been composed with an assemblage of: static riddled tape loops, textural noise, decaying feedback, harsh blasts of distortion and general overloaded noise manipulations, in addition to other more diverse elements such as sampled operatic vocals, orchestral strings and tonal aspects more akin to pure experimental material. And apart from the constructed sound elements, there is also fantastic diversity with the vocals, spanning the trademark gruff yelled style, through to more urgent and higher pitched screeched variety – some sections being clearly audible, with other highly modified through echoed and distorted treatments.
From the outset the first two tracks illustrate the scope and diversity of the album. The title track is up first and is quite experimental in tone, with a soundscape of deep echoed drones, layered queasy electronics and sampled operatic vocals, whilst the second track ‘Kansanmurhan Infarastrukktuuri’ is a straight down the line avalanche of searing brutal noise and aggressive vocals. With ‘Maailmanlopun Mekanismi’ despite the loud, rough and cyclic ‘steel in a cement mixer’ type clatter, it manages to display a meditative quality within its noisy framework, which is also one of the longer tracks of the album at around 6 minutes. Following track ‘Dance for the Genocide’ delivers an absolute album highlight, and although its core is a power electronics track, it is also driven by instrumentation you would not typically expect. Built on a base of controlled distortion and acerbic flanged vocals, what makes this track so distinct are the modern classical elements, including urgent angular orchestral strings and sparse tympani percussion (sounding to be real rather than synth derived). ‘Ritual of Mortality’ provides a tense almost death industrial base, with later introduced looped flaying noise and trademark heavy gruff vocals to provide a power electronics slant. ‘Like Dead Dogs’ is yet another album highlight, with its squelching and decaying noise loops, wavering noise and some seriously heavy and unhinged vocals – tremendous stuff. Late album ‘March of the Titans’ displays a suitable amount of echoed and jagged metallic crunch (built of multi-layered loops), with the later segment having a more ominous tone built on pulsing static, sampled choirs and vocals of shrieking intensity.
Noting that the 10 tracks are between 2 and 6 minutes, each piece illustrates individual character yet collectively embodies a fully coherent album and highlights the degree of focus and skill encapsulated within. As such the complexity, depth and multi-layering of this collection of tracks is exceptional, with all elements having clear purpose and place within the mix. Although it is far too early to be proclaiming this as a ‘classic’, it is definitely an essential release of 2012. For either old or new listeners, surely ‘World Draped In A Camouflage’ cannot disappoint.