Grunt – Spiritual Eugenics 2CD Freak Animal Records 2020
Following 2009’s sprawling album Petturien Rooli, Grunt slightly reoriented their approach to issue a series of albums based on distinct and individual tracks, including World Draped In A Camouflage (2012), Myth Of Blood (2015), and Castrate the Illusionist (2018). Spiritual Eugenics continues that approach, yet the number of tracks has increased to a length which here spans two 40-minute discs. Interestingly the CD cover lists the 20 tracks in four groups of five tracks, which replicates the track order as presented over the four sides of the 2xLP edition. Given that all tracks could have potentially been squeezed onto the one CD, this speaks volumes about the chosen physical presentation and the way the listener is expected to engage with the presented material.
In taking in the substantial volume of material here, Mikko Aspa yet again demonstrates beyond all question that he is a master craftsman when it comes to the production of power electronics, noise, and industrial-related material. Across the tracks the sound palette is forever varied, and despite its outwardly aggressive and angst-fuelled atmosphere, there are moments of more experimental and sonically spacious respite. Clearly every sonic element is focused and considered, and composition is key here. While base sonics may have been derived from various separate improvisational recording sessions, it is clear they have been specifically selected and combined to gain the end result. As perhaps expected, a myriad of sonics are presented including blustering bass tones, scrap metal abuse, granular noise, morse code distortion, wavering oscillations, looped metallic rhythms, and smattering of samples. The vocals are equally varied in sound treatment and delivery, ranging from deep bellows to angst-fuelled cries.
Lubricant Of The Rebirth stands out with its central conveyor belt loop, further fleshed out with thick droning bass, choir samples, and angst-ridden vocals. The instrumental Tehotuotettu Ihminenis notable for its hollowed-out sound which nudges Grunt’s sound towards the experimental end. Another instrumental track JOB 36:33 blends almost organ-like melodious drones with spitting static and clashing metallic noise, which can be considered in the context of the relevant bible quote: ‘The thunder announces his presence; the storm announces his indignant anger’. The opening track on second disc Inside the Walls is an excellent anxiety-inducing offering, framed around screeching metallic textures, raw junk metal tones, sustained bass drones, and aggressively spat vocals. For yet more variation the slow off-kilter loop of Eight O’Clock has a quite traditional European power electronics tone, with vocals and other flanged elements pushed into the background. Flesh Engine is also notable for its squelched idling loop, general scrap metal clatter, and unhinged shrieking vocals. Immeasurable also stands out by virtue of its fast-paced pulsing undercurrent, over which more unhinged noise is smeared.
To briefly mention the equally stunning physical presentation, this features a multi-panel digipack (including separate eight-panel booklet), pressed into thick matt card stock and containing various collages and artworks, which although uncredited are also from the hands of Mikko Aspa. Spiritual Eugenics is yet another excellent and mandatory album from Grunt, which is also available in a 2LP vinyl edition.