Review: Gridfailure ‘Sixth Mass-Extinction Skulduggery II’

Gridfailure is the brainchild of David Brenner of Valley Cottage, New York, who created the entire album as well as performed multiple instruments on all tracks. There is also an endless list of guest musicians, far too many to catalogue in a 600-word review. The album is the second part in a five-album Sixth Mass-Extinction Skulduggery concept series and ‘embody current unravelling of society: murder, outbreak, dystopian governments, warfare, depletion of resources, and survival by any means necessary’. The artwork (done by David Brenner) reflects the bleak nature of the subject matter with a series of skulls.

Gridfailure 'Sixth Mass-Extinction Skulduggery II'

Stoking The Embers opens with ambient noise and beautiful classical guitar as well as drums and field recordings. A nice contrast of light and shade. No Defensive Wounds To Be Found takes a more disturbing turn with truly horrific sounds that summon a veritable nightmare, amazingly as with a lot of the other tracks there are lyrics included but are buried way down in the mix and are positively indecipherable. As Napalm Death’s Scum, the lyrics are cerebral but next to impossible to interpret without the use of a lyric sheet. Outlander Harvesters continues the harsh noise but with some pleasantly played percussion providing some much-needed relief and variety.

Matt Bacon’s lovely classical guitar again makes an appearance, this time opening Sabotaging Panacea before resorting to Whitehouse/Merzbow style noise while Invocate Collapse has some nice industrial elements interspersed with the Gridfailure‘s now signature sound, if you like James Plokin then this will give you a thrill. Rapid Intensification is solo David and with some decent Swans style tribal drumming.

At over ten minutes Proven Finite is the longest track on the album and very atmospheric with the sound of rainfall (parts of this album were recorded outside) making this a beautifully ambient number. Christian Molenaar’s guitar, Jeff Wilson’s synths and strangely the usually disturbing vocals all contributeto the meditative effect of the track. Second longest track on the album and with the longest name by far Sixth Mass Extinction Skulduggery II – As Resources Are Depleted So Are Morals, again features gorgeous classical guitar, the use of which is the equivalent of an Ornette Coleman track where Ornette goes off on weird and wonderful tangents while the guitar fills in the spaces.

Red Tide Baptism sounds positively mellow and understated compared to follow-up track Farmer Suicide, with the type of vocals that make your average black metal band sound like Lady Gaga…

Red Tide Baptism sounds positively mellow and understated compared to follow-up track Farmer Suicide, with the type of vocals that make your average black metal band sound like Lady Gaga, layered over some Throbbing Gristle/Cabaret Voltaire style Industrial soundscapes, another solo Brenner piece.

Autophagia Demonstration sounds like it could fit onto Ministry’s Twitch album and has a pleasant enough groove to it. Wish To Disinvent is a cool heavy noise psych number, maybe not a million miles away from what Gnod did on their earlier output. Debris Signature is another pleasant listen with the sound of rainfall putting you again in a meditative and relaxing frame of mind, while Beyond Containment features ominous sounding police sirens perhaps signifying the dystopian government stated earlier in the review. Irma mirrors Proven Finite and Debris Signature with blissful classical guitar and rainfall that draws the album to a conclusion.

Listening to this album is a challenge and maybe I’m not attune enough with the ‘noise’ genre to pick up on all the musical nuances and concepts. I can appreciate the ethos and there were some excellent pieces on here but at 15 tracks and just over 70 minutes long, I felt at times exhausted. I would cautiously recommend this as an interesting listening experience.

Label: Nefarious Industries
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Scribed by: Reza Mills