Album review

Agoraphobic Nosebleed :
Altered States Of America

Relapse Records

Agoraphobic Nosebleed : Altered States Of AmericaIt's hard to know where to start. I have been listening to Agoraphobic Nosebleed's new release for a couple of days now and still haven't plucked up the courage to endure its full 21 minutes of insane digital grindcore in one sitting.
    Altered States Of America is presented on a 3" CD, contains 100 tracks, goes on for 21 minutes and is currently being considered for the Guinness Book Of Records due to its length. It's unreal. Whirlwind guitars, machine gun double bass drum and piercing, rip-roaring vocals make you feel like you just stuck your head into the world's most powerful blender. Most of the songs last around four seconds; by the time you have read the lubriciously descriptive song title (such as Drive-By Blowjob On A Bicycle), that song was four tracks ago.

I have never listened to Agoraphobic Nosebleed before, but enjoy bands such as Boston heavyweights Converge (which the band have released a split cd with) and was blown back by the sheer power and incomprehensibility of this disc. Initially it sounds like a very poorly put together jam session, but when listened to again you realise that it's actually very well orchestrated and the technical precision is unrivalled; they manage to stay in time when it seems they have completely lost control. Their last release was aptly titled Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope, so it comes as no surprise that this is one super-heavy album and is definitely going to offend a few people: It has the token blasphemous artwork, disturbing song titles and the band's website contains pictures of them holding guns the size of limbs and snorting white powder - and I don't think its sugar.
    But moving away from the imagery, Altered States Of America is an album worth listening to, even if it's just for a good laugh at the lunacy and novelty of four-second songs. Saying that though, this is not an album you could put in your car or casually listen to because you enjoy its melody. This is anger management music. Its lack of accessibility is what makes it unique, but inevitably is its downfall: Your ears can only take so much of the musical arsenal and sonic onslaught before you have to turn it off. The lack of musical variety and constantly similar time signatures mean nearly every song sounds near enough the same. Listening to it in its entirety is the equivalent of running a marathon with your legs tied.

No doubt fans of Agoraphobic Nosebleed won't feel let down; it's just the kind of mayhem they would expect from their favourite grindcore merchants. But for everyone who isn't used to it, this album could be the sole reason to keep away from anything heavier than Simple Plan in the fear of being drawn into a frightening and evil world of minds as deranged as these. Crazy and extreme but repetitive and similar - only for the truly brave.

:: Graham Drummond

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