I have no idea if the guys in Complete Failure are Steelers fans but this brutal Pittsburgh band hits harder than James Harrison, the (recently released) defensive star who has been fined around a quarter of a million dollars in his career due to brutal tackles and excessive force. He’s one of the most feared players of the past decade, a role that Complete Failure understands quite well. There is no worrying about your well-being here, just the determination to break every bone in your body if you get in the way.
Complete Failure absolutely highlight the “core” in grindcore with their latest album, The Art Gospel of Aggravated Assault. While the album grinds as viciously as anyone in the genre, their hardcore sensibilities surface often, separating their sound from the legions of faster-than-thou bands who buzzsaw into one ear and out the other. From the opening taunts of Mark Bogacki’s bass and Joe Mack’s charismatic bark in “Mind Compf,” the album blasts forward with speed and precision. The first four tracks pummel with great passion, with Mike Rosswog’s amazing drumming keeping the runaway train wobbling on the tracks around every sharp turn instead of crashing off a cliff. The album’s namesake and “Head Hanger To Be” are more catchy than music this abrasive has any right to be. They hammer the listener with blast-beats, breakdowns, and an official shit-ton of groove that feels like sludge on hyper-effective basement-brewed stimulants.
When The Art Gospel of Aggravated Assault deviates from crusty, grinding hardcore and slow things down the songs don’t quite hold up. I can appreciate “change of pace” tracks, and there are often lumbering mid-album songs that work well to divide the faster, shorter bursts of intensity. In fact, some of the very best songs on Complete Failure’s previous release (the excellent Heal No Evil) were those that slowed things down and oozed between the grind attacks. “Drag Migrator” limps forward with dissonant unease but doesn’t build to a pay-off. After the first underwhelming half of “Hero of the Church Herd,” where Mack summons the spirit of Henry Rollins for some un-screamed spoken word that feels out of place, the song amps up the aggression and even achieves effective melody before speeding to the finish line.
The album’s second half still possesses great cuts like “Disinvictus,” which is driven by punk riffs dyed black from sewer grime, and “The Unlove Unhue,” which violently thrashes before ripping the mosh pit an asshole with a queasy breakdown. With songs focused on the specifics of the human experience, not generic anti-establishment/pro-bloodshed posturing, Complete Failure has a lot to say, and they say it loudly. There might be a couple missteps on this album, but it features absolutely top-notch grind execution and drumming, projects unrivaled rage, and at full-throttle the album is totally untouchable. If you’re speeding towards a bleak future and want company, The Art Gospel of Aggravated Assault is the perfect surly companion for your downfall.
Listen to the album on Spotify or at Bandcamp here: http://comfail.bandcamp.com/
And learn more about Complete Failure and their mission statement over at the Season of Mist site here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/bands/complete-failure