Gaza is an experimental metal indie band from Salt Lake City, Utah that incorporates elements of grindcore, mathcore, and sludge metal into their music. Formed in 2004, they are currently signed to Black Market Activities and have released one EP and three full-length albums. They are known for their complex and heavy sound, as well as their outspoken anti-religious and political views.
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Gaza’s last album was called He Is Never Coming Back. The “He” in the title refers to God. Around the time of the record’s release in 2009, vocalist Jon Parkin was quoted as saying “He Is Never Coming Back is a knife pushed slowly through the temple and into humanity’s primitive religiousness. It is a call to utilize the same logic and reason applied in every other aspect of our lives in the assessment of theology.” And when I spoke to him about the record shortly after it came out, he told me, “We wanted this record to pick you up and death shake you like a dog would snap a rabbit’s neck. And to once in a while stop to lick the blood running from your nose.” The frontman, who is 6’7″, and wears his hair close-cropped, clearly isn’t afraid to use colorful language when making a point. The music’s just as intense and amped on No Absolutes in Human Suffering, the Salt Lake City, Utah, grindcore band’s third album– and best to date.
It works so well because they find a balance between melody and cacaphony. The 11-song collection was produced by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou, who gives Gaza’s warped blend of grind, hardcore, and crust a dense, sturdy feel. On their Facebook, the band calls what they do “progressive crust” and “math piss.” The first works, but I might change the latter to “math pissed off.” Like Gaza’s past work, the music here is a dense and intense, a twisting, churning spin on noisy grind with a tendency toward rock’n’roll. The songs, with their constant warping mutations, feel like they’re melting. Outside the more mid-tempo title track, and the closing dirge, it’s unrelenting. Even when songs are longer– the six-minute “Not With All the Hope in the World”, which moves from a blur to a beautiful sludge anthem, to that surprisingly plaintive, doom closer “Routine and Then Death”– the pieces never stop throwing unexpected shifts at you. “The Vipers” melds hyper grind, a mid-tempo breakdown, indelible melody, and a noise-rock pep talk. It’s a dexterous showing: math rock made up of violent equations.
In a self-penned bio, the group refers to themselves as “failed emo musicians.” A joke, maybe, but there is plenty of emotion and emoting here. Parkin reminds me of a short story writer in some ways, or Converge’s Jacob Bannon writing for Harvey Milk. His lyrics are sketches and observations that move from the economy (“I understand we have invented ourselves out of a job”), playful anti-religiousness (“It sure was nice of Jesus to take time away from ignoring/ Ethnic cleansing genocide and famine-bloated children/ Or regrowing limbs for landmine victims/ To help you score that touchdown”), the generally political (“Know your children will know more of this earth than you ever will/ You should be embarrassed/ I can hear them laughing at their history books”), to tracks that remind me of punk zine Cometbus, or the poetic manifestos of the anarchist collective Crimethinc. In “Routine and Then Death”, for example, the only words we get are “It’s the same noise every day/ We walk back and forth.” Parkin finds a way out of that cycle in “Skull Trophy” via “a deer carcass someone had cleanly taken the head off of” that he passes in his car. As he puts it, in a way that I find fairly romantic, “I thought of you/ I knew you’d find it full of wonder/ Someone had desecrated a corpse for a sportless opportunistic skull trophy/ That alone is some hillbilly shit/ But the bigger picture is that we’ve lost feeling in our left arm.” Best pickup line of the year.
For all the challenging complexity, this is music that sticks in your head. No Absolutes opens with the wobbling post-rocking drone of “Mostly Hair and Bones Now”– the track ushers in a huge grind explosion after 50 seconds– and moves through the AmRep muscularity of the title track to the proggy soloing/post-rock slipperiness of “When They Beg” to the jazz breakdowns at the start of “Skull Trophy”. You get the point. Amid all this chaos, though, there’s calm. Amid the anger and bile, a discernable beauty. Gaza are a rare band in this way– an uncompromising group that should appeal to folks who don’t usually stock grindcore in their music collection, all without trying, in the least, to win them over.
Published on Sep 11, 2012 by TeenyBop Syndrome
Off of No Absolutes In Human Suffering.