Review: Agoraphobic Nosebleed – Arc

“Where illness ends and you begin…”

Long the first word in madcap, face meltingly fast, drum machine fueled grindcore, twisted brainchild of Pig Destroyer/Anal Cunt mastermind Scott Hull Agoraphobic Nosebleed have recently been spreading their diseased wings beyond having the “seconds long thrash whirlwinds of narcotics addled techno paranoia” market cornered. 2009’s excellent Agorapocalypse introduced second vocalist Kat Katz and more long form, melodically inclined (for them, anyway) songwriting, and last year saw the extreme noise collective play some of their first ever live shows (no live drums though, of course) across a limited string of highly publicized festival dates. Broadening horizons even further, AnB’s 2016 initiative has the band releasing a series of EPs centering on each member’s musical proclivities. First up, the band spotlights the aforementioned Katz on the recently released Arc.

Harkening back to Katz’ former gig in celebrated late aughts death sludge trio Salome, Arc takes AnB’s typically mile-a-minute techno-grind trademark sound and slows it down to a tar black doom standstill, sonically stopping to look at the ravaged scenery that Hull & co.’s usual attack would zoom right past, and only increasing the unsettling intensity in the process. Katz not only handled sole vocal duties this time out but also the lyric writing as well, using the project as an outlet to detail her anguish over her mother’s losing battle with schizophrenia and cancer, ensuring that the themes on hand are just as chaotically profound as the aural presentation’s low-end heavy growl, her tortured roars of pure devastation just as painful and challenging as they are cathartic.

Arc has been promoted as an EP but it’s 25 minute run time rivals the length of most grind LPs (just for example, AnB’s own 2003 classic Altered States of America contains 99 tracks and clocks in under 22 minutes), and reveals even more blackened pleasures upon multiple listens. An institution as well known in the heavy music community as Agoraphobic Nosebleed going out on this type of creative limb is a brave undertaking indeed, especially given the subject matter laying Kat Katz’s emotional scars bare in a genre where vulnerability is largely considered a liability. This record is a bold artistic statement, and the flawless execution of the finished product speaks for itself, greatly heightening my anticipation for any and all of this incarnation of the band’s future endeavors. AnB has planted themselves firmly alongside Napalm Death as one of the most long lived and well-loved but also unpredictable and satisfying acts to follow in the modern grind landscape.

Arc is available now.



Kevin Hawkey is the co-founder, head writer and editor of Riot-Nerd. He enjoys Fighting Games, Metal, Marvel, Horror and all the weird shit in between. A lifelong Philadelphian just as comfortable in a circle pit at Underground Arts as he is drooling over the new Hot Toys figures at Brave New Worlds, Kevin’s idiosyncratic sensibility gives this site it’s unique dichotomy between “riot” and “nerd”.

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