For power electronics fans, a new Grunt album is always a big deal. It’s not just because his releases are dependably high quality (although they generally are), but because he’s an artist who’s shown a real progression, rather than being content to maintain a sonic inertia that would still be appreciated by his fans. Every release represents growth from the last and that makes him an exciting artist to follow.
Myth of Blood is his first new album since 2012’s World Draped in a Camouflage and offers sounds that will please longtime listeners and those who continue to want something more. Building on the last album’s incorporation of more instrumentation, Myth of Blood’s first track incorporates what I swear is a theremin, far away from the crunchy pure noise walls of his early releases indeed. And yet, there is plenty of noise to be had, plenty of the paint-stripping, shrill analogue madness that fans of the act expect, but there is overall a broader range than ever.
One of the most interesting aspects of the music here is that it is more rhythmic than Grunt has been in the past, although I still don’t think that any songs will be breaking onto the dance floor any time soon (though they might when I’m in charge of the dance floor). Instead, the tracks rest on a framework of pulsating electronics and repetitive grooves that, despite their mostly non-melodic nature, find their way into your brain and hang out there for hours.
Of course, there are the flat-out agony fests included for those who worry that Grunt has gone all pop music. ‘Ordeal of Water’ is as unabashedly angry as anything I’ve heard from any of Mikko Aspa’s many projects, made all the more so because he allows a moment of silence after the sound cuts off, just so you can appreciate the ferociousness of what you’ve been listening to for the last four-and-a-half minutes. It’s a clever maneuver that emphasizes the extremes of both his sound and those of which the power electronics genre is capable. Even more challenging to the listener is his choice to follow that up with the album’s title track, the foundation of which is a droning keyboard sequence that has an undeniably melancholic air.
The album is short (but not sweet), and although I feel like there are a few tracks that could have been a little more developed (the longest clocks in at about five-and-a-half minutes, and most are under four), it’s hard to argue with something that leaves you wanting more. Despite its undeniable cohesion, the record shows a nice range of sounds. The only quarrel I have with it is that the vocals are exactly the same all the way through and are very typical of other artists in the genre. I understand wanting to strike a balance between aggression and clarity, but I feel like the richness of the rest of the album deserves more of an effort. The final track, ‘Sacrosanct Imperium’, shows a slight departure from the formula, but I would have loved to see him take some more risks on this front.
In the final evaluation, though, the music is more than strong enough to overcome any small complaints, and it shines as a great example for artists who want to accomplish something within power electronics: it sets the bar high.
01) Black Flag
02) Ghosts of Old Europe
03) Interrogation Paranoia
04) Linkola Legacy
05) Unmarked Graves
07) Ordeal of Water
08) Myth of Blood
09) Saws Are Waiting
10) Sacrosanct Imperium