Dead Neanderthals - Jazzhammer / Stormannsgalskap [Self Release - 2012]The duo Dead Neanderthals play a style for which John Zorn coined the term "jazzcore", a combination of the timbres and impromptu structures of free jazz with the absolute speed and aggression of grindcore. "Jazzhammer / Stormannsgalskap" is a 20 minute release, with two tracks sporting the names in the title.
The entirety of "Jazzhammer" is a single viscious blast beat, interrupted for a split second at the 3 minute mark just to make its return all the more cataclysmic. Rather than build momentum of some kind, this duo keeps the energy level stays consistently at absolute maximum. The tracks' density crumbles into scraping swirls of distorted dust only 30 seconds before it ends. There is a ubiquitous thick, distorted undercurrent of bass which could just as easily be a bass guitar as the tenor saxophone and synthesizer listed in the liner notes.
Around 5 or 6 minutes the distorted tone shifts to a deeper pitch, and I'm reminded of the Orthrelm album OV, in which the band plays short, lightning fast riffs hundreds of times in a row, only to abruptly and inexplicably switch to a new riff after several minutes or reptition. Dead Neanderthals lacks the impeccable rhythmic organization of Orthrelm, but they certainly at least partially make up for it with sheer primal violence.
"Stormannsgalskap" is a great deal more dynamic. The drummer begins by quietly tapping a frantic assymmetrical meter, punctuating each downbeat with crashes and snares, and gradually accelerates as the bleats of the saxophone, first sounding like a massive hunting horn resounding from miles off, become insistent and animalistic.
The sax player pushes his instrument harder and harder, and the rough harmonies of its metallic overtones emerge. There is no attempt to explore tonality or harmony as it is commonly considered, as he only plays the same pitch repeatedly, desperately. The wails grow ever more frantic and by the end of the track the musicians are utterly ecstatic.
In conclusion, this short release has little conventional musicality, but boundless energy to spare. If you're a devout fan of aggressive free jazz or grindcore, or already acquainted with jazzcore, I highly recommend it. However, if you're like me, and aggression alone is not particularly intriguing to you, you may find yourself skipping "Jazzhammer". I like this release, but I won't be listening to it often. Josh Landry