Cease to Exist (20 Buck Spin)
By Mike Delano
Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said that, while it’s hard to define exactly what constitutes pornography, “I know it when I see it.” Same goes for a good grindcore album. How does one precisely define what is high art versus what is just a wailing shitstorm of screaming and blast beats in the abrasive world of grind? Who knows, but I know it when I hear it, and the new Noisem album is definitely it. The grindcore genre label is, like most metal genre labels in 2019, pretty much useless here, since this Baltimore crew doesn’t strictly adhere to any particular template. But it may help point your mind in the direction of tightly focused aggression and a relentless pace, both of which are certainly on display on Cease to Exist, their third full-length. With this album, the band has sharpened their sound to a razor point and it strikes with precision and efficiency. There’s no room to wander in these songs — just brief pockets to catch your breath — so the carpet bombing of opener “Constricted Cognition” followed by the barrage of successive blasts like “Putrid Decadence” and “Filth and Stye” hit like a well-planned attack. The ferocity hardly lets up on the second half, but the band does bring the tempo down for a bit with the churning guitars and guttural barks in the middle of of “Sensory Overload” and the feedback outro of “So Below,” as if to signal that the ultraviolence is coming to an end. That’s why it’s a bit of a headscratcher as to why, after nine tracks and 19 minutes of expertly-executed intensity, they choose to end the album with the somewhat aimless “Ode to Absolution,” which sounds more like a menacing opening instrumental than a proper conclusion to this collection. But hey, 9 out of 10 ain’t bad, and when you’ve got an album as brilliantly brutal as Cease to Exist, you’ll be lucky to stay alive to the end anyhow.