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Gentrification. The process by which cheap urban neighborhoods become more and more bourgeois until what was once a ghetto is more-or-less a gated community. It's a dirty word where I live. Seattle is the fastest-growing city in the United States. Musicians here are priced out of housing every day, and they're not alone. Musical cities like Portland are among the most popular moving destinations in this country, and the more popular these cities are, the more valuable property there becomes, the higher the rent gets.

It's a vicious economic cycle, one of Jason Netherton's lyrical specialities—he didn't name his primary band Misery Index for no reason. He has nothing nice to say about the rising cost of living in "No Feast (Without Cruelty)", my favorite song from The New Primitive, the debut album by Netherton's new deathgrind supergroup Asphalt Graves. It's the catchiest thing he's written since the title track from Misery Index's 2008 album Traitors, but where that song spat venom at consumerist faux-patriots, "No Feast" has a bone to pick with the way landlords widen the gap between the haves and the have nots. The song's streaming below, but in case you don't speak grind, or just don't want to wait, here's the chorus.

"Raise the rent, build the moat
Keep the city clean and the vermin out
Belly up, well-borne and bred
Keep the profits high and the poor in check"

Maybe you've never encountered that sentiment filtered through more genteel language, but if that's so I bet you haven't lived in an urban center in the past six years. The band synthesizes these lyrics into the greater song structure. Look out for a "here we go again" signaling not only another mosh pit but another round of urban poor getting the shaft.

Of course my attraction to the music is more than lyrical. Asphalt Graves as a whole hits the sweet spot between death metal and grindcore that Napalm Death do in their post-'90s incarnation. I see the project as a continuation of the early Misery Index sound, a way for Netherton to keep writing brief and pummeling music while his other band begins to move in a more melodic and complex direction. The New Primitive is on-par with Discordia, a fun listen and a grim vision of our grueling present day.

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The New Primitive will be released on July 8 via Vitriol Records. Follow Asphalt Graves via Facebook.

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