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From the name down, Friendship are built on incongruity. Little about the Japanese grind band could be described as friendly. They don’t have a warm smile for you or an outstretched hand. Their songs are barbs and bullets. Friendship don’t offer many ways into their music, instead their songs simply happen to you at a speed too quick to react to.

The songs themselves are just as committed to mixing the extremely fast and the extremely slow, not just linearly over the course of a single piece, but laterally. “€ompton”, which you can stream below, opens at two paces at once. The drums and bass burst out of the gate while the guitar stroll into a choppy groove. The two line up, but only just enough to highlight their differences. By the time this contrast has stuck around long enough to be palatable, Friendship have already moved on, meeting in the middle for a more conventional grind assault.

Grind, more than nearly any genre in music, heavy or otherwise, is about the now. It exists in the current moment and then moves on. What happened a split second before only matters inasmuch as it sets you up for what is happening right now. Most grind bands use this as a way of ramping up your adrenaline. They hit right at the part of the brain that inspires fight or flight and then they keep hitting it until you see red. Friendship do something a bit trickier. They exploit that “in the moment” mentality and use it to fuck with your memory. I’ve listened to “€ompton” a dozen times, because it fucking rips, but also because I cannot for the life of me figure out where it goes from warp side to the sludgy crawl that finishes the song without looking at the waveform. The transition between tempos is so smooth that it makes you question whether the song was ever fast in the first place. It’s like how during a particularly hot summer day you can’t recall the sensation of shivering from the cold. There is only the now. Friendship has always played a pummelling slow tempos. We’ve always been at war with Eurasia. The present is incongruous with the past. There is only grind.

Stream “€ompton” below.

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You can pre-order I&II here.