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Is it just me, or has the chatter around grindcore shifted towards powerviolence in recent years? Relapse's Comps That Kill Fascists are probably a big reason why. I enjoy them, but they feature pretty much all I ever want to hear from any powerviolence band, i.e., five minutes each. I've learned to put up with punk riffs, but I am just not into young dudes yelling in the midrange. Something about the midrange yell raises my hackles. That's usually the fatal flaw for me with deathcore. Kids put together some decent slam metal, then ruin it with the midrange/emo/MySpace yell. I wonder if this is an ageist thing, the aversion to voices beyond one's age demographic. (Yes, I'm not good with kids.)

So Gripe surprise me by being a powerviolence band that I not only tolerate, but enjoy. I don't know how old they are, and I don't really care, but they do have the young-dude-midrange yell that makes me grit my teeth. The classic grindcore "little bear/papa bear" vocal dynamic is present, though, so sometimes the vocalist sounds like his balls have dropped. I guess I do care about age, in that I genuinely hope this band does not last long. Few things would be sadder than old dudes in a band called Gripe.

Admittedly, Gripe is a perfect band name. This is music of complaint, by complainers for complainers (or so the Internet would lead me to believe). "Complaint" is too truthful and lame for a band name, but the one-syllable "Gripe" sounds much more hip. It's like the negative musical equivalent of trendy restaurants named "Blue" or "Egg". (Many have written on "one-syllable restaurant names" - see Google.)

So, Gripe the restaurant. I like this idea. It would be a sadistic place. Short order menu, angry patrons, terrible service. You would go there to get pissed off. Just like the Internet!

But it would lack truth in advertising. The service is in fact great. You can eat the entire menu in 12 minutes and 33 seconds. Admittedly while typing this post, I've consumed that menu about four times and don't feel especially full. I'm not hungry, though. Is this what they call "empty calories"? Man, I'm doing a terrible job of conveying the fact that I like this EP. Or maybe I just like empty calories.

I'd like not to think so, though. I fend off powerviolence/grind/everything-core bands daily. My inbox is like a batting cage with a pitching machine at double speed. I swear, if I hear another blastbeat, I'll... But then come Gripe, young-dude-midrange yells and all. And I let them play. They know what they're doing. They know how not to bore me. Their riffs twist achingly, and their snare sound is fantastic. (That sounds trivial, but I really get off on great snare sounds.) With smart complaints lyrics about societal/personal injustices, and comical photos of cops on Segways (somehow imagery of cops on Segways makes perfect sense for a band called Gripe), this package is a tasty cookie of bile.

I am not a bilious person, so who knows how long Gripe will last in my consciousness. (Hopefully not too long - few things would be sadder than an old dude listening to a band called Gripe.) But for a sharpshooting blast of grind that hits sideways but drills deep, Gripe fills that "need". The band has a Bandcamp, but get this album for free at Grindcore Karaoke. The download there has two more songs, and liner notes that greatly enhance the depth of the experience.

— Cosmo Lee

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