I am going to complete this review without using the following terms; “pummeling, unrelenting, uncompromising, brutal, spewing hate, devastating or hateful”… When discussing records of this ilk, these adjectives are givens. I mean, have you heard any compromising grindcore bands devoid of brutality? To incorporate these tired clichés would not only be lazy on my part, but also convey a banality or run-of-the-mill-ness of the record under review. Though Crippled Beggar’s new album garners checks in the prerequisite boxes, it brings a bit more than that to the table. Don’t get me wrong, Death is the Tarn, and I am the Conduit is not allusive or high-concept, but its deft songwriting is definitely not color-by-numbers grind.
Hailing from Providence, Crippled Beggar play an uncompro… just kidding. On these nine tracks, this trio gives tight, technical precision to blasting and blackened grind with a dose of melody and atmosphere. The musicianship is on point throughout. Sean Hart’s guitar tone is nice and chunky, and the occasional solos are snappy and appropriately placed. The riffs demand fist-pumping fury. The rhythm section, bassist Chad Gourd and drummer Patrick Pepper, handles stop and start tempo shiftiness effortlessly. Back and forth barking/howling vocals help bridge hardcore, thrash and black metal influences.
Album opener, “Pendulum”, goes right for the throat, setting the tone with some early Dillinger Escape Plan-esque technicality moving to the heaviness of a His Hero is Gone. That is followed up with “Mill Fire” which adds thrashy riffing to the mix. Parts of “K Hole” and “Dead Woman Crossing” slow down and sludge it up a bit . The formula continues from track to track, with the only outlier being the closer “Lambaste”, which is an acoustic dirge with some, um, oddball vocals and abstract lyrics.
Speaking of lyrics, Death is the Tarn, and I am the Conduit runs the gamut when it comes to lyrical themes. From blood-lusting gore to suicide, drug-soaked nihilism to hemic flagellation rituals, each track sheds light on the darkest and most depraved aspects of the human experience. “Mill Town”, for instance, uses the tale of small town go-no-where delinquents that burn down a historic site of some sort (presumably a mill?) to spout disgust for wasted life.
Death is the Tarn, and I am the Conduit is not a casual listen. It is for those times when only that straight-up hateful (I’m gonna let this one slide), gnashing, grimy torrent of hardcore grind will fit the bill. Luckily, I was in such a mood and I got to check out this chainsaw tirade of an album. It is available for download or CD from Crippled Beggar’s Bandcamp page.