The Hanged Man
There’s nothing like existential grindcore that rips at the eardrums like a buzz saw. Kentucky’s Pissed On is just that with their newest release The Hanged Man. Clocking in at just around 10 minutes, The Hanged Man is a relentless flow of unnerving trembling, distorted hysteria, and shredding lunacy. In its short run time Pissed On have created an outstanding work full of emotion and chaos.
In just five tracks Pissed On unleashes a variety of savage brutality. Immediately the band asks: “What gives your life purpose?” on the opening track “Dear Reader”. The flow rides with contrasting rhythms, firing off with blasting beats, to then settling on sludgy tones that cause an uneasy atmosphere behind the drumming. “Enter the Void” has this same sense of contrasting tones, but with a terrific balance of speed. Coming off the previous track, tempo drastically shifts to allow for faster playing, all while the song progresses into a heftier vibe. Beginning with crazy devastation in drum beats and shredding guitar, the midsection of the song eases on drifting atmosphere. The mood drifts in a haze, all before ending on a powerful crunching conclusion.
One common trait among the material in The Hanged Man is the weight of existential dread. The instrumentation provides a bass heavy and sonically sharp sound that aids in uneasiness and depth; this is an energy that coasts through all the songs, whether they tear away in speed, or trudge forward. Not only do Pissed On demonstrate this vibe through the instrumental work, but lyrically the material embodies these themes. Take the opening lines of “Zoetic Disgrace”: “Chaos reigns, pain ensues, depression sets in but it’s overdue. The world is cold, the world is bleak, the world has no purpose for me.” Not only does the song reek of dread and despair, but the sound structure plays with hectic force, unsettling buzzing, and anxiety provoking adrenaline.
“Shriveled Minds” caters to half blistering craziness, to super slow gloomy atmosphere. What makes this an interesting track is that divide in sound, instead of playing with it back and forth. It gives more time to enjoy the fast intensity, as well as that despair thick aura. Beginning with crunchy shredding and blasts, the song picks up briefly with a sonic guitar rhythm, all before falling into a doom crawl. Last but not least, the self-titled “The Hanged Man” lurks in with death-doom horror. This is pure somber droning and haze that emotionally zaps the listener. “Emotion is a fucking disease. We are despots of what we perceive,” make for a small part of the dread ridden storytelling that is one of the record’s most brutal titles.
Grindcore is easily one of metal’s heaviest and devastating subgenres. What makes it all the more special however is when it combines hectic instrumentation with emotional impact. What Pissed On have unleashed in The Hanged Man is truly spectacular. Not just in a superb blend of instrumental works that reflects various tones, attitudes, and structure, but that also transforms the emotions of the mind. Brutal speeds with jagged distorted tones meet a doomy dreadful presence that is sure to blacken the hearts of any listener. Pissed On will surely be remembered for putting out one of the most devastating records of this year.