For a quick and dirty history lesson, just in case you were born yesterday and grew instantly to an adult interested in subversive confrontational guitar driven music, Noisem were a Baltimore quintet. The band rose quickly with a debut album in 2013 on A389, Agony Defined. That mesmerizing piece of fetid rage surged Noisem into the forefront of extreme metal.
Eschewing the sophomore jinx with Blossoming Decay and deterring any doubters, Noisem became metal darlings (deservingly so; no diss). They band crushed audiences, landed on Decibel’s cover, and toured on 2015 Decibel Tour with Carcass, Gorguts, and Black Dahlia Murder.
Then—bursting out of nowhere like Number 5 of the Umbrella Academy in a space leap—in June of 2017, three of the dudes departed the band leaving the two brothers, Sebastian and Harley Phillips, to move forward. They grabbed the vocalist/bassist from their old band, Ben Anft, and decimated any naysayer’s expectations. Cease to Exist drops March 15th on 20 Buck Spin.
This ornery collection of ten tracks all under three minutes arrive to remind audiences of the Phillips’ musical statements. Noisem convene here to forge thrashy death metal at grindcore speeds. The result is palpable insanity; frantic thrash-death hybrids fueled by punk/hardcore basslines and spirit.
Anft’s placement in the band is refreshing. His skirting of the death metal trope of vocal delivery is welcome. While unquestionably enraged, Anft is heard spattering furious, introspective lyrics exploring his demons. Those demonic growls are surprisingly enunciated through the veil of rasp distinctively enough to be deciphered lyrically.
Cease to Exist’s frenzied guitars waste no time unleashing its caustic cacophony as “Constricted Cognition” commences the carpet bombing. The aural deluge, helping Sodom and Discharge get reacquainted, sets the tone of Cease to Exist. Anft’s bass brings in the second track “Deplorable” with a nasty grindcore type initial step and then the Phillips brothers admirably plow forward. This second track shows the band giving a breakdown respite; well placed before chaos returns with a guitar solo and blast beat.
Noisem keep Cease to Exist frantic and succinct. The maintained focus is important and appreciated. The production and songwriting are both honed into a taut, anxious atmosphere; the music cradled close to the chest. This adds to the lyrics of paranoia and outrage. Instead of a grandiose sound, Noisem deliver this sweaty, Phillips again ends track three with a searing solo and exiting divebomb. “Putrid Decadence” starts with a nice nod to Napalm Death with the embedded grind guitar tone and riff. The tense savagery is compact and brutal. The 56 second long “Filth and Stye” is another pounding grind riff. Harley Phillips’ drumming on Cease to Exist is miraculous; stunning in its tenacity. Speed and more speed is the formula.
Ironically it at the song titled “Sensory Overload” when the listener gets only its second sludge fueled breakdown. This allows for an exhausted breath and a small auditory oasis. The mid-tempo thrash riff that starts to the following song, “Downer Hound” quickly picks up with voracity. Bone crushing thrash highlights the next joint, “So Below”, as a venomous offering. The churning guitar from Sebastian’s leads to an interesting final third have vocals and guitar and rhythm coalesce into a crippling bout of insanity. It is an ensnaring whirlpool into the vortex of dementia. Noisem do an amazing job of providing a soundtrack of a mental descent as all facilities crumble. This maelstrom of insecurity and hallucinatory fragmenting continues on the closer, “Ode to Absolution”.
Cease to Exist’s as good as the hype. Stand out tracks such as “Deplorable”, “Eyes Pried Open”, and “Putrid Decadence” – really every track – will thrust this band back into the spotlight which shone on Blossoming Decay. The band’s reverence for its influences of death metal, thrash metal, grindcore, and d-beat manifest as an abhorrent blizzard emerging from a bitter blender. So suppress the urge to apply ambivalent constraints of genre titles and absorb the constant annihilation. Phillips brothers have made the right choice to move forward, keep their name, and recruit Anft into the now power trio. This is one of the best records of the year I predict. Executed brilliantly and adeptly.