Artist: Genocide District
Album: Scourge – EP
Mankind is a self-defeating, all-consuming plague that infects everything it touches. Once lush forests have been reduced to barren wastelands, and species that formerly roamed fields and lived a carefree existence are now extinct–or dangerously close–by our selfish hands. The true magnitude of our cruel, malignant reign over planet earth has gone for years without equal, or even an adequate means of description–until Genocide District, that is. These Californian crushers have been making oppressively heavy music for what seems like eons, but nothing so intense, evil or masterful as their latest EP, Scourge. Scourge does to the listener’s head what mankind has been doing to the planet earth for centuries: devastate it. Genocide District do their name proud, waging a war against every brain cell in the listener’s skull, stomping out all traces of sanity with sinister songwriting, superbly synchronized musicianship and of course, obscenely heavy breakdowns. If mankind is a plague, then Genocide District prove it takes a scourge to obliterate one.
Previously, Genocide District relied on relatively simple instrumentation to create a blunt and bold beatdown-meets-deathcore style that smashed the listener’s forehead in with neither tact or mercy. Not much has changed–Genocide District are still more lethal than a lead pipe to the skull–but they craft infinitely more crushing songs with much more care and attention to detail. While Scourge‘s monochromatic album art and simple name might inspire thoughts of a regressed, more traditional hardcore sound, the truth is the exact opposite–Genocide District have stepped up their instrumentation ten-fold, beginning with the devilish drumming from Walter Henriquez. Henriquez is hectic and oppressive behind the kit, beating the listener into submission with bouncy, leaden kick drum patterns that expertly walk a tightrope between technical and brutally belligerent. “Good Riddance” is a great example: Henriquez toggles between incredible speed and insane heaviness, combining punchy hardcore patterns with deep, cannon-like toms that resonate like a nuclear warhead’s detonation. Henriquez expertly blends hasty, hellish drumming with hefty, bone-busting beatdowns to serve as a crushing canvas upon which guitarists Austin Henriquez and Joe Madrid can paint epic soundscapes of gory, grotesque murder. Leave it to “Scourge” or “Demonized” to serve as stellar examples of the duo’s dynamic fretwork. One second, “Demonized” is racing along with a neck-breaking, pulse-pounding two-step, only to drop without warning into a breakdown that would make Black Tongue blush. Scourge is home to tight-knit instrumentation and even tighter songwriting that does true justice to the band’s ability to follow a lurid flow from heavy, to heavier and ending in heaviest.
Scourge‘s truly terrifying and tremendous dictatorship over the listener only really begins with the consideration of vocalist Leland Miller. Miller is the malicious icing on Genocide District’s towering cake of hate and disgust. Miller uses an abrasive, aggressive mid-range yell alongside a low, meaty growl to preach sermons speaking of humanity’s embarrassing existence and evil, uncaring reign over planet earth. “Good Riddance” is almost solely dedicated to that message–while “Not Living, Just Existing” takes a more personal approach, exposing parts of Miller’s innermost workings in an attempt to completely demoralize the listener. Throughout every track, Miller remains consistent without falling into the pungee pit of monotony that plagues so many beatdown–or even heavy–bands. His gruff shouts and grisly bellows are the picture-perfect companion to Scourge‘s sinister musicianship, making every second of the release pure murder.
Genocide District’s true evolution isn’t simply “better drumming,” “heavier chugs” or “killer vocals.” It is the entire dynamic the band has built on Scourge–the way every piece fits together perfectly. The Henriquez brothers work excellently alongside one another–aided by Madrid’s meaty, filthy guitar. “Soul Assassin” and “Good Riddance” show that aspect of the band’s maturation best. Meanwhile, Miller has become less a vocalist and more a prophet of bitterness and malice, carefully crafting his lyrical concepts of sociopathy and sin into veritable sermons that flow into the listener’s ears and takes over their head. From the first seconds of “Scourge,” through the fading conclusion to “Not Living, Just Existing,” Miller is as invasive as he is oppressive–and he is VERY oppressive. Scourge is evidence of a band that grew into the enormous crater they created in the heavy music scene upon their inception, finally realizing their full potential and punishing all of mankind with it.
Subject yourself to humanity’s greatest sin: become one of the infected and give in to all the grisly intensity that Scourge has to offer. Genocide District continue to one-up themselves, annihilating their previous releases and forcing the listener to contemplate; what’s next?
For Fans Of: Face Your Maker, Falsifier, Rex, Black Tongue, Drowning
By: Connor Welsh