Last week, a Bay Area Deathfest concert poster made the rounds on Twitter in the graphic design circles I run in. You can probably guess why. PaRtY CaNnOn is a stoner goregrind (party slam?) band from Dunfermline, Scotland, and they released a new record this year. Let’s review it!
For those of you not familiar with more extreme types of metal, PaRtY CaNnOn could be said to fall into the goregrind subcategory of metal, which itself is a subcategory of grindcore, which could be considered a subcategory of metalcore, which could be considered a subcategory of death metal, and so on. I qualify this genre tree with “could have” because no one actually ever agrees on labeling genres of music.
Goregrind is characterized by slow, lumbering riffs broken up by fast break beats, harmonic guitar squeals, very guttural (sometimes to the point of squealing) vocals, and absurdly violent and gory lyrics. The ridiculous subject matter isn’t actually meant to be taken seriously. PaRtY CaNnOn takes the absurdity further by adding a stoner element.
Author’s note: This genre of metal is a bit outside of my wheelhouse, but I will make my best attempt to give an honest, and educated opinion here.
Bong Hit Hospitalisation has a somewhat refreshingly natural sound. By natural, I mean the vocals are not obviously (or overly) pitch-shifted, the drums aren’t quantisized, and a decent attempt was made to make everyone sound like they were in the same room—or at least inside of a room. This style of music can often sound very scooped out in the midrange, but here the production is pretty open, and everything sits well in the mix—even the bass guitar. The pinging snare drum is a bit extreme for my taste, but it is definitely useful in maintaining a reference to the tempos.
The performances on this record are really good. I listen to a lot of stoner rock, and I like a bit of slop to my metal. Speed metal drummers can often get carried away with precision in my opinion. Letting your timing slip from time to time can really enhance the brutality of a piece. A good example of this slop can be heard right out of the gate on “Russian Zombie Smack (Krokodil).”
This isn’t to say PaRtY CaNnOn is lacking in technical prowess. To the contrary, the band easily holds it together through gravity roll chaos in tracks like “Keg Stand By Me” and “Interested Is Not the Word.” Even if the slop in the performances isn’t intentional, I find it appealing and musical. Yes, I said musical.
And they can deliver it live. Embedded is some concert footage from the aforementioned Bay Area Deathfest 2015.
I can’t speak to the lyrical content of Bong Hit Hospitilisation specifically. Besides not being understandable, lyrics aren’t readily available online. I did find lyrics to a few previous releases though, and I was surprised by the lack of references to marijuana, or gore of any kind. The subject matter was vague, and filled with big words and metaphors typical of most death metal. I don’t know if this would disappoint anyone shopping by album covers or song titles (and it may not apply to this record), but at least it’s safe for work.
How about a few highlights!
Definitely check out the snorting finale at the end of “Interested Is Not the Word.” A common element of this style of music is pushing growly vocals to the extreme—pitch-shifted or otherwise—so they ring with squealing overtones (see “Battle of the Spider-Men!” @ 1:46). This works too.
Half way through “Jack Vs the Exotic Crustacean,” the song erupts into a nearly unintelligible, noodly and sloppily fast passage. The vocals drop out, and the drums seem to fall apart, only to ramp up from the bass drums and then come together in a very fast, tight breakbeat with everyone else barely hanging on until only the drums remain. It’s terribly exciting.
Let’s not pull any punches here. Goregrind isn’t appealing to most people. It certainly isn’t my favorite, and this record really only caught my attention because of the silly concert poster. I don’t know if the things that do appeal to me about this record are things that would appeal to regular goregrind fans, but PaRtY CaNnOn are better than a lot of bands I have heard come out of this scene.
For those of you who would never give music like this a chance, let me just say that it’s healthy to step outside your wheelhouse and listen to something unexpected from time to time. Even if you find music like this unlistenably silly, take the time to see what makes it tick anyway. Some amazingly resourceful inventions have come out of speed metal drumming, and making your voice do things you only thought possible with special effects.
Remember, you can’t say you listen to all kinds of music unless you actually listen to all kinds of music. Take it from someone who listens to all kinds of music.