Mumakil- Behold The Failure (Relapse/Riot)

Unrelenting blastcore insanity from these twisted Swiss misters... and no yodelling or hot cocoa in sight!

So, here's my debut album review for Metal As Fuck and though I did originally review Mumakil'Relapse Records debut, Behold The Failure, for my own little webzine, Goats of Pandemonium (shameless plug #1), I have listened to this record several more times since my original evaluation. Plus, I dug further into the band's back catalog, giving me a better reference for comparison. A fact that remains the same from the original review is that Behold The Failure, is 27 tracks of unrelenting blast beat mania devoid of those pesky breakdowns or doomy parts that allow you a chance to breathe! Now take a deep breath, we're going in!

For the unitiated, Mumakil performs what they label as Blastcore, which translates into grindcore leaning towards the death metal end of the spectrum. The band's lyrical territory is that of a pissed-off socio-political nature, like many traditional grind acts. To describe the music to someone completely unfamiliar with Mumakil, I would say that it is like taking early Brutal Truth, Harmony Corruption-era Napalm Death, and the complete chaos of the first couple albums from Kataklysm (does anyone else remember those?), then blasting them out of a jet engine.

This album is fucking fast, mostly 'wall to wall' blast beats and, dare I say, even more intense then the band's previous efforts where they incorporated slowed down, mosh-heavy, sections into the songs. In the place of traditional grind breakdowns or 'oompah, oompah' death-polka sections on Behold The Failure, Mumakil stomps on the brakes and then mashes the gas like Meshuggah on high octane crystal meth. This technique is not overly repetitive and is only used often enough to keep the songs mostly memorable. The track Worms of Chaos is a stand-out, utilising this stop/start technique, puncuating it with distorted bass guitar blasts.

Keeping the songs memorable is generally a difficult task when not a single track on the record hits the two-minute mark. Most of the songs blast around one minute or just beyond. The vocals modulate between different styles of lows and highs to break up the monotony found vocally on many similar grind releases. Sadly, I found myself missing frontman Tom's pig-snorted and pig-squealed vox from their previous releases. Boo-fucking-hoo for me, I guess, as people often openly complain to me about that style of vocals as if I were the inventor! Also removed from the new disc is the use of intro samples. Though entertaining, honestly they aren't missed on Behold The Failure.

The only major gripe I have with Behold the Failure would have to be the production. After giving another listen to Mumakil's 2007 release, Customized Warfare, produced by the band's guitarist, JeJe, I found that the production was nearly perfect for a grind release with its loud riffing, thunderous bass, and well-mixed drums. However, Behold The Failure, shows a marked regression in production value. The drums, even as amazing as the performance is, are WAY out front in the mix, in particular the double bass drums and the cymbals. They are so loud in the mix that the guitars and bass often get washed out, making the sound really muddy. It is almost like the drummer Seb's abilities behind the kit are being showcased and the riffs are being forsaken. This a real shame because there are riffs on this album that will make your head spin, but it is almost a chore to pick them out of the mix!

There is an instance during the aforementioned Worms of Chaos where all the drums, guitars, and vocals do an extended stop/start and leave the bass guitar to deal some punishment, but it is so fuckin' low in the mix that it is barely comes across as a whisper. A bass solo on a grind record should be complete thunderous devastation that makes you fumble for your remote's rewind button so you can listen to it again! No matter how I messed with my equalizer I just couldn't get it fixed to where I wasn't bothered by the mix. It was only a little better when I put on the headphones for a close-up listen.

But - don't let me have you believing the the album is unlistenable, as that is far from true. I just believe that the many of the songs would have benefited from a crisper mix like that of Customized Warfare, and the riffs would have a better chance to be fully appreciated.

The packaging of the Behold the Failure CD is also top-notch. Though this release is not a digipak, or anything too fancy, Orion Landau's artwork and layout are spectacular as always. The booklet is printed on premium stock that is befitting of the layout. The artwork is what I believe to be oil paintings depicting formations of Nazis, cops, the Pope, and assorted destruction that are common themes of the grindcore genre. Snippets of the lyrics are laid over the art and contribute to the overall chaos of the theme. Landau's art never ceases to amaze me. In this age of digital downloads of albums, artwork such as this keeps me buying hard copies of discs and, I believe, really helps the listener to better appreciate the music.

Despite the often muddy mixdown, Behold the Failure is by no means a failure, but a blistering triumph of a modern grind record. My only hope would be that they find a producer/engineer better suited to their style on the next record so that all the members' talents shine through and not just those of the drummer and vocalist.

Mumakil's Behold the Failure is out now on Relapse/Riot.