Try to remember the first time listening to metal ever made you feel sick to the stomach, bridled by fear or agitated by extreme discomfort. For me, this took place in the onset of my proto-metal years, the days spent listening to the staple metal bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, or Black Sabbath. While browsing the “Heavy Metal” section at f.y.e., I stumbled across Mortician’s Hacked Up For Barbecue. Needless to say, it was an odd feeling, an amalgam of “I think I need to throw up”, “cool”, and “this shit will piss off my parents and scare people”. I ended up buying it. And those same feelings continued as I listened over those buzzsaw guitars, programmed blastbeats and horror movie samples, an odd mixture of discomfort and enjoyment. It was metal felt in its pure primal nature, before you found thirty bands that sounded exactly the same, before you became jaded to heaviness from derivative sounds and the monotony of it all. In a genre ripe with mediocre bands, you could say Spine’s Subhuman is similar to that experience, a hadoken to the face out of a sea of light punches, powerviolence infused hardcore delivered short and to the point.
Spanning six tracks and a running time of just slightly over six minutes, Subhuman wastes no time getting its point across. Production-wise, Subhuman boasts a vastly superior soundscape in comparison to the band’s 2011 demo, Running Out. Replacing its warm and low-fi esque feel, Subhuman breaks through with thick and heavy guitars, rich bass, impactful drums and vastly improved anger-tinged and demonic like vocals, track after track chockful of brutality. The real surprise, however, is the new found speed. Largely abandoning the traditional hardcore sound of Running Out, “Release”, “Grip” and “Call It” showcase Spine dipping, diving, and dodging between breakneck powerviolence rhythms and youth-crew-esque riffs reminiscent of Gorilla Biscuits. The swift and brutal title track, ”Subhuman”, passes for a powerviolence track all on its own. Returning to slow things down is the longest track and album closer, “Hardened”. More reminiscient of Spine’s traditional hardcore sound on Running Out, “Hardened” sails though a sea of mid-tempo thrashy riffs before closing with a crushing nearly full minute breakdown.
Despite the seemingly pure excellence of the record, I did find some shortcomings. The half minute track, “Extinction”, felt incomplete, a bit out of place, and striving to be longer while the overall length of the album hindered my enjoyment of it.
Overall, Spine don’t pull any new punches with Subhuman but they bring one hell of a beatdown. The powerviolence bite and enhanced production benefit the record greatly while small issues like length proved to be a hindrance to the overall enjoyment of the album. But it’s a 7″, so who gives a shit. Spine’s Subhuman gets an 8/10 coffins. Stream it below, pick up the record here, or download it for free here.
Label: Bad Teeth Recordings
Release Date: September 10, 2012
Favorite Tracks: “Subhuman”, “Grip”, “Call It”
For Fans of: Weekend Nachos, Sorry Excuse, Infest, In Disgust, Despise You