Review: Benumb

“By Means of Upheaval”
(Relapse Records)

Viscous grindcore from the San Francisco area.  Benumb’s songs are short bursts of savagery, often clocking in at less than a minute.  Their ability to beat the listener senseless in that short amount of time is really quite remarkable.  Remember when Billy Madison turns to Miss Vaughn and says, “I’ve been physically abused in the ear”?  That’s what listening to this record is like; the most blinding, thrashy speedmetal full of imagery that would make Chinua Achebe (you have read “Things Fall Apart”, haven’t you?) proud.  Many of Benumb’s twenty-two tracks focus on themes of America’s neo-colonialism and economic oppression directed toward developing nations and the dangerously violent ramifications they could spawn.

While most of the lyrics are lost in a barrage of intelligible screams and throaty growls, those that carry through are decidedly well thought out and interesting.  Yeah, grindcore isn’t for everyone and some of the guitars seemed a little flat, but taken for what it is, “Upheaval” is a pretty impressive record.