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- Grindcore #1 BUTTONS
The long awaited second full length length from Germany's WOJCZECH is called "Pulsus Letalis" and was recorded by Pierre Bernhard at Sessionstudio / Ostseerockstudio and mixed and mastered by Harris Johns (CORONER, KREATOR, VOIVOD, PESTILENCE) at Musiclab. The album contains 12 tracks of high-speed manic chaos. Dissonant, monolithic walls of guitar on top of a tutorial in blast beats—monumental grind and metal with a crusty edge! Fans of DISCORDANCE AXIS, REPULSION, PHOBIA, EXCRUCIATING TERROR, GASP, SOB, and DISRUPT should love WOJCZECH.
Wojczech do a great job at mixing up death, classic crusty grind, and punk fueled grind. There may be lots of grind bands and releases that came out this year, but don’t let this be one you missed.
Review from MetalReview.com:
The last record from these German crusty grinders hit a sweet spot for me back in 2005—Sedimente was raw, dissonant, angry, indebted to both Tragedy / From Ashes Rise crust punk and Assuck / Extreme Noise Terror blast. That disc wasn’t a classic-to-be, but it was a damn fine grind find, one that has seen repeated spins since I found it then and one that I still enjoy immensely as I revisit it for this review. Now, a half-decade later, Pulsus Letalis sees the band moving a step towards the less grimy part of their formula, dropping some of the crustier tendencies in favor of a more polished attack reminiscent of recent Napalm Death.
In the five years since Sedimente, Wojczech has done what Wojczech does—tour, release a few splits, tour, and tour. According to their press material, they’ve been honing Pulsus Letalis’ tunes onstage, playing shows on four continents in recent years, and the consequent tightness of a well-practiced band is on ready display here. Drummer Stephan Gottwald particularly shines, balancing tempo shifts, d-beats and blasting with apparent ease. Guitarist Stephan Kurth favors clanging, open riffage instead of relying upon chunky chords—his guitar work is often far more clamorous than hammering.
Though they tend toward a more straight-ahead approach in the first half of Pulsus, Wojczech branches out enough to keep things interesting, and they do so more often as the disc progresses—witness the off-kilter spiraling guitars and tempo shifts of “Leitkultur.” In instances like that track and the killer title track or the intro to "Rausch," Pulsus shifts into more atonal waters, employing a more open post-punk-tinged approach alongside the blasting—clanging arpeggios, twisting runs, discordant jangles, contrasting moments of less oppressive atmosphere and even some groovy beats, although all of it still beneath the persistent screaming. As good as the straightforward grinding that opens Pulsus may be, it’s this later section of the record that I find most interesting—disregarding the solid-but-uneventful cover of Repulsion’s “Maggots In Your Coffin,” the second half features the band’s most distinctive compositions, their shifting structures and melodic twists refreshing and intriguing against the sheer headpounding of earlier tracks like “Weltenfresser” or “Zitat.”
Whereas Sedimente was produced and mixed by thrashmaster Harris Johns (Voivod, Kreator, Coroner), Pulsus was recorded by Pierre Bernhard and mixed by Johns. In line with the shift towards a less distinctly punk vibe, Pulsus sports a stouter, punchier mix than its predecessor—it’s louder, edgier, noticeably sharper in the guitar tones. That said, that change isn’t necessarily a plus—it’s more polished, perhaps, but the less bright and metallic sound of Sedimente was a better fit for the band’s aesthetic. Also, the ringing overtones on the snare drum bother me—standing out most egregiously in the opening bits of “Weltenfresser,” in the blasting (and otherwise stellar) “Izotope,” and especially in the mid-tempo trudging introduction to “Rausch.”
All necessary nitpicking aside, like Sedimente, Pulsus Letalis isn’t a masterwork, but it’s another fine, fun feather in the cap of a very solid under-the-radar grindcore band. Nothing on hand is groundbreaking, but Wojczech assembles their influences and building blocks into an enjoyable cacophony. I do miss the slightly crustier feel of their earlier work, so I find Pulsus to be a minor step backward from its older brother on that front, but regardless, it’s still done well, and Wojczech remains an underrated act.
And for those who are wondering, I believe it’s pronounced “voy-cheh.”