Label: Nigra Mors / Loita Underground
Date: February 11th, 2023
Here’s a scandalous opinion: Agathocles sucks. Big time. As a matter of fact, along with an army of nitwit copycats, Belgians are responsible for my absolute loathing for the genre as a whole.
Sure enough, I respect their beginnings. The days when they helped bring grindcore to the spotlight of both metalheads and hardcore kids’ attention. The attitude and social awareness they keep shoveling down our guts are also inducing utter respect.
However, musically first and foremost, they’ve become a parody of their own creation. Mincecore? Really? Nobody gets the joke? And the joke’s on every collector vigorously trying to assemble even a fragment of their discography. But it stopped being funny or even mildly interesting about two decades ago.
Hence, this is the first and likely the last time I will be doing a review of Agathocles’ releases. Hell, I won’t even write it now. It’s the same thing you can hear on dozens of their splits, Eps or full length albums.
All I can say I actually like are “Unlock the Doors” and “Rabid Dogs”, though they may be covers of some crust punk band(s), considering they are so different from the rest of material. The last song on their part of this CD, “Gisteren, nu en morgen” is also out of place here and therefore my immediate favorite.
By the way, if you’re looking for new Agathocles tracks, look beyond this split. None of those live here.
Moving on, to fresher names though made up of established figures in the Spanish underground.
M. U. G. R. E. is a one-man project announced as a combination of death metal and grind. Honestly, that would explain it all. Meandering between the two, the band keeps to the fairly simple formula of primal death metal, overly Florida-influenced with South American touches, in combination with raw hardcore that further brutalizes the sound towards grinding sonority.
Seemingly without displaying ambitions further than expressing admiration towards the genre(s) at hand, M. U. G. R. E. goes through the motions convincingly enough to satisfy the fans, but not much beyond.
The one real suggestion from my part would be to take much better care about the vocals that sound as if they aren’t even in the same neighborhood as other instruments, let alone the same recording studio. They need to be much higher up the mix. As they sit, it’s like some rumbling beneath the surface.
As for Vrk, I’ve written about them before. Nothing has changed, nor will it ever when it comes to this musical entity. It’s the mixture of black metal, crust punk and noise, though traces of the last one mentioned are present only in the track that could be construed as intro. Those sonic explorations are, as expected, far from my taste and even understanding. However, the one track in the middle, “Canto pra um inexistente despois”, shows Vrk as a much more appealing produce.
Basic and raw in execution, though not quite as minimalistic as we’re used to hearing from similar acts, Vrk exerts the energy of a post-nuclear windy wasteland characteristic for the genres covered.
The whole thing ends in a half-tribal-half-sampled track which Vrk uses as an outro. I need to mention that these three tracks are also not new ones exclusive for this release, but rather the entire “Luita, utopia e maldade”, demo number four for the band, published in 2020.
And that would be all actually. My one hope for this split release is that there will be enough die-hard fans of Agathocles that will get it, listen to the whole thing, fall in love with M. U. G. R. E. and / or Vrk so that there’s still a purpose behind Belgians’ remaining in active status.