Ten years later, putrefaction still in progress


Putrefaction In Progress was a real assault on the senses when it was released ten years ago. Last Days Of Humanity were always a goregrind band a cut more extreme than most others, but on this album, they morphed into full blown noise/grind reminiscent of the likes of Sore Throat, Fear Of God, and Reek Of Putrefaction-era Carcass. Gone was any sense of tongue-in-cheek groove, replaced with the most stripped down, caustic barrage imaginable. Reviled by many upon release, Putrefaction Of Progress has continued curiously festering in an underground that now seems more comfortable with the idea of harsh noise blended with elements of black metal, power electronics, and spoken word. Bands like Intolitarian, NyogthaebliszKonflict, and Deathkey use deconstructed music as an unabashed vehicle for political agendas that are anything but tepid; there is no enjoying these bands without at least acknowledging their extra-musical affiliations, because the latter in many ways is their very raison d’etre to be.

Last Days Of Humanity were not a politically-inclined band by any means, and they extinguished even the slightest of melodic suggestions on Putrefaction In Progress but they were making a statement nevertheless. The core template behind this album was actually formed on the immediately preceding EP In Advanced Haemorrhaging Conditions. That EP contained short blasts of shapeless, seemingly unstructured grinding supplemented by a pinging snare and the genre’s fabled intros. The stomping-elephant big chord shifting, such a hallmark of the band’s previous work, was almost fully gone, replaced instead with a single-minded, unpopulist focus on taking the “fun” out of this niche of music.

The noise-grind philosophy is a strange one. I am personally acquainted with at least one such band; Headsplash from Bangalore, India play a similarly mind-numbing strain of noise, and I always make it a point to ask the guys whether there’s any songwriting involved in what they do. To which they simply giggle and say that I should know better. My perception is that these bands generally stay within the rough ballpark of a particular musical zone for any one song or a group of songs; within that ballpark, however, anything and the kitchen sink and the outhouse goes, much like a degenerate’s perverse take on free jazz.

But if the EP alienated some old fans, the full length that followed was an escalation of intent in all departments. Regularly the butt of Spinal Tap-esque humour on the internet, Putrefaction In Progress in fact rebelled against the absorption of goregrind into the relative mainstream at the time. Goregrind was far more popular in the mid-to-late 90s and the early 00s than it is today, and Last Days Of Humanity were in the vanguard of the movement. Bands like Regurgitate and Squash Bowels were gradually adopting a crustier, more accessible style of goregrind than was their wont in the decade past. Last Days Of Humanity themselves had a set style consisting of part groove, part blast, and long, transgressive intros; all par for the course but Last Days Of Humanity did it better than most.

The band could’ve happily settled for more of the same and reaped the rewards of their already-established notoriety, but for them to opt for such a significant detour in the climate prevailing then was a clear flouting of commercial rules, even in a scene as exclusive as goregrind. I can only hear Putrefaction In Progress once or twice an year at most due to its lack of musicality, but it’s hard not to respect the hell out of the sentiment it so violently expresses, a sentiment that has nothing more or less at heart than the unmitigated exploding of underground market dynamics, in sound and in the abstract.

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