Death – a world of pain lies in this world
Death – is eternal sleep
Death – is a silent man,
But he conquers everyone
Every step in life is a step towards death
Nobody escapes death if he hadn’t escaped life
If there wouldn’t be death
Nobody would appreciate life
Maybe one hasn’t yet a name for it
– Blood, ‘Be Doomed’
To call Blood only a grindcore band is to do disservice to both grindcore and Blood themselves. Grindcore in its purest form is rabid musical deconstructionism, best exemplified by Napalm Death’s Peel Sessions. And so it should always remain, as an amorphously articulated explosion of outrage for or against political means and ends. Those political predilections may vary wildly on the individual plane, but most people with perspective refuse to let themselves be consciously or conscientiously aligned, all of the time, with either left or right. For perhaps the first four decades of one’s life, personal philosophies remain in a state of constant churn n’ turn, and it is only after that phase, once the individual has gathered adequate experience and knowledge, that they begin the process of ossification.
This doesn’t mean we choose the lukewarm, undecided middle ground in the interim, either; there are certain causes we ought to feel overwhelmingly disposed towards regardless of the end of political spectrum or time bracket of personal ideological evolution they occupy; a well-tuned intuition serves as a guiding light in such trying waters. The most important thing, however, is to make that decision in as holistically educated a manner as possible, and with the measured humility which our half-baked awareness warrants.
Music is made of melodic units of information; of themselves, too, but especially when they communicate with each other, these units evoke certain feelings that allow us to form a more substantial link between the abstract and the tangible. This dialogue may be subject to interpretation to an extent, but when conducted with direction and interpreted with honesty, undoubtedly brings us closer to a more defined world-view.
It is hard to discern the symbolization behind the unmusic that is grindcore with any kind of depth. Its staunchly anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian history, a direct bleedover from associated punk styles, allows us to subliminally read meaning into a form where there is none to begin with. But because grindcore operates within a self-imposed stylistic straitjacket, the possibilities available to it for creating a world-view of any clarity become limited. It can be used as a tool for releasing pent energy; it can be construed as an expression of anarchy, but in the absence of greater definition and purpose, it is liable also to be viewed as nihilistic in the most misunderstood sense of the term.
Blood certainly referenced grindcore, in phrase-formation, as a passage of hyperactivity in a greater scheme, and as ideological ballast; their musical workings, however, had as much in common with the multifaceted mirrorhouse of images that is death metal and speed metal. Dynamism in metal is the constant interplay among patterns, a perpetual clashing of opposite wills in which there is no victor; rather combating riffs, through their violent but strangely congruent dance, create a gradually unfolding narrative tapestry for the benefit of the listener.
George Santayana in his aesthetic philosophy defined the beautiful as that which gives the higher sense of intellect (as opposed to the lower senses, constituted primarily by smell, taste, and touch. Santayana considered sight and hearing to occupy a higher position in the conventional five-sense hierarchy) food for contemplation, nourishment, and a certain unselfish, non-utilitarian kind of pleasure. This position closely resembles the stage on which we try the case for absolute metal, where structuralism and emotional appeal dovetail in synchronized manner to make for an ultimately enriching experience.
With a new Blood album in the works, perhaps the time is ripe to christen this fine band as an example of absolute death/grind. I know of few others – in grindcore or death metal – that have maintained an aura of impending apocalyptic doom for as long and with no concessions whatsoever to foundational integrity. Grindcore, death metal…these are genres that could exist only in a post-industrial society, where flesh-and-bone human beings are regarded as “resources” to be employed or disposed of in the service of the impersonal inorganic. Wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around? What madness, to fly in the face of all known natural harmony, to live life by the leash and in the noose, and then have the presumption to call it progress?
Explicitly, instinctively, Blood have understood this facade from inception. If the truth is beautiful by sole account of its being the truth, then Blood have been veritable prophets of today’s beautifully ugly truth. To assign labels of left and right to a band such as this is disingenuous; one can empathize with the social critiques of people like Marx and Shaw on a human level, within the context of time and environment in which they were written, without crossing over into full-blown cultural-intersectional-economic Marxism. Mitigation can be achieved without either persecution or appeasement but this calls for statesmanship and a grasp of historical depth. A glance through a Blood lyric sheet reveals them to be individuals, not glorified party manifestos; you can disagree with an individual because you are an individual, too, but simultaneously also appreciate independent thought in another such as yourself. The subconscious is bombarded with impressions through the day; Blood regurgitate these impressions as shrapnel-doggerel in a vaguely channelized splatter pattern; much like how our dreams and nightmares exist in a world of levitated logic all its own but past their layers of absurdness still conceal undeniable links with a reality more beautiful and more terrifying than heaven and hell can ever be.