Recorded in 2011 in Geneva, “This World Is Dead” is the fifth album release from French stalwarts of intensity and passion Blockheads. Formed in 1992 and raised on a diet of Napalm Death, Carcass and Bolt Thrower, Blockheads skilfully channel the aggression inherent in their music into social and political awareness. Making explicit their views on pro-lifers, exploitation, sexism and fascism through music as enthusiastic and painstaking as this should be applauded and given the attention it deserves. Twenty five tracks over 40 minutes give the listener some idea as to what to expect from the outset.
Opening with “Deindividualized”, which enters on soaring guitar riffs before descending into trademark blast beats and guttural vocals, the listener is swept away into their own personal mosh pit of ferocity and camaraderie. “Already Slaves, “Born Among Bastards” and “Final Arise”, each at barely a minute long, slam the listener to attention. Although brief, these tracks are razor sharp in their delivery and production, and provide a template for how music of this ferocity and directness can be achieved.
“Human Oil” opens with a cry for the future of humanity before it begins its 36 second assault on the senses. Not every track blisters the ears with its venom, “Poisoned Yields” alters the pace and mood within its 90 seconds with admirable effect whilst “Crisis is Killing the Weak” is a virtual express train of momentum and exuberance. The use of an assortment of vocal styles within the same brief tune, such as on “Digging Graves” and “Pro-Lifers”, chanting, screaming as well as the familiar growls is an effective tool for narration and delivery.
The final piece, “Trail of the Dead”, at a “progressive rock” 7 minutes in length, closes the album with an unwieldy battery of percussion, scorching feedback and lumbering guitar motifs at a much more sedentary, but no less commanding, pace. The effect is remarkable and in a sense provides a poignant conclusion to a collection of personal beliefs and attitudes to a variety of issues important not only to the band, but to mankind in general.
Special mention should also be made of the striking cover to “This World Is Dead”, occasionally an overlooked art form in the days of digital downloads. A group of people, some children stand at the precipice of a broken dessert surrounded by the artefacts of what appears to be a graveyard made up of broken crosses and tombs. A striking image indeed and one which may hold several messages pertinent to the subject matter alluded to throughout the album. Now signed to Relapse Records, a household name for lovers of extreme music, and scheduled to appear at the Obscene Extreme festival in the Czech Republic and numerous other festivals in 2013, “This World Is Dead” should hopefully bring wider exposure to Blockheads and give a wider audience the opportunity to see how grindcore can be crafted and thoughtfully packaged.