How is it that a grind act that uses a drum machine boasts more deadly rhythmic slew and inescapable traction than any human-powered metal in recent memory? Oh yes, there are plenty of the sort of rote Earache-style blastbeats that have fueled past Agoraphobic Nosebleed records detonating all over Agorapocalypse—check out, say, “Hung From the Rising Sun.” But one listen to the lurching “White on White Crime” or “Question of Integrity” (drum solo!) and it’s clear that guitarist/programmer Scott Hull understands that “rocking” is only another word for “swinging,” and that, like whips, necks only snap when you exploit their give.
Hull is on leave here from his steady gig in Pig Destroyer, a band that certainly knows a thing or two about making metal move, and Agorapocalypse is the most PD-sounding ANb release to date. That is, rather than zipping through dozens of straight-up short, sharp grind-y shocks, the band’s first full-length album in five years extends some tracks past the two-, even three-minute mark and loosens up its arrangements along with its beats, though Hull and bassist/vocalist Richard Johnson never sacrifice the thrashy momentum, not even during vocalists Jay Randall and Katherine Katz’ juddering grindcore George-and-Tammy duet “Trauma Queen.” Randall, Katz, and Johnson provide the equal-opportunity-offender lyrics and take turns on the mic, but this is Hull’s show. Diehard fans longing for another belt-fed fusillade of extreme aggro microbursts will be disappointed, but otherwise it’s Agorapocalypse now.