Wednesday, 10 July 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Friendship. "Undercurrent"

By: Eeli Helin

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: 14/06/19
Label: Southern Lord Recordings,
Daymare Recordings

”Undercurrent” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Demise
2. Vertigo
3. Punishment
4. Lack
5. Abandon
6. Fiend
7. Plague
8. Garbage
9. Wrecker
10. Hatred

The Review:

Japan's Friendship ground their way to peoples consciousness with their 2017's debut LP ”Hatred”, that saw the seemingly unknown band deliver a unique hybrid of grindcore, powerviolence and sludge that left everyone wondering what it was that so violently and suddenly hit them. Released digitally and on CD by Daymare Recordings and on vinyl by Southern Lord Recordings, they now return with their highly anticipated second full-length titled ”Undercurrent”. The vicious blend of the aforementioned styles has been taken to a higher and more ruthless level, guaranteed to make your ears bleed and slap your blank, music police faces profoundly throughout its duration.

The album starts with a longer drone/feedback intro until starting an inextinguishable fire on "Vertigo". The track itself is a promise of an excellent album, wavering through d-beat passages and blast beats into a colossal breakdown and back to where it started. The following burst titled "Punishment" delivers what it states. The track, and the whole album for that matter, is punishing and unrelenting to the point of being exhausting. This is where the shorter running time comes to play, since shorter albums like this are easier to manage and you won't get that listeners fatigue at any point. From the beginning, Friendship's influences are quite apparent, but whereas the previous album lacked originality to a certain extent, "Undercurrent" makes up for that, providing a strong bedrock for the band to build on.

The exquisite, self-dependent writing is mostly distinct towards the latter part of the album. Tracks like "Fiend", "Plague" and "Wrecker" stuff more filth in a few minutes than a lot of bands do throughout their entire albums. There's a lot of variety and well placed hooks all around, which makes Friendship stand out as an interesting act that will certainly give you your money's worth. That being said, this album will fly over the heads of those who are not familiar with this type of aggressive, constantly pummeling execution. Others are born to it, others will never tolerate it, but if you keep an open mind, it is rewarding as hell when material like this comes along the way. While the band is still young, finding their own voice so early on is really exciting and interesting, and erects high expectations for whatever it is that they'll do next.

The only pothole they trip on a few times on "Undercurrent", is the repetition of similar song structures. Gladly this doesn't dominate the feeling of the entire album, you won't get the vibe of having the same song on repeat for ten times. These few dips and bends are overshadowed by the sheer brutality and suprisingly concrete, honest emotion, yet by the end you might have hoped that they would have explored themselves a bit further than they did. I don't find it necessary to get too much into it, but perhaps some slower and muddier tracks along the way could've made a significant change to the albums musical narration. Yes, there is slower, monumental riffs throughout, but they tend to lead up to the same, fast-paced conclusion from time to time.

Not to leave with a negative statement, "Undercurrent" is an album that every grindcore/powerviolence aficionado should check out as soon as possible. Highly akin to the kinds of Full of Hell and Nails, Friendship are bound to become a house hold name in the scene as their predecessors. They've already managed to generate a good amount of buzz within the last few years, and now on "Undercurrent" they prove themselves to be hungrier than ever. Having the support of the previously mentioned notable labels, there's no telling to where Friendship will head off to from here.

Undercurrent” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp