Album Review: Sugar Wounds – Mechanical Friends (Grind/Gaze)

Written by Zax

  • Sugar Wounds
  • Mechanical Friends
  • Grindcore, Shoegaze, Grindgaze
  • July 26, 2019
  • 8/10

Bandcamp / Spotify

Like many things in the information age, extreme metal has become over saturated and more accessible than ever. Now, this is a good thing and a bad thing for bands and listeners alike. As a listener, you have access to tons of amazing albums by tons of amazing bands that you would have never heard otherwise, but you’ll find yourself getting bored with certain sounds and styles, things can get redundant. As a band, it’s easier than ever to make and promote your music, but it’s hard to standout in a musical landscape where most things have been done. I will always stand by the idea that generic does not equal bad, however it’s always exciting and refreshing to hear something you’ve never heard before.

And with that, I give you: Sugar Wounds. Sugar Wounds are a band that fuses grindcore with shoegaze, or what I’ve been calling grindgaze. Yeah, this is gonna piss off some grind purists. Grindcore is one of the most intense and raw musical genres out there. Shoegaze is one of the most relaxing and chillout genres in history. On paper, it’s a shit idea but it works very well in reality. They aren’t the first extreme metal band to dabble in shoegaze, in fact there’s a whole black metal subgenre called blackgaze. The most popular band to come from that set has been Deafheaven. I’d say this project actually has a fair amount of post-black metal influence too.

It has all the basic grind elements: ear piercing screams, rapid sporadic drums, cutting riffs, and raw rigid production, but it’s so much more than that. They include the soaring beautiful melodies of shoegaze, the song structure and mixing of post-black metal, and even some panic chords and mathy song structures that are reminiscent of mathcore. There’s also a sense of humor to this project, like the cutesy song titles and anime samples that seem like they were created solely to spite douchey grind bros. It’s truly impressive that they were able to make all of this work.

They crammed a lot of ideas into a 27-minute-long EP with 7 tracks on it. I don’t usually do this, but since the tracklist is so diverse, I’m going to do a little track list breakdown. The first two tracks are pretty straight forward grind tracks. You’re instantly met with ear piercing guitar tones and screams. These songs are very fast paced and brief bangers, but the more mellow undertones are definitely there in the back of the mix. We are then thrust into the title track, “Mechanical Friends” where you are instantly met with a peaceful distorted shoegaze riff before the music starts out with soaring lead work and huge melodic riffs. The shoegaze influence become very apparent here, but so does the mathcore and post-black influence. This really is the all-encompassing track on the EP and probably my favorite. We then get another grind shredfest before we get to, “City Snow Sleep” which is heavily post-black influenced, especially in the vocal mixing and riffage. Then we see, “Hit It! Drum Machine-San!!” which starts with a minute and 30-second-long drum solo before breaking another melodic grind ripper with neck breaking speeds. Finally, we cap things off with the nearly 8-minute-long beast of a closing track titled, “I’m Going To Leave You Now With Images Of Bread.” Putting a song that long on a grind project is a ballsy move.

In fact, this whole EP was a ballsy move, and it’s flying painfully low under the radar right now. Yes, it’s very niche, but I’ll be damned if it’s not an awesome niche! If you’re looking for something unique this is highly recommended.

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