Noisem – Blossoming Decay

For those of you who don’t know, well where have you been? The members of Baltimore’s Noisem are really, really young – like “barely legal” to just under the drinking age. So of course the obvious angle is they’re bring something new to the now ancient metal genre, right? Well, not exactly.

Let’s face it: Metal is (for the most part) neither by nor for “the kids.” (This is working for me these days. At ATL metal shows, I’m neither the ugliest person in the room, nor “the old guy.” At the usual indie/hipster show, I’m both. I’m just sayin’.) And if there’s anything surprising about Noisem, it’s their adherence to tradition. This is not to say that the band is yet another to-the-letter, period-perfect anachronism. But the band’s mix of grind, crust and hardcore is an amalgam that isn’t moored in any particular era as such – especially not the present. It’s timeless, loud as fuck and really, really violent.

I can barely make out a single lyric of the 11 tracks on Noisem’s sophomore effort, Blossoming Decay, but who cares? The album is a perfectly executed guttural scream of anger, terror and pure intensity. Chances are pretty good that the songs are about disease, war, totalitarianism and wholesale murder – or something awesome like that. But the album is not burdened by a lyric sheet. This works in the band’s favor because, well, who gives a shit? If it sounds cool, it is cool. Blossoming Decay sounds cool – really cool.

Still there’s a nagging question: is Noisem metal, punk or hardcore? The answer is yes.

Noisem’s influences are the bands that trod the figurative DMZ between metal and punk in the mid-to-late-80s like Extreme Noise Terror, Napalm Death and (especially) Carcass. Like the aforementioned bands, Noisem is really fast. But Noisem’s musical corpsegrinder is “slow” enough so that the listener can (usually) count its cycles per second. This is to say that the band has a specific groove and precision to its rhythm – as opposed to the seamless, white light blastbeats of black metal. In other words, Noisem is a grind, not a hum.

OK, the presumption is that crust/grind/thrash music is just nonstop “bash-bash-bash” without a hint of subtlety, right? Thankfully, this is not how it works in Noisem’s case. There’s a certain nuance to the band’s delivery that sets them apart. Granted, such nuance is only discernable by those of us with, ahem, more refined tastes. If you keep listening to Blossoming Decay long enough, it might just end up sounding something like music.

Blossoming Decay
[A389 Recordings]