In 1982, a Punk band in California, ‘Bad Religion’ to be exact, posed the social question of “How Could Hell Be Any Worse?” in the title of their debut album. Whether Dr Greg Graffin, their resident in band genius, was being rhetorical or not, thirty-eight years later UK Crust/Grind/Power Violence trio Negative Thought Process have provided that much needed answer with their third release ‘Hell Is… Much Better Than This’.
Words: Jools Green
‘Hell Is… Much Better Than This’ is their second EP and a follow up to 2016’s full length ‘Methylene Butterfly’. It is a punishing six track, eight-minute offering (with all but one track being just over a minutes duration), raging “against modern society in the face of crippling hopelessness”.
It is definitely a get in, get the job done and get down the pub kind of album, with ‘Negative Thought Process’ venting plenty of anger so you don’t have to – unless of course you really want to.
It all begins with the ominous jangly opening title track ‘Hell is… Much Better Than This’. Punctuated with poignant drum beats, it is a brutal, punchy and hypnotic piece which is just a warm up for the rest of the onslaught. But in amongst all that manic content there is a surreptitious dirty groove that rears its mucky head on a regular basis, making this whole release very listenable.
This especially true of the galloping ‘I Am Scum’, which packs a nice punch, while not forgetting, once it rolls into action, ‘Festering in Ignorance’, which has a wonderfully crunchy grind to it.
Eight minutes may not seem long but this high up the intensity scale and you will feel you have been dealt much more. It is full on brutality at it’s best, crushing, dirty and oppressive.
Vocally there is definitely a Barney Greenaway/Mitch Harris vocal ‘thing’ going on especially on the brutally addictive ‘Cognitive Dissonance’.
Both the rampaging ‘Stagnant’ and the EP’s two and a half minute monster ‘Force Fed Life’, have great bass lines with a fuzzy edged delivery, giving a fullness to the low end and contrasting well against the subsequent manic riffing and equally manic vocals.
These days the Crust/Grind road is one I seldom travel on, but this short sharp journey has been a refreshing interlude reminding me I should visit more often. It certainly sweeps the cobwebs away.
‘Negative Thought Process’ will be available from Hibernacula Records as a digital release from the 24th of April.
Of course everyone knows “Hell is better…” after all, Satan has all the best tunes.