Review & Track Premiere: Godstopper & Grizzlor, Split 7″

godstopper grizzlor split

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Down Here for Long’ by Godstopper from the Godstopper & Grizzlor split single, out Feb. 17 on Corpse Flower Records.]

Who doesn’t like a quick shot of weirdo noise? From the alliteration of their two names to the madcap, wackydoodle stylizations they deliver on one side, then the other, there isn’t really a level on which the Godstopper and Grizzlor split 7″ from Corpse Flower Records doesn’t live up to its promise. Because basically it promises weirdo noise. Each act — in this corner, Godstopper on side A, from Toronto, Ontario; and in this corner, Grizzlor on side B, from New Haven, Connecticut — has some measure of extreme underpinning, though what they most share in common is a refusal to limit themselves to that. To wit, Grizzlor‘s last 7″, Cycloptic (review here), was rife with grinding elements.

This time? It’s the punker push of “Jack and Diane.” It’s been a while since I’ve heard from Godstopper, who released their debut album, What Matters (discussed here), in 2012 to follow their Empty Crawlspace tape (streamed here) and answered it with Lie Down in 2015, but the line they cross between aggressive noise and alternate-universe pop quirk remains decidedly their own on their two inclusions here: “Down Here for Long” and “Cellophane.” Met with the stomp of Grizzlor‘s “Are You Doing Your Job” and the aforementioned “Jack and Diane,” the split totals just about 12 minutes in length but uses that time masterfully to engage a strange and cerebral vibe. I don’t know if it was the label who got them together or some action on the part of the bands themselves, but they are exceedingly well paired, and it lends the release a genuine sense of curation.

Because of that, and because it arrives as part of an ongoing series from Corpse Flower, one tends to think it was the party responsible for setting the whole thing up, but again, Godstopper and Grizzlor make good neighbors for each other. Both are as much art-gallery as they are barroom-corner, and though it’s short, the split between them benefits from a variety of sound that works on a per-track basis, not merely one divided up by two groups each doing their own thing. For Godstopper — the lineup of guitarists Mike Simpson (also vocals) and Derek del Vecchio, bassist Miranda Armstrong and drummer Adam McGillivray — they open with the two-and-a-half-minute crunch of “Down Here for Long,” which takes on a ’90s-style dissonant push and thud but is neither lacking for the modern in its tonality nor void of melody.

godstopper grizzlor split

Its hook is arguably the most straightforward of the release — “Jack and Diane” is not, as it turns out, a John Mellencamp cover — and it’s met with a blend of intense thrust and roll that, in the context of how quick the track moves through, is doubly impressive for its efficiency. Their “Cellophane,” then, of course plays off a line of toy-piano-sounding guitar (I think) anchored by Armstrong‘s bassline, bizarre pop backing vocals, and Simpson‘s almost taunting croon. One could call the whole thing post-Mike Patton, but that’s hardly a descriptive measure, and Godstopper don’t seem to have any of the the snide condescension to their experimentation that defines that part of the Ipecac oeuvre. That said, they’d probably be a boon to the label precisely for that reason.

The bass hits hard enough in a start-stop progression and the drums march along correspondingly in “Are You Doing Your Job” to make me think Grizzlor are playing off Brown Album-era Primus, though I wouldn’t actually hazard a guess at their influences one way or another. Working as the two-piece of Victor Dowgiallo (guitar/vocals/engineering) and John Mohr (drums) while crediting Beef McMeat with bass — whom the Mark Rudolph artwork for the release liner has a charming drawing of the band with a cow between them to represent — Grizzlor are for sure the more abrasive of the two acts, and they give “Jack and Diane” a suitable roughing-up, turning the Americana pop of the original into a sneering punker thrust that devolves into noisy thrust, laughter and guitar-driven cacophony before deftly turning back to a last, tense verse and cutting short there with a quick build and hard stop, leaving only needle-skipping noise afterwards with some creepy drone and crackling in the background.

Just in case the actual material wasn’t already weird enough, the tack-on at the end drives the point home without question, and in that works well to underscore the idea of just how easily a band can go where they want when they want after setting their own rules. Really. Both Godstopper and Grizzlor make it plain on this split that they’re going to do whatever the hell they want at any given moment, and yet the entirety of the offering lacks nothing for flow, and with two differing approaches, comes across as cohesive as side A moves into side B. It probably shouldn’t make sense, but it does — almost in spite of itself — and while I’m not sure either band would take that as a compliment to their work, that’s certainly how it was intended.

Godstopper on Thee Facebooks

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