In the middle of Dead In The Dirt’s debut LP, The Blind Hole, you’ll find a recording of Jim Harrison reciting a poem of his called ‘Barking.’ The poem ends, “Yesterday I got a call from the outside world/ But I said ‘no’ in thunder/ I was a dog on a short, short chain/ And now there’s no chain.” Those words sum up this band rather effectively: DITD make a racket akin to a raving dog that the neighbor kids have been tormenting for years because of its leash. Now liberated, it’s free to return the torment.
Though “audio terrorism” might be a more apt description of what this Atlanta-based trio – consisting of guitarist/vocalist Blake Connally, bassist/vocalist Bo Orr and drummer Hank Pratt – does. One of the band’s most obvious influences, stretching back to their two prior EPs, is Napalm Death’s Scum. That’s not to say that Blind is a Scum rip-off – certainly not. Their style of grind owes as much to ND’s landmark debut as it does to current and former Southern Lord label-mates All Pigs Must Die and Trap Them, respectively.
But while DITD have tinges of hardcore and death metal, their specialty is grindcore. And with a 23 minute runtime across 22 songs, there isn’t an ounce of fat on this disc – mainly because there isn’t time for any. Instead, what you get upon pressing play is an unrelenting barrage of spit-in-your-face aggression. Sub-minute explosions ‘Mask’ and ‘One More Day,’ as examples, are visceral and remorseless as they steamroll over you. Even when the band decides to stretch their legs a bit and let songs extend beyond a minute, the attack is no less dull. ‘Strength Through Restraint,’ which passes the minute-twenty mark, doesn’t sprint, but instead drags its guitars through barbwire causing them to squeal and scream in pain. Meanwhile, album closer ‘Halo Crown’ manages to creep past three minutes (and is the only song to do so) and finds the rhythm section elephant-stomps over the guitar, forcing the beat and bloodied six-string to crawl around in agony before finally passing out.
Taking a break, on purpose or otherwise, is not within the vocabulary of this band, however. Employing two vocalists – Connally who growls a Rancor and Orr who screeches as if being tortured – means that there’s something always going on over and through the aural detonations. Both are menacing and effective, to boot. Connally bellowing, “Everything inside me divides me from you” during the climax of ‘Knife in the Feathers’ doesn’t make it clear whether he’s convincing himself or the person he’s talking to that something’s gotta change. When Orr joins Connally’s chant, it’s no clearer; it is no less haunting, either. Which is the point, after all. The Blind Hole is nothing utterly mind-blowing or game-changing in the grindcore world, but it’s also not trying to be. Instead, much like a kick to the balls, it’ll remind you of what it’s like to be alive and feel primitive emotion, and sometimes that’s enough.