The mere notion of Agoraphobic Nosebleed exploring conventional song structures will undoubtedly have many people checking for airborne pigs, but it’s true. The band responsible for some of the most psychotic grindcore of this decade (namely the 100-track, 21-minute Altered States of America) has ditched the six-second blastfests in favor of a more fully fleshed out sound. Considering that guitarist/programmer Scott Hull pulled a similar stunt on the last two albums by his regular band Pig Destroyer, it’s not much of a surprise that he incorporates some classic metal riffing throughout Agorocalypse, not to mention some honest-to-goodness solos, creating at times a sludge/doom/thrash/grind hybrid.
There’s an undeniable sense of groove throughout the 33-minute record, as the drum programming sounds so convincing listeners can hardly believe it’s not a live drummer performing the extended solo on “Question of Integrity”. Vocalist James Randall is his usual demented self: His lyrics combine gut-busting humor (“Dick to Mouth Resuscitation” and the Voivod-parodying “Timelord Two (Paradoxical Reaction)”) with some graphic but potent satire (“First National Stem Cell and Clone”). This time around he’s helped out by co-vocalist Katherine Katz, who lends her own screams and songwriting to such tracks as “Moral Distortion” and “Trauma Queen”. Fans of grind in its traditional form will definitely bristle at the band’s decision to move outside the genre, but when you look at this brutal, lavishly designed album without the grindcore blinders, Agorocalypse is undeniable, ripping good metal, pure and simple.