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Bas Rotten – Surge Award winner

Bas Rotten
by Brian Lowrie at 21 December 2020, 11:11 PM

I can’t put a finger on when exactly my fascination with grindcore and other fast metal genres started; I’ve always been gradually leaning in favor of darker music, but when I was younger, there was no way in hell bands like Portugal’s Bas Rotten would have impressed me. I suppose I find their unapologetic nature admirable; to be a band that truly does not give a f*** about what other bands around them are doing. Their first offering, called “Surge”, might lean a little more in favor of it’s hardcore and punk roots than the thrash-like attributes that grindcore is known for, but it’s still a break-neck album that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.

One of the main concerns with this style of music is the typical track length usually never exceeding three minutes in length, but there lies the charm of not overindulging in any musical theses that one would find in any other subgenre of metal. However, that’s not to say there isn’t any said indulging at all; for instance, it’s moments like the break in “Violence” that the angst is at its peak, and the vocalist lets the instruments be the domineering force in the track. The follow-up track, “Worth”, shows a similar format, and even though the song has some riffs that could be likened to a Toxic Holocaust track, the band does a great job at melding sections with a fair amount of both ease and excitement. If you just want a little sample of what the band really offers, “Primate” or “Burnout” would be the songs I check out first, as they clock in at twenty and fifteen seconds respectively, but do offer small doses of the band’s style.

Even though the album does have a pretty cut-and-dry style of doing as much as possible in a short amount of time, there are some moments of versatility, such as the rallying intro to “Self” and the Slayer-esque break in the album’s title track. To put it simply, “Surge” is the track that feels the most fleshed out and diverse, and would probably be my favorite track from the album. At this point of the album, the tracks start to feel angrier, and is made apparent by the vocalist’s performance; this isn’t to say the first two-thirds of the albums felt lackluster, but there is a more chaotic tension that is found in this area of the album. “Yellow” and “Safe” are specific examples, with the former taking a more groove-oriented approach to it’s format and the latter being grounded in a blackened style of riffing (which, as I’ve confessed before, will almost always be welcomed by me). “Machine” is an interesting choice to end an album on, as it’s not really any more aggressive as some of the other tracks on album, but the rather abrupt end feels suiting, as opposed to going with a tired (albeit beaten-to-death) fade-out that is found on other records.

So what is there to take away from this review? Well, in my opinion, your likeliness to enjoy this album can be based on your opinion of the genre as a whole. If you don’t like this style of music, you’re probably going to really not like this album; However, if you are a bit of a grind aficionado, you’re going to want to pick this up. It has everything you would expect, but everything it has, is done exceptionally well, and it will be interesting to see how the band will follow this up in the future.

Songwriting 8
Musicianship 8
Memorability 9
Production 9

4 Star Rating

1. The Blow
2. Dissociation
3. Prime Cuts
4. Violence
5. Worth
6. Follow
7. Primate
8. Spent
9. Burnout
10. Self
11. Surge
12. Safe
13. Mogul
14. Behold
15. Yellow
16. Thrive
17. Machine
Jay – Vocals
J. - Guitars
J. - Guitars
Ryu – Bass
Ed - Drums
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 29 March 2023

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