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Not for the close-minded - 90%

genghis666khan, March 12th, 2014

Gridlink is a band I've followed for some time now. For me personally, Discordance Axis will forever be one of my all-time favorite grindcore bands. The Inalienable Dreamless single-handedly changed my perception on grindcore as far as what it could be. As much as I love the genre as a whole, a lot of bands end up sounding similar to each other. That's one of the reasons why Discordance Axis will always hold a special place in my heart. While there are many bands influenced by DA, no band really sounds like them. They changed the game. Fuck anyone who says otherwise.

Not long after I found that vocalist Jon Chang had moved onto this band Gridlink. Again, I instantly fell in love. Melodic grindcore sounds like an oxymoron in of itself, but Gridlink blended the idea together so effortlessly they found themselves once again changing the game as far as grindcore goes. I was deeply saddened to hear that Gridlink was breaking up and more that Jon Chang announced his retirement from music. But at least they're not leaving us hanging.

Enough pretentious blather! As far as Longhena goes, it's once more solid proof that the boys in Gridlink don't bother trying to sound like the rest of the pack. They're just fine playing their unique style of intense blistering grind. Guitarist Takafumi Matsubara shreds and bludgeons listeners with insanely fast riffs and chords with surprisingly deliberate and coherent melodies and dissonance that is feels tantamount to being swept away by an F-5 class tornado. Much like Mother Nature, it's extremely destructive yet beautiful and awe-inspiring. The drumming is vicious and precise to a laser point. Needless to say, if you're unfamiliar with Bryan Fajardo's drum work, you need to freshen up on your grindcore (Phobia, P.L.F., Noisear, Kill the Client). Bassist Teddy Patterson's ability to match and keep up with Matsubara-sama's riffs is a true testament to how skilled and talented he is a fellow musician. And finally Jon Chang. His vocal style is easily one of the most recognizable voices in extreme metal, and his delivery is something that leaves many others filled with envy (myself included). The emotional depth that he brings to grindcore is more than just the typical hateful rage most bands in the genre stick to. There's actual dynamics involved. Take the end of the opening track, Constant Autumn. There simply is no faking that kind of raw emotion he brings to the table. The whole record in itself is an emotional roller-coaster (as cheesy as that sounds).

To sum it all up, this is the type of record that will live on for the rabid grind obsessed fans of the genre. Gridlink is simply a one of a kind grindcore band, whether you enjoy their style or not. If you have a mind open enough to stray a little bit from the generic grind, I highly suggest you take the time to listen to this album, and REALLY LISTEN TO IT. The amount of musical detail they are able to squeeze into these short songs (the longest track clocking in at just barely over 3 minutes) is insane to say the very least. I'm glad I pre-ordered the CD, and will baby the shit out of it until the day I can't grind anymore. Which will probably be the day I die.

(Bonus bit: Paul Pavlovich, the original singer for legendary grind band Assück, lays down some guest vocals on the track Chalk Maple.)

Gridlink - Longhena - 93%

Twin_guitar_attack, March 12th, 2014

Technical grindcore band Gridlink have released their third and final album Longhena, announcing that they will be splitting up after this release. But what a way to bow out. Ex-Discordance Axis frontman Jon Chang and co. have released an album of such intense ferocity, complexity and above all a real uniqueness, that they will take the final curtain having left an ugly, twisted scar of nuclear devestation on the face of grindcore, distorting it for all time. Intense brutality, melodic complexity, and all around genius make this certainly one of most unique grindcore records of all time.

Jon Chang’s screams are absolutely terrific, actually horrific in their passion and intensity, he really is (was) one of the best frontmen in grind, screaming like some sort of an enraged demon, his style suits the crazy music here perfectly, it’s absolutely ear pummelling. Added to his trademark style are some Atilla Csihar style creepy growls on “The Last Watcher” which are just awesome, and should have been used more throughout the album. Takafumi Matsubara’s guitar playing is just insane. Riff after riff are delivered at a million miles an hour, his is truly some of the fastest playing around. Staggering in it’s complexity, epic in it’s melodic sense, and crushingly brutal, the performance here is nothing short of monumental. And despite being intense as anything there’s a certain refinement to the riffs, and a lot of catchy melodies – no grind album has ever been close to as melodic as this has been. But this melody does not come as a sacrifice to brutality, and adding to the rapturous vocals and guitars, the drumming is simply an unrelenting barrage of blastbeats, and with an incredibly gnarly bass tone throughout the album, Gridlink create a wall of cacophonous, brutal, intelligent, and yet somehow beautiful noise. And maybe just to mess with the listener’s already partially pulverised brain further (or perhaps for a chance of recovery) there’s a 2 minute piece of beautiful violin playing stuck in the third track , making little sense in the context of the rest of the album. But it works, so why the hell not?

It’s really hard to describe the way such demonic fury and technical musicianship can work so well together, but it really does. How something can sound so completely unhinged, yet so complex and intelligent all at the same time is beyond words. Perhaps the best way to describe Longhena is like being hit by a speeding freight-train while studying quantum mechanics.

This is grind as you’ve never heard it before.

Originally written for

Number Of Fucks Given: 0 - 97%

HeySharpshooter, February 24th, 2014

It's always interesting to hear a band when they reach the curtain call. Longhena is Gridlink's declaration to the world: they are no more, history is devouring them and all they will leave behind is the resonance of their art through the ages. They frankly don't give a fuck what anyone thinks, because this is it. One last shot at codifying their identity into sonic form and leaving it for the masses to judge and disseminate among themselves. Longhena feels very much like an album made for the musicians who created it, and we all get to bask in that freedom of not giving two flying fucks.

You can probably guess what Longhena is all about. Grindcore, like much of Extreme Metal (yes, it's metal), is very much a genre of tradition and paradigms. Longhena has not need for such things, and both are ripped to shreds in melodic, Heavy Metal riffs and longing ambient pieces. In fact, it's debatable whether Gridlink were even trying to make a grindcore record here, or rather just some sort of distillation of their musical taste's and influences which includes healthy doses of traditional metal, grindcore, prog rock and ambient, all vigorously whipped together with a futuristic, Japanese cyber punk flavor and Jon Chang's legendary vocals and powerful, poetic prose.

Jon Chang. If I can fanboy out for a moment, I need to talk about Jon Chang. Not the man, as I don't personally know him, but Jon Chang the vocalist. If the end of Gridlink means one sad thing for me, it's the idea that this might be the last we hear of him as one of the defining vocalists of his generation. Many love his style and many hate his style. Others find it unimpressive. But when Chang provides vocals for a project, everyone know it is him: his manic, inhuman shrieks and throaty guttural grunts are simply unmatched within Extreme Metal in general, and when I was grinding out vocals for some shitty grindcore band that I really loved playing in(even if we were shitty), I tried to channel Chang in every performance. I tried to channel the wrath, disgust and complete humanity that Chang gave us on The Inalienable Dreamless. Often, when praising vocalists, especially Extreme Metal vocalists, we praise them for how they seem to have transcended their humanity and transformed in raging beasts, subterranean demons or longing banshees. But Chang's gift comes from the overwhelming, soul crushing humanity of his vocals. This is what makes him special, and for me the greatest Extreme Metal vocalist ever.

It helps Longhena that this is the best Chang has sounded since his time with Discordance Axis. It was hard not to noticed a down tick in intensity with Gridlink's previous releases and with Hayanio Daisuki, though this can be chalked up to the obvious throat damage of Chang's unhinged style surely has brought. But like the unhinged and off-kilter style of Longhena the album, Chang is clearly pulling out all the stops, throat be damned.

Grindcore be damned as well. From the opening sparkly and bouncy riff of "Constant Autumn," to the whirring Heavy Metal dual melody attack of "Ketsui" to the somber, dissonant Prog Metal sections of "Island Sun," Longhena declares itself separate from the classification. "Thirst Watcher" provides a moment of quiet introspection early in the album, as clean guitars twirl and dance with muted electronic sounds and a howling violin, and it certainly stands out as unlike anything you would have expected. Longhena does have some solid moments of what's mostly grindcore: "Chalk Maple" is still highly melodic, but feels like a good tech grind songs and features some brilliant guest vocals from Paul Pavolich of Assuck fame(man, this album can't be more awesome.) "Wartime Exception Law 2005" blasts through a mere 29 seconds of techy, lush grindcore and dissonant, off axis musical twisting, feeling pretty close to something off of Amber Gray or Orphan. Takafumi Matsubara is a relentless shred master, which he showed with Hayanio Daisuki, but he also shows a brilliant affinity for technical, metallic grindcore riffs and discordant compositions.

There is an undeniable current of beauty that flows through Longhena which gives it a feeling that seems so totally alien to Extreme Metal. Dare I say, Longhena sounds very... happy at times. Not that is doesn't have it's dark and somber moments("Island Sun"), but there is a very noticeable positive slant to the entire experience. Gridlink are having a hell of a lot of fun on with this material, and it's impossible not to smile along with them. It's all helped by a sparking, crystal clear production, but it feels perfectly appropriate considering the energy and positive vibes of the material. It's one of the most listenable and enjoyable, and highly addicting, releases I've heard, and without question the best Grindlink album.

Longhena is the musical equivalent of a walk off grand-slam; it's rare, it's powerful and it fucking wins the game. My love for grindcore and for Discordance Axis always kept me involved in Gridlink, but I'll be the first to admit I was not a massive fan of the project. It felt too much like Discordance Axis to me, just more Japanese and clean, and yet it lacked the massive intensity and wrath of hateful conviction. This makes Longhena also sorrowfully bittersweet, as it appears in their last moment Gridlink had developed a sound which helped them stand apart from the legacy of earlier progeny and walk a new, undiscovered musical path. Yet Longhena feels largely complete, as though nothing is really missing. Gridlink are gone, but Longhena remains and will be heard and appreciated for years to come

i.e. this is how you go out with a fucking bang


originally posted at

Neon Grinding Evangelism - 75%

autothrall, February 19th, 2014

Abandoning the Oni devil masks of their previous album covers for something more sleek and contemporary, one might also assume the music of Gridlink would follow the same course, but that's not wholly the case. Hands down one of the more curious and technical grindcore acts I've heard over the last decade, their third and final full-length outing Longhena is a breat...blast of fresh air amidst a largely stagnant scene of acts who perhaps too closely ape a small catalog of records from the mid 80s through the early 90s. In fact, structurally the music here seems to have evolved more from a dissonant post-hardcore aesthetic, dialed up to annihilation, rather than the more death metal-infused albums I usually come across, so this is more apt to appeal to fans of Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Discordance Axis, Melt-Banana and the faster-paced Dillinger Escape Plan tunes over Napalm Death and Terrorizer.

What makes Longhena ultimately so listenable is its pinpoint musicianship and variation. Most of the tracks are cut of a comparable, spastic fabric, but they're not afraid to jump genres entirely, like on the scintillating ambient string/guitar piece "Thirst Watcher". Granted, I wish they would have offered 2-3 more instances of such broad departure as 'breathers' amidst the typical turmoil, but being a grind group, it's not like they waste a lot of time battering away...the entire track list has blown (or drifted) by you in 22 minutes; they never just stand there with their dicks in their hands, but piss and flail wildly about and then collapse in on themselves. The rhythm guitar progressions infuse a lot of hyper-thrashing picking sequences with a lot of jarring minors which give that impression of DC/NY post-hardcore being played on fast-forward, but they'll also splay out some surprise trad/power metal guitar patterns (like the intro to "Look to Winward") or a few slower bricks of power chords before they do their impression of the Road Runner. During a number of the blasted elements, when vocalist Jon Chang is meting out his most vulpine snarls, I was even left with the impression of a bit of hi octane dissonant black metal if it were bisected by jumpy, mathematical break riffing.

In other words, Longhena is simply not the most predictable of these sorts of records, and that goes a long way when tunes have to impress you in 90 seconds or less. The drums are naturally intense, blasts all over the place, but they're also exhausting, so I found myself appreciating the fills and change-ups more than the constants. Bass has a nice, low curvature to fill out the rhythm guitars, but they're such a driving force that it often feels understated when it's not veering away from the root notes. I've come across so much of the Swedish-style d-beat/guitar tone penetrating grind and what's being lately dubbed as Entombed-core that Gridlink's more direct, punchy saturation seems distinct and refreshing, and while Chang's rasping and raving might not seem all that unique for the style, it fits the riffing like a glove, capitalizing on the incendiary songwriting, brief flash-fires that speckle a distraught urban landscape. The album isn't as futuristic and fashionable as you might guess by looking at the cover model, who seems like she's about to pilot an EVA mech. It's not 'cubicle grind' or anything of the sort, but it's adventurous enough to retain the attention span of its audience, and even if not incredibly memorable, an intense swan song to leave us pondering while we reattach our heads.