If any of you listened to this US bands self-released “The Art Gospel of Aggravated Assault” from 2012 then you know that that release is one of the most violent grindcore albums you heard during that year and even now as I listened to it again the band have a lot to live up to in terms of sheer outright ferocity if that is the benchmark they are aiming at. “Cross Burner” is the bands fourth album and the moment “Schadenfreude” detonates from the speakers that intrinsic dementedness that infests their discography is firmly intact as the glass gargling vocals pour utter malice and scorn with every lyric syllable from start to finish. However what has changed with this album is the song writing by way of experimentation, as the opener calms to lead into a post hardcore poise of clamouring intensity sat on a bedrock of percussive nihilism.

“Bimoral Narcotic” returns to blasting furore with the acerbic vocals still deluging the song with an acidic assault linked to the grindcore outbursts as those post hardcore portions are inserted neatly allowing the guitar work to create an ominous post-apocalyptic eeriness that flows cohesively into “Man-Made Maker” with its drum fill sequence leading to the blasting cacophony which is utterly battering. Shifting focus is “Suicide Screed Of Total Invincibility” which has a very calm but menacing guitar hook, the drum beat clicks are equally intimidating as the song has a post hardcore angst yet follows a desolate slow atmospheric formula.

“Rat Heart” has a punk driven riff, delivered at high velocity with the drums driving through the song meshing it together as “Curse Of Birth” shifts focus back towards a more experimental style initially. I really do like the drum work on this album, its ever fluxing dynamics add considerable depth to the songs by coalescing the instrumentation into potent virulent assaults. There is an affinity to this album that is purely down to the unpredictability of the songs, yes you get straight up skin stripping grindcore like “Demise Of The Underdog” and Flight Of The Head Case” but you also get thought provoking yet intense tracks like “Fist First, Second To None” which has slow pervading terror yet no less manic when the song suddenly changes tempo in the last quarter. The massive bass riff on “Soft White And Paid For” is going to end up on a compilation in my car for gig journeys because it is immense, with its steadfast build up and schizoid and colossal riff break and incendiary intermittent blast phases. “Oath Of Unbeing” reminded me of newer era Napalm Death due to its quirky riff and again another car compilation track the songs manic aura is equally psychotic backed up again by the brilliant percussive work which continues into the weird “Misuse Abuse Reuse” which defies superlatives and is a rolling narrative and leaves just the closing “A List With Names On It” to completely annihilate the listener which it does and making you realise you might have just listened to the best grindcore album of 2017 and there certainly has been some great ones this year that’s for sure.

(9/10 Martin Harris)