I reviewed Henry Kane’s (actually, the grind alias of Death Metal royalty Jonny Petersson) last album for this very publication, giving it a 7/10, though with more repeated listens, I should have awarded it an 8, as several of the tracks from that collection made their way into my playlists for the year. Well, three years later and Henry Kane are back. Is “Age of the Idiot” a worthy successor?
In a word: “yes”.
Age of the Idiot takes everything that I liked about that last Henry Kane album, and builds on it. At the centre of all this are punchy, sub two minute takes on crusty grindcore. So sure, there are reminders of death metal to be found here, but this output has much more in common with the likes of Napalm Death and Nasum than it does any of the Swedish death metal pantheon. There’s a really natty ear for being able to pack some great hooks and ideas into the rapid-fire attack of the songs too. The title track, “Age of the Idiot” is one such example – some surprisingly disarming harmonies can be found among the bombast and fury of the grind attack. Elsewhere, dynamism can be found when the lights-speed tempo gives way to disconcerting doom vibes, as with the monolithic “Entrenched in Nihilism”.
To be fair, Transcending Obscurity are a great label with a fantastic knack of presenting great music, and “Age of the Idiot” might be right up there for me in terms of being top-tier quality. The production on this bad boy is beefier than a herd of cows, but without losing that all-important aura of filth and grime that every crusty music platter should be caked in. Special mention here needs to be made of Jonny’s vocals – really straddling that fine line between atonal bellowing, like some deranged early Discharge shouting, and the more typical extreme metal shouts. Despite packing in 19 tracks on this bad boy, Henry Kane don’t run out of ideas, managing to have enough great tracks to be able to keep attention throughout. Ragers like “Keep us from the Truth” seems designed to inflict terror on live audiences (remember them, quarantiners?), and it’d be great to experience this live.
In the age of the Tangerine Nightmare being at the helm of the free world, “Age of the Idiot” seems to be an apt and on-point collection of anthems for our times. Not only does it contain the anger and fury that seems all pervasive at the moment, but damn if it doesn’t bring enough musical moments of interest to keep your attention too. If there is any justice in the world, this should see Henry Kane mentioned with the A Grade of Grind.
(8.5/10 Chris Davison)