After getting slowly warmed up with two EP releases, Atlanta-based grindcore trio Dead in the Dirt's first full-length, The Blind Hole, serves as the brilliantly heavy culmination of the band's development. Their short, furious songs are a rainbow of different shades of black, mixing grindcore blastbeats, long segments of squirming sludge metal, some grim crustpunk/powerviolence vocals, and even elements of late-'90s hardcore. Even further, Dead in the Dirt find a way to very subtly employ some of the hypnotic repetition and relentlessness of black metal, but they add it as such a fine detail that it could speed by unnoticed on first listen. With the album's 22 songs burning by in just under 24 minutes, the band has to pack all of the various parts of its sound tightly into its short blasts of aggression. The first four songs fly by in a total of less than two minutes, moving from the His Hero Is Gone-recalling screams of "Suffer" into the burning death metal of "The Blaring Eye" before coming down with the one-two punch of "Swelling" and "Strength Through Restraint," which dip down from breakneck blastbeats to feedback-laden sludge, recalling the best moments of West Coast powerviolence masters Man Is the Bastard. Some of the album's heaviness comes from its surprising clarity, with all of its messy and ugly sounds balanced with a precision not common in the fast-and-dirty world of grindcore recordings. "No Chain" stands out as a perfect example of the heaviness and power Dead in the Dirt have captured on this stunning debut LP, as it starts with a short bit of found-sound spoken poetry, giving the album a strangely calm pause before exploding into incredibly tight swells of metal riffing, Obituary-like growling vocals, sludgy micro-breakdowns, and even hardcore-styled group vocal shouts before ending its minute-and-20-seconds lifespan with a postscript of black metal guitar buzzing. Very rarely do bands sustain this kind of creativity and relentless push for an entire album, but Dead in the Dirt have crafted a filler-free classic for the hardcore genre. The versatility and strength of The Blind Hole will be impressive to anyone versed in hardcore's various hyper-splintered genres, mainly due to the band's ease when it comes to seamlessly combining so many different heavy styles.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas