Psionic Madness - Rotting Dominion (Vargheist)

Jared Moran (aka Cave Ritual, aka Plaguehammer) is one of the busiest people in underground metal.  According to Encyclopedia Metallum, the prolific multi-instrumentalist is in approximately 70 active bands spanning a multitude of spliced and diced genres.  He explores carnivalesque, eldritch blackened tech death in Acausal Intrusion; misshapen, tomb-lurking old school death metal (OSDM) in Occulsed; ballistic raw black metal (BM) in Feral Lord; art-damaged dissodeath in Out of the Mouths of Graves; and now radioactive sewer-mutant deathgrind in Psionic Madness.  The man literally does it all, and there's a vibey, numinous throughline threading all his work.

Rotting Dominion is the most recent burnt offering to Moran's abyssal gods, and like most his work, it only loosely conforms to the trappings of its identified sub-genre.  This is much headier and more atmospheric than most contemporary deathgrind, partially because it emphasizes the 'death' over the the 'grind' (just look at those song lengths), but also due to its keen attention to textural detail.  It's clear that someone fussed over the guitar and bass tones, and the drums hit with a spiky punch accentuating their herky-jerky entropy.  Splashes of reverb garnish all the right places, and together, all of these elements slot neatly into a gritty but discernibly stratified mix. 

The best deathgrind strikes a careful balance between violent blast beats and the brutish, tempo-shifting grooves that often follow them.  Indeed, the tension created by this back-and-forth makes the sub-genre one of the most explosive and downright urgent in extreme metal.  Bands like Caustic Wound, Jarhead Fertilizer, and Coffin Nail have recently found success with this approach, adorning grind's rusted barbed wire skeleton with the garish, rotting viscera of death metal.  Psionic Madness operate in this lane while adding fresh colors to the gory palette. Although they sound addled and impatient, a few of the more melodic riffs on Rotting Dominion have a baleful, dirge-like quality that was likely lifted from doom metal.  Meanwhile, the dexterous bass lines and unorthodox drumming borrow from proggier strains of brutal DM (check your pockets, Defeated Sanity), and the ragged, blown-out production (the haywire guitar leads sound like they are draining a power grid) reminds me of that desolate section of the Venn diagram where noise and post-metal cohabitate.  If The Body made a grind album, it might sound something like this, at least in terms of tonal abrasiveness.   

But in the end, don't let the aesthetic subtleties steal the show.  Despite its nuanced influences and experimental bent, Rotting Dominion is a deathgrind record to its core—and savage deathgrind, at that.  Thanks to the deranged and clever songwriting, each one of these tracks seethe with a spastic and efficient brutality.  It's one circuit-blowing riff after another, without a wasted moment.