My least favourite Merzbow records are the ones focused on his drumming (is that him drumming on Aqua Necromancer? Cos that record is an exception to my rule); they seem like a dull exercise in cock rock excess. Why am I talking about Merzbow here? Because Death Unit features drum maestro Chris Corsano, and in many ways Infinite Death sounds like one of Merzbow’s drumgasms. Yet Corsano is a much more sophisticated sticksman than Mr Akita and that makes all the difference. I love this record.
Infinite Death emphasises the twin-drum attack of Corsano and Trevor Tremaine (Hair Police). Their jazz-thrash backbone is wrapped up in synth squawks provided by Carlos Giffoni – who’s solo stuff hasn’t appealed to me so far, although I appreciate what he’s doing for the Noise scene – and blown out guitar mush provided by Brian Sullivan of Mouthus.
The first of the two tracks opens with some fantastic drum work from Corsano and Tremaine, lots of stumbling toms and sizzling cymbals before shit explodes into a balls-to-the-wall, skronky noise-fest. Each member throws everything they’ve got into the mix and makes sure it sticks. The resulting, throbbing mess is a shit load of fun and short enough not to get old.
The second track, recorded live, is where my heart lies though. It’s moodier, lengthier and more dynamic. Groaning bass tones expand into shuffling drums, the sound thickens up, dies off and then springs back for an orgiastic crescendo. I get spine tingling visions of these four guys with their arms flailing, hair whipping (except for Corsano, because, well, he’s bald) and generally thrashing their instruments. Muppets style.
As mentioned, there are strong similarities between this and Merzbow’s ‘drum’ records. But Infinite Death works so much better because there’s a group dynamic at work. Where Merzbow’s drumming has a masturbatory aspect to it, Death Unit is a collective focused on competing elements that compliment each other’s contribution to the whole. At the end of the day, though, this is loud and frenetic and multi dimensional. It might take a few listens to make out the entire jigsaw but fuck yeah it’s worth the effort. Artwork by Dominick Fernow of Prurient.