Triac (USA) - Pure Joy - Numb Grief-stricken Animals (2022)

No two bands hit their peak at the same time. Some bands release a perfect album early in their career, chasing that high for the rest of their output. Others take several releases to truly hit their stride, crystalizing into their best form after years.

Baltimore, Maryland's Triac is an extreme example of the latter, releasing what is easily its finest material 19 years into its existence. Since 2005's Dead House Dreaming, the band's sound has blended elements of sludge metal and noise rock with grindcore in ways that have varied with each incarnation of the band. The songs on Pure Joy - Numb Grief-stricken Animals are a hyperspeed, hyper-focused version of that formula, still recognizably Triac but honed to a knife's edge.

There are few grindcore albums where each instrument stands out the way the guitar, bass and drums stand out here. Kevin Bernsten's guitar is angular and nimble, occasionally delivering searing solos. Tim Mullaney's bass is monstrous, deep and corrosive and a standout among standouts. Jake Cregger's drumming can be textured and subtle or fast and punishing, depending on what the situation calls for. There are fills and solos, but seamlessly transitioned into some of the record's most violent moments.

Vocal duties are shared between Bernsten and Mullaney. They deliver a host of midrange barks, howls and shouts. Intense and careening, they match well with the controlled chaos of the instrumentation.

Much of the record is relentless, with blasting tracks like "Pure Joy" and "Coughed Up" only pausing for brief tempo changes. Songs like "Loathsome" and "Grief-Stricken" showcase more of the band's noisy, atmospheric side, with seasick guitar lines swaying against pounding drums, and sludgy bass stomping alongside roiling feedback. However, even these moments give way to blistering speed.

Everything across this album's 16-odd minutes is original, expertly delivered and devoid of excess. Every off-kilter riff and tortured bark is exactly where it needs to be. This is Triac's definitive statement as a band, and essential listening.  

Pure Joy - Numb Grief-stricken Animals is available digitally or on CD via Triac's Bandcamp.

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