Chadhel (Quebec) - Failure//Downfall (2022)


Chadhel's Model

You needn't think I'm crazy—plenty of others have worst tastes in music than grindcore. Why don't you laugh at those black metal kids who killed each other over lo-fi fantasy club clout? If I don't like that damned metal, it's my own business; and we're here to discuss grindcore anyhow. 

     Well, if you must hear it, the last I heard from Chadhel was in April of 2021 after the split 10 inch between them and Assiduous Assault. No, I don't know what's become of Assiduous Assault. I do know that Chadhel subsequently rereleased their side of the split, entitled Welcome To Your Doom, on CD, cassette, and even a small batch of lathe cut records; sans Assiduous Assault, obviously. 
     You may recall that Chadhel's forte is a guitar heavy, well burnished form of death-grind haling from the frigid lands of south central Québec—you know Chadhel comes from old francophone stock. 
    It takes profound art and profound talent to turn out grindcore like Chadhel's. Any mincecore hack can blast around wildly and call themselves the next Mesrine, but only a great artist can make truly outstanding grindcore. Saguenay, Québec never had a greater band than les messieurs Chadhel.

    At present, Chadhel's latest opus comes in the form of their new sophomore full-length album, Failure//Downfall. An album as lustrous as it is technically proficient. As it should be, Failure//Downfall arrived as a refinement and furtherance compared to the previous year's Welcome To Your Doom. Production hereafter is very polished and punched-up, exhibiting a sharp piercing high-end and a thick heavier bottom. Much of this dense weight is due in part to the massively impactful drumming. You can feel each strike of the kick drum and the cataclysmic hacking from the blast beats. 
    As you know the drum work is a crucial component. Aside from just it's violent bulk, it's a tight mangling of blast beats and rolls between the snare and the twin toms. The death metal gnashing of the double bass pedals over the hammering snare is staunch and oppressive. While tracks like "Filling Up The Void With Nothing" subdue the pedals into head tottering trots. 
    Unfortunately, a common trait amongst grindcore kith and kin is the dithering bass guitar. With the exception of some emphasized solos and intros in songs such as "Apostle Of Hatred," "EatxBlastxDie" and "Degraded Loathsome Faith," the bass guitar on the record is subtle to scarce. The boosted bass during it's moments of significance during mastering was a smart move, but it's quite diminished otherwise; which may possibly be of no concern to some. In spite of this, the bass guitar plays an intrinsic roll in Chadhel's current thunderous production. Like the thick effluence of a dossal fog, the bass can be felt more than it can be outright heard, and when it is heard it grumbles with a dark seething convulsion which only benefits the album's heavy sound. 
     Chadhel's true charm is the guitar, of course. The guitar work is a savage flogging of piercing chords that writhe and throe over themselves like some maimed leviathan. The squealing and mewling discordant chords lurch in alarm amongst the severe and crushing palm-muted riffs. The tarantula-legged fretwork weaves a sinister web of spastic distortion and palpable gloom. 
    You recall that I had once compared Chadhel's guitar playing to that of Pig Destroyer's Scott Hull, and I still believe this to be true. Yet, I believe Chadhel to be much better as they manage to avoid getting bogged down in an oubliette of riff tedium. Chadhel's tone is that of a very modern tone, much in the vein of contemporary deathcore bands—a tearing sound that digs and bites. Failure//Downfall is much akin to that current genre's sound, even including a manufactured "bass drop" of sorts in the aptly named, "Modern Methods of Aggression."  
    Much as the guitar, the dog-thing vocals that Chadhel's lead vocalist is baying out through clenched breaths is not too dissimilar to the spattering growls of Pig Destroyer's J.R. Hayes. Yet, thankfully Chadhel offer a variety in vocals with the lower registered duel backing gutturals. This sound and structure of the riffs and vocals is very reminiscent of Pig Destroyer's Phantom Limb and Book Burner albums. Specifically, elements of "Loathsome" and "The Diplomat" come to mind. 

    Now, Failure//Downfall isn't without it's trials and tribulations. While the album is by far the band's finest work and certainly reaches the greatest depth within their caliber, my qualms are more related to my prominence in being minutely fastidious and obdurate in opinion. 
    For instance the mix—again being the band's finest—I felt it was possibly, too refined. The cleaner, more polished production, while giving us a clearer view of each instrument, distributes said clarity unfairly. The kick drum as a whole is very triggered sounding and overly high in the mix. 
    The snare, like the kick drum, has a dull triggered tone about itself that sticks out to the observant ear. The snare sounds as if the strainer release was disengaged leading to a situation in which the kick overshadows the snare during the blast beats. Now if you remember, this similar kit tone can be heard as far back as Controversial Echoes of Nihilism, and is clearly an artistic decision that hasn't been of previous concern. Only now the album's polish has given it more discernibility here. But perhaps this is more my idiosyncrasies than a folly of the studio.
    Now, I’m what the man in the street would call fairly “hard-boiled,” but I’ll confess that what I heard on a track from this album gave me a bad turn. Alas, I was disturbed from that of a song entitled, "Magnifying Prism Of Erratic Behavior." Briefly and fleetingly I heard a sound which somehow set me all in gooseflesh—clean vocals! This was wholly unexpected and never repeated elsewhere in the album. I dropped Cult Leader for this very reason some years ago. As a more puritanical man of grindcore I believe this to be the ultimate betrayal. 
    Yet, innovative art doesn't shock me, and when a band has the genius Chadhel has I feel it an honour to know them, no matter what direction their work takes.

    From it's commencement song—"Wasteland Overlord," which plays like a peace punk preamble spoken word sample over somberly strummed chords, like an echo from my youth—to it's denouement oeuvre, "Death By A Thousand Cuts," Chadhel have birthed a crushing second coming of churning ichthyic blasting despair. Brilliant and blasphemous—Failure//Downfall is a well-established horror-world of sharp, dismally aggressive and doggedly brutal death-grind—in conception and in execution. 
    And the ending, by God the ending. That obscenely licentious track with it's sordid witticism. An inappropriate, out of context quip, surely culled up by some private jesting to which we aren't privy to. Yes, that epilogue of the entire album is, as you know, well—as if the band wasn't taking things seriously at all.

FFO: Pig Destroyer, Wormrot, Discordance Axis, Cthugha, Gur'la-ya, Sheb-Teth

[Originally posted on January 20, 2023, Return to the House of Grindcore]

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