By Kevin Stewart-Panko
There are three indisputable facts of life: death, taxes and that Graf Orlock is the greatest cinema-grind band of all. Granted, they may be the only cinema-grind band, but if there is such a micro-genre, they top it based on merit, not by default.
Here, for those unaware, is their backstory: Aspiring film makers Jason Schmidt (guitar/vocals) and Alan Hunter (drums) were unceremoniously booted from UCLA’s film school for copyright infringement in their short film/dissertation, Destination Time Yesterday. In protest of their expulsion, and the fact that “Hollywood doesn’t make action films like they used to,” they did the natural thing and formed a grindcore band that makes heavy use of samples and various film dialogue for lyrics. Destination Time Today is their second full-length and final chapter in the “Destination Time” trilogy. And the Studio City, CA quartet have once again raised the bar, both for themselves and for any eventual entries into the world of cinema-grind.
Musically, Graf Orlock has always flirted with more melody and groove than your average heads-down blast-beating grind band. In previous critiques I’ve compared them to a cross between early Metallica and Pig Destroyer and I’m going to have to go back to that reference point. Their songs aren’t of the verse-chorus-verse variety, but rather awesome riff after awesome riff stacked one after the other in a way that draws you in, snags your attention and warrants repeated enjoyable listens. “Run Over by a Truck” and “Murder on the MTA” are excellent examples. The former is loaded with infectious, yet caustic guitars and a steady snare pattern as Hunter’s three other limbs mimic the songs’ direction, while the latter has hands flying all over frets like classic Assück butting heads with Groinchurn’s punk-ish classic, Whoami. “Pre-Retirement Nerves; ‘Cop Killers’” adds some tasty slide guitar to complement Sven Calhoun’s consistently sick bass tone and “The Days of High Adventure” is a Conan-centred monster with an ending that cannot be fucking denied!
As far as the packaging goes, Hunter, a talented graphic designer with a wealth of ridiculous ideas, has always made the most of the space available to him (Destination Time Tomorrow’s vinyl sleeve was a pop-up of the Alien chest buster and the CD was packaged in a face hugger from the same flick and sealed in a bio-hazard baggie) and they’ve gone even further off the deep end with this album. The vinyl comes in a gatefold jacket with one sleeve die-cut with a modified plastic insert making it look like you’re looking through rifle scope’s crosshairs. The lyric sheet features illustrations of eleven dead celebrities, politicians and notable historical figures (with sardonic blurbs about each) and you can fold it eleven different ways to place the individual of your choice in the crosshairs. Right now, I have Tupac Shakur staring down the rifle of my copy. I think I’ll squeeze Ronald Reagan or Lee Harvey Oswald in there next. The vinyl is on grey wax and also came with pins, stickers and a poster, though I think that was a pre-order deal. The CD version – due out on Level-Plane later this summer – is supposed to be a eight-panel digi-pack which folds out into the shape of a machine gun.
All this and their music fucking rules!