Gaza - No Absolutes in Human Suffering
Black Market Activities
Grindcore Sludge
11 songs (43:16)
Release year: 2012
Official MySpace, Black Market Activities
Reviewed by Koeppe

Gaza returns this year spitting vitriol once again. The band has no lack of animosity towards American conservatism and organized religion. However, the improved songwriting on this album might finally make it possible for the message to be dwarfed by the musicianship.

For the uninitiated, Gaza’s sound relies on heavy, downtuned riffing, a plodding rhythm section and Jon Parkin, the vocalist, decrying religion for its sins with a guttural howl. Their influences from grind provide them with that predilection to cacophony, while the sludgy moments in their sound draws out the downtuned aspects into hypnotic repetitions that pummel one’s ears.

The album opens with, Mostly Hair and Bones Now, which starts with a quaint little intro before the tempo shifts and incites neck-snapping of all varieties. The pounding opening minutes of When They Beg provide an amazing contrast to the almost post-rock closing to the song. Minutes like that operate so much better for the whole than past efforts to include interludes, i.e., breathing room, into their albums. The closing track Routine and Then Death displays them finally being able to create those dissonant soundscapes and atmosphere, a la Neurosis, that they seem to have been flirting with on past albums, and it complements their sound so well. The only track that dawdles is the title track, due to a subpar riff while Parkin chants the title repeatedly. Conceptually, it packs the intensity that Gaza strives for, but it falters in execution. Ultimately, however, this album is a much more consistent and cohesive presentation than their past works of what they do in terms of being heavy and mean.

I really want to look past the content of the music in order to focus on the music as such, but Gaza is too smart for their own damn good. Take these lyrics from The Truth Weighs Nothing:

It sure was nice of Jesus to take time away from ignoring
Ethnic cleansing genocide and famine bloated children
Or regrowing limbs for landmine victims
To help you score that touchdown
To help you find your keys
To help you land that promotion.

Perfectly sardonic and snarky. But where this song really shines is following that verse, a chugging riff kicks in and Parkin chants/yells the phrase, THE TRUTH WEIGHS NOTHING, before the song breaks down into frantic riffing and heavy drumming. It is hard to argue that Parkin’s vocals are some of the most intense in the business, putting him in league with Kat Katz, JR Hayes, or Travis Ryan albeit in his own unique way. Parkin is just one tall, angry, scary, lanky motherfucker.

Once again, we’re faced with the dilemma: did this band write their best album to date or does Kurt Ballou naturally perfect a band’s sound with his production skills? Where past Gaza works had moments of monotony or stretches of awkwardness, this album is really the band at the height of their career. If their past works didn’t click with you or if you just haven’t given these guys a chance then it might be time to rethink those decisions.

Killing Songs :
The Truth Weighs Nothing, The Crown, When They Beg, Mostly Hair and Bones Now
Koeppe quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Gaza that we have reviewed:
Gaza - He Is Never Coming Back reviewed by Khelek and quoted 82 / 100
Gaza - I Don't Care Where I Go When I Die reviewed by Khelek and quoted 80 / 100
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