Baltimore grindcore/powerviolence band Triac is coming up on their twentieth anniversary in 2023 but have just recently released their second full-length Pure Joy - Numb Grief-stricken Animals. It’s not uncommon to hear musicians say they favor quality over quantity, but in Triac’s case it feels warranted as they’ve tended to stick with the occasional split or EP for much of their career. This album comes nearly six years after their last recorded output and brings some major changes with it, as longtime bassist Chad Heath left the band and Genocide Pact’s Tim Mullaney has taken over. Even with a significant lineup shift and an extended period of time between releases, Triac’s material hasn’t been dulled at all and shows they’re only getting better with age.
What’s stood out about this group over the years is their combination of precision and variety. They can straight up blast and groove with the best of them, but a lot of other elements tend to seep in and you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get in between each blast. This holds true throughout Pure Joy - Numb Grief-stricken Animals, as despite the fact that there aren’t any songs that reach two minutes on the album each one crams in as much as it can in that short span of time. Tracks like “Growing Meat” have an almost Converge type swagger in between aggressive blasting, while others channel a bit of sludge and noise rock before launching right back into the speed. Long-time drummer Jake Cregger continues to be a big asset for Triac, as he not only keeps up with the frantic shifts of the guitars and bass but throws in some rhythmic variation that moves beyond moving from one blast to the next. Everything flies by quickly, but there are individual moments that stand out and that makes a big difference. This is also one of the best sounding efforts the band has put out to date, as it’s dense and weighty without obscuring the details. Triac may still be experimenting with the stop/start approach and fusing in elements of other genres alongside grind and powerviolence similar to what they’ve done since their earlier days, but they’ve continued to naturally push outwards and still add in new ideas.
Vocals are split between Kevin Bersten and Tim Mullaney, and while I’m not sure who’s doing which pitch I did notice that there’s a greater emphasis on high screams/shrieks than before. Right from the beginning of “Pure Joy” listeners are greeted with very abrasive screams that sound like they could punch directly through a brick wall. That’s not all Triac has to offer though, as you’ll hear all sorts of highs and lows as you make your way through the remainder of the album. This could be guttural growls and yells to some extremely distorted and off the wall ones, and this ensures that the vocals regularly match the instrumentals in intensity. Chances are the first time through will just be a blur, and on repeat listens you’ll start to pick out all the different things that are happening.
In the last few months a lot of quality grind has come out, with bigger names like Wormrot, Napalm Death, and Antigama taking a lot of the spotlight. But I would argue that Triac has the crazy intensity and standout riffs to be up there with the others, and it’s clear that their current lineup might be the most lethal yet. Prepare for a bludgeoning but expect this one to keep you wanting to come back once the dust has settled. Pure Joy - Numb Grief-stricken Animals is available from RSRecords.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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