Circle of Dead Children - _Zero Comfort Margin_
(Earache Records, 2005)
by: Jackie Smit (8 out of 10)
Considering their place in the bong-fuelled legacy of grindcore, it's ironic that Earache should have fallen off the genre's map to the extent that they have over the course of the last few years. You could argue that bands like The Berzerker have gone some way toward closing the divide, but in reality _Dissimulate_ would have some way to go to be classed in the same league as an album like _Scum_. That said, Pennsylvania's Circle of Dead Children fare significantly better at it helping Earache scale the heights of extremity they ascended to in the heyday of Brutal Truth and Napalm Death.

Although hardly producing the same sort of inventive, mind-bending noise that bands in the Relapse stable have been dropping over the last eighteen months, _Zero Comfort Margin_ doesn't take long to grab one's attention as the band launch into a plethora of hyperfast riffs that hit with all the subtlety of a rhino horn to the groin. Plying a more traditional brand of grindcore, the music is gruffly produced, technically exceptional and, at times, even quite catchy. It's the subtle nuances of tracks like "A Homage to Tombstone Granite", awash in cascades of discordant guitars, that elevate the record beyond several of its peers though. And even if the record is a tad on the short side -- fifteen songs crammed into a mere twenty minutes -- _Zero Comfort Margin_ provides enough of a jolt to serve as an adequate apology from Earache to the fans it seemingly left by the wayside for the last few years.


(article published 17/10/2005)

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