Gridlink - _Longhena_
(Selfmadegod Records / Handshake Inc., 2014)
by: Dan Lake (9 out of 10)
Any non-grindfreaks can be forgiven for not having given much attention to Gridlink thus far. The geographically scattered collection of speed lovers rarely played live, and their two previous "albums" have been sub-twelve minute odes to lo-fi spastic madness -- good, but not special enough to rise above multitudes of other bands aspiring to early-onset phalangeal osteoporosis. Of course, the true grind warriors know that Gridlink included frontman Jon Chang of Discordance Axis, whose album _The Inalienable Dreamless_ is widely considered a pinnacle of the genre. Still, nothing really made Gridlink a must-listen phenomenon. Until now.

You may notice that Gridlink was referenced above in the past tense: Upon its release, _Longhena_ was immediately tagged by the band as their final record. _Longhena_'s incredibly high caliber, though, makes that choice both disappointing and unassailable. _Longhena_ is devastating and it is beautiful -- a perfect conclusive statement that simultaneously will make fans wish there were chapters yet untold.

Vocalist Chang lays all the blame for _Longhena_'s superb blend of grace and ferocity at the feet of guitarist Takafumi Matsubara, who orchestrated the album's pace and constantly ratcheting tension to mimic a bullet hell game. The first percussionless chords, while mildly dissonant, aptly set a regal stage for the bursts of tonal color that pour from Matsubara's guitar. Somehow, Gridlink have found a way to focus very tight, extraordinarily musical structures into the agitated confines of grind. And just as the violence hits its first stride, "Thirst Watcher" arrives to bless the listener with two minutes of sweetly bowed violin strings wrapped around tenderly picked electric guitar notes. That violin, heard on various sections of the 23-minute album, is manned by Joey Molinaro, whose violin interpretation of _The Inalienable Dreamless_ caught Chang's attention and assured Molinaro a slot on the new record.

_Longhena_ is blindingly fast and brilliantly emotional, like a Mozart opera played by the Locust. Most heavy music this year won't come near this combination of proficiency and profound personal expression. Goodbye, Gridlink. We will remember you this way forever.


(article published 7/7/2014)

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