Grindcore is a fringe genre, not in the sense that it exists on the fringes of metal or hardcore, but in the sense that it exists on the very fringe of music. Its leanings towards extremes, chaos, noise and its general lack of respect for conventions often leads to bands having to walk a fine line between noise and music. However, as it is with all things, the tendency for the extreme does sometimes lead bands into coveting extremism for extremism’s sake (or simply letting this sense of “extreme” lead their output,) resulting in way too little by way of solid foundations on top of which to build a sound.
And then you have bands like Serrabulho, who spit on the face of anything resembling cohesion. Apropos, the deliberately awful party trick that is their newest full-length, Pornthugal, is so far detached from anything even remotely serious despite the amount of serious talent that went into this strange shitstorm. Let’s see: you have grindcore, punk, death, slam (yes), party metal, show tunes, kid show jingles and some pieces of what I believe used to be the kitchen sink bundled together in as ridiculous a package as you should expect from this album title, track list and cover art.
That is to say that Pornthugal consists of some very wild and sharp turns into territories you cannot possibly anticipate. Blink and you’ll wake up in a land so far from Kansas that you can’t even see Kansas from where you are. If that’s too metaphorical, put it like this: the song Pito Sem Penas opens with violins, steamrolls over that with the more “metal” side of things before suddenly devolving into a gypsy-like, folk sing-along bridge. The next song, Os Tintins do Tintin has vocals doing pig squeals, snorts and high-pitched poodle barks (I cannot make this up!) laid on top of your more grindy guitars. Then BBC Wild Life comes along and opens with a shitty kid-show electronic jingle before proceeding to move forward with more thrash-metal like passages…
…as you may be gathering, Pornthugal is very difficult to pin down. It doesn’t help that the vocals alternate between pig squeals and wordless pig snorts that make you miss the bree-bree. Par for the course, but I think there could be a better way to do this.
See, the main issue with Pornthugal is that it’s a funny album not because it’s witty or particularly humorous. I wasn’t laughing with the band or laughing because I enjoyed the ridiculous sound. I was laughing at this album because as outlandish as it is, it’s forgettable and overall not worth its running length. The deliberate refuge in the sheer audacity of it all doesn’t last very long and then the album just goes on. The songs are so disconnected in themselves and at the same time so similar that they don’t really engage the listener and the album as a whole doesn’t have anything needed to sink in. The bone-dry production doesn’t help.
So if you are into this or similar Rotten Roll Rex bands, give this a go. I can’t, in good conscience, recommend it to anyone else.