Produced by Happy Face. Engineered. mixed and mastered by Benoit Brionne. Recorded October–November 2004 at Newdream Studios, Descartes, France. Released on Anticulture Records Ltd, 2004.
When I pulled Happy Face from my shelves this time last week, judging on the name alone I really wasn’t expecting it to be the (English) name of a French death metal/grindcore band. Let it never be said that the metal community has no sense of humour or that the French don’t understand irony.
Having slid the CD into my PC’s optical drive I then had to decide what software to use to rip it to MP3. I’ve been a longtime user of WinAmp, but it’s in transition just now waiting for a new version to be released and the Gracenote music database look-up feature has expired. So for the first half of the week I’ve been using Apple iTunes, and for the second half the rather splendid Music Bee. If I could be bothered and I had the requisite programming skills I would definitely write my own music player as I’ve really not found anything that meets my needs anywhere close to 80%, let alone 100%. If you are a Windows user, what do you use? Leave me a comment, please.
Anyway, let me pretend that I’ve found my ideal music player, put on my happy face and return to un visage heureux…
All grindcore albums are inevitably going to be compared to a certain West Midlands metal band at one point or another… and on my first play through of this album Happy Face definitely put me in mind of Napalm Death, early Fear Factory such as Concrete (1991). And Stormtroopers of Death: “Wrugh” (track 5) sounds inspired in part by the Milano mosh!
There isn’t much variation to this album, to be honest. The whole album lasts a little under 25 minutes, and it’s one blast-beaten slab of staccato-ed grindcore after the next. This is the kind of extreme music I used to listen to a lot more as a teenager.
The guitars sound very down-tuned (many of the tracks riff along a low B: 7-string guitar, maybe?). There aren’t solos as such, just the occasional squeak and squeal. It’s a very bass-y sounding album, and very rhythmic: organically industrial sounding, if that’s not too much of a contradiction.
The vocals are gutteral, like Spike Milligan’s Goon Show character ‘Throat’! With the odd scream thrown in for good measure. You can’t really make out any of the lyrics; well, I can’t. They may be in English, the cover booklet doesn’t give it away, either. Although given that the liner notes are all in English it’s a good guess.
What more is there to say? It’s a darn heavy album in the genre-ballpark of Napalm Death. I dare say if you like them then you’ll like this too.
I liked the album. I’m not ecstatic about it, but it’s a quality album, well recorded, well written, and interesting enough without becoming entirely formulaic or predictable.
Review score: 70%