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Of the great American female-fronted intersectional powerviolence/grindcore surge of the 2010s only California’s Maladjusted, Iowa’s Closet Witch, and Michigan trio Cloud Rat have survived the purging of the subsequent soon-to-be decade. Internationally, German unit Svffer is still going strong and so is Riposte from Paris, France for that matter. In the nine years since explosive domestic - and international acts as Bastard Deceiver, Buried At Birth, Curmudgeon, Deathrats, Necklacing, Sacridose, Idiots Parade, and Rape Revenge all came to an end. In the four years since the superb "Qliphoth" Cloud Rat traveled the world playing shows, released a number of different splits, and later compiled them on the "Clipped Beaks // Silk Panic MMXVIII" double-album. With “Pollinator” Mount Pleasant’s most celebrated export returns in grand form in what is easily their most incendiary since 2013’s “Moksha”. The "Do Not Let Me off the Cliff" companion EP was released simultaneously, compiling all of the more eclectic material written and recorded during the “Pollinator” sessions.

Not a lot has changed in the Cloud Rat camp since they started out in 2009. Stability is what has allowed Cloud Rat to become the force of nature they are today. The only significant change is co-founder/drummer Adrian Lee Manges bading his farewell after "Qliphoth". The then-quartet was reduced back to its original trio format with electronics man Brandon Hill switching to drums. In recent years the trio have taken to recording with J.C. Griffin at Lakebottom Recording House in Toledo, Ohio. In the past they’ve worked with Brian Uhl, Fernando Pena, and Jonia Whitney for artworks, but more recently they’ve taken a liking to the drawings of Renata Rojo. What hasn’t changed (and probably never will) is that Cloud Rat understands the simple principle that “less is more”. Their recordings are utilitarian and minimalist. Not in the sense that they are underproduced, but that they are plain, honest representations of their sound. Overproduction is the bane of underground metal, especially in grindcore/powerviolence.

“Pollinator” very much dispenses with any and all pleasantries and cuts straight to the chase. Cloud Rat hasn’t been able to survive this long and remain this prolific for no reason. Their self-titled debut from 2011 was legendary in underground circles. Infamous even, if you will. In the tradition of the best Napalm Death and Nasum records it fired off 11 songs in 18 very short minutes. Every pressing ever sold out in record time. After two records of straight-up grindcore Cloud Rat stretched their legs and experimented a bit on "Qliphoth". Grungy guitars, ambient electronics, post-metal melodies, and a more pronounced hardcore-punk bend have been part of the Cloud Rat arsenal arguably since “Moksha”. "Qliphoth" built thereupon but never betrayed the band’s primal grind/hardcore past. Madison and her men will probably never pen something as misguided as “Fear, Emptiness, Despair”, “Darker Days Ahead”, or “Head Cage”. Which won’t stop them from throwing in a bit of experimentation, mostly by covering the unexpected non-genre song here and there. “Moksha” had the Neil Young cover ‘The Needle and the Damage Done’, “Clipped Beaks” had ‘Fish In A Pool’ from Electric Deads, and Cloud Rat takes on the popular evergreen ‘Al Di Là’ as sung by crooners Emilio Pericoli, Betty Curtis, Jerry Vale, Sergio Franchi, and Al Martino here. The only somewhat experimental cut is ‘Luminiscent Cellar’ that starts out as a dreamy shoegaze song before turning into a black as pitch semi-sludgy droning doom cut that could have come from Burning Witch. ‘Perla’ is a truly phenomenal closer to a record that recombines everything of past albums.

Speak of intense. After a decade in the studio and on the road Madison Marshall still sounds as fiendishly pissed off as ever. What a voice and range this woman has. If we were to compare Marshall to anybody it would be J.R. Hayes from Pig Destroyer, late Nasum frontman Mieszko Talarczyk, and Benümb’s Pete Ponitkoff. Madison combines the thousand voices of Hayes with the intensity of Talarczyk, and the percussive guttural delivery of Ponitkoff. Which was pretty much anything and everything she did on the first two records. That never stopped her from integrating spoken word as far back as the 2011 self-titled. From “Moksha” onward, and on "Qliphoth" in particular, Marshall really came into her own and impressed thoroughly. It almost makes you hope she’d invite Veronica Mars (Buried At Birth), Christine Cunniff (Deathrats), Jaydee Perales (Sacridose), Petra from Idiots Parade, or the Closet Witch herself, Mollie Piatetsky, to provide some growls and screams on whatever they commit to tape in the next few years. Madison is on fire on this album, and a decade hasn’t dulled her in the slightest. She sounds absolutely friggin’ livid. Can you really blame her? Stupid White Men are pillaging the nation. America has become a backwards banana republic and the laughingstock of the civilised world. She has every right to be freaking indignant.

In 2009 Cloud Rat was just another newcomer in a counterculture scene bursting at the seams with young talent. Today the Michiganders are experienced veterans and an institution in their own right. They are slightly more poetic, sophisticated in ways that many of their peers are not; but above all else, they put their money exactly where their mouth is. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and in times of rampant anti-intellectualism, the cult of 45, the erosion of civil rights, and deliberate ignorance and increased backwardness borne from religious fervor and imagined persecution a band like Cloud Rat is needed now more than ever. In these dark Orwellian times where Nineteen Eighty-Four is no longer a work of fiction but our shared reality; when terms as “post-truth” and “alternative facts” are used unironically by elected officials with such alarming frequency that they’ve become commonplace. Facism has reared its ugly face in your favorite colors red, white, and blue; and it carries a Bible in one hand, and a gun in the other. Promises to “drain the swamp” have become an open invitation to join the scalping. Charlatans, grifters, con men, and swindlers man just about every position of power. The One-Percenters are rewriting legislation on the books. As Queensrÿche asked in 1988, “who can you trust when everybody’s a crook?



Idiots Parade, arguably Slovakia’s most visible female-fronted grindcore band, formed in Zvolen during 2004 as a successor to the earlier unit Tay Gatto. In all probability  the power trio took its name from the Nasum song ‘The Idiot Parade’ of their 2000 album “Human 2.0”. As the album title suggests this comprehensive 47 track compilation spans the band’s entire recorded history, including all of the band’s official releases, splits, and previously unreleased material. It commences with the most recent release “R.I.P.”, and works its way backward chronologically to the band’s earliest rehearsal recordings.

Central to Idiots Parade is frontwoman Petra, along with rhythm section Mato (bass guitar), and Jan (drums). The band is rounded out by guitarist Robert, who during the later stages of the trio’s career was duly replaced by Filip. The true calling card of the band is its energetic frontwoman Petra. Her high-octane vocal performance is completely over-the-top, and hysterical in its rabid intensity. A comparison could be made to Madison Marshall from Michigan grinding hardcore power trio Cloud Rat. As Idiots Parade comes from a hardcore background it isn’t very surprising to hear the bass guitar as prominent as it does. Likewise are none of the band’s releases overproduced in any capacity. Most of the lyrics deal with socio-political subjects, including but not limited to anti-capitalism, consumerism, the military-industrial complex – and introspective themes.

As a historical document “Idiotsgraphy (2003-2013)” had the arduous task of bringing together all of the band’s official releases, split albums, compilation tracks, and various assorted odds and ends. The disc consists of the "R.I.P." 5" EP (2013), the 2010 split with SayWhy?, the four tracks from the “This Comp Kills Fascists” session, and all the songs of the split with Abortion. The second half of the record compiles a number of unreleased recordings from 2006, along with the material from the “Sekec Mazec #4” 7" EP (2006). The anthology is fittingly concluded by the tracks from the band’s 2005 rehearsal demo, and its contribution to the Accomplice tape from 2005. Also included are covers from the band’s local and international contemporaries and inspirations such as Mäso (Slovakia), Sangre de Cristo (Slovakia), V.O.K.K., and Charles Bronson (US)

11018652_660385457421918_1138536963495326820_nThe “R.I.P.” material resembles Flesh Parade (“Kill Whitey”, in particular) closely. The growled backing vocals even don’t feel out of place. Petra’s vocals on the material for the split with SayWhy? are strangely subdued, muffled and whispered in parts – although they get better during the second half. One of the band’s biggest accomplishments was featuring on the second installment of the Scott Hull curated “This Comp Kills Fascists” series of compilations in 2010 that were released through Relapse Records. The four tracks of said compilation were among the band’s better produced efforts. Notable is that the band’s 2005 demo material is far thicker sounding than any of its later material.  Regardless of release the drum tone here is overall better than on many contemporary death metal releases. Like genre pillars Agathocles, and Nasum, before them Idiots Parade is able to do much with very little. While many songs barely clock over a minute the amount of dynamics and diversity that these cuts hold can be matched by few.

“Idiotsgraphy (2003-2013)” was released in a variety of formats on a swath of different European labels. It was released CD format on French grindcore specialist label Bones Brigade Records in 2014. Additionally, the compilation was released on cassette tape format by British label imprint Grindfather Productions. German label T.V.G. Records handled the LP release. Each of these various versions has it own distinct artwork differentiating it from the other. Interesting to note is that only the Bones Brigade Records print has a slightly different title with “Idiotsgraphy (2005-2013)”. Of all the different versions the Bones Brigade print is the most traditional looking while the other two versions accentuate the band’s DIY/hardcore ethos more with the handdrawn art.

Having all of the band’s recordings on a single disc proves just how consistent Idiots Parade was with its chosen style. From its 2005 rehearsal material to its swansong 2013 EP the quartet never compromised its vision and/or DIY ethos. Even though the production values increased from one effort to the next, Idiots Parade never surrendered to industry – or peer pressure to become a more marketable asset. The band was helped tremendously by the stellar performance of the delightful Petra. Her shrieks, wails and yells are among the strongest in the genre, and hopefully she’ll resurface sooner rather than later.  On all fronts is “Idiotsgraphy (2003-2013)” is a fitting eulogy to one of Slovakia’s most promising if shortlived grindcore units.