Nottingham has always been a melting pot for heavy music. For a small city, it has boasted more than its fair share of genre defining bands and artists, not to mention record labels. Bands cross-pollinate, form projects and offshoots and play one-off gigs that would result in lengthy careers and world tours if they had happened across the Atlantic. It has always been like that there. No big deal (but yet, a really big deal if you know).
One such band/project/offshoot were Endless Grinning Skulls. Formed by guitarist Andy Morgan (also from Bloody Head, Army Of Flying Robots, Nadir and countless more), drummer Steve Charlesworth (Heresy, Wolves Of Greece, Meatfly, Geriatric Unit) and bassist Gords (Hard To Swallow, John Holmes, Geriatric Unit) in the early twenty-teens, they re-set the bar for the 3-piece hardcore band before (perhaps inevitably) burning out in 2018.
Morgan and Charlesworth weren’t done though. They’d forged a bond in EGS and wanted to carry on playing together so – in a familiar Nottingham storyline – they recruited former Pitchshifter guitarist Stu Toolin on bass and Anmarie Spaziano (who you might know from running a famous burger joint) on vocals and formed Blind Eye. They knew Toolin was about to relocate to Portland, Oregon so they wrote and recorded an EP (released on Morgan’s own Viral Age Records). Quick-sharp. No messing about. And that – by rights – should have been that: over and out. New band please.
However, the demo captured a rare intensity and vitality that more considered projects often fail to achieve. This was a band let loose, free from previous shackles and loving the noise they made. It seemed a shame to stop there.Recruiting Matt Grundy (a former bandmate of Morgan’s in both Nadir and Dead In The Woods) to the bass vacancy they went back to Stuck On A Name Studios in 2021 with Ian “Boulty” Boult at the helm again and delivered the album Decomposed.
As well as their own self-created musical legacies, Decomposed recalls classic American hardcore like Bad Brains, Poison Idea and Jerry’s Kids or Japanese ragers like Paintbox, The Comes, Eiefits and Skizophrenia. But there’s also a healthy slug of classic UK and US punk and even a bit of Krautrock, psychedelia and Black Sabbath in there too. Let’s be honest, they’re all way too old to be slaves to the genre police anyway and we – the listeners – should all be thankful for that.
Decomposed genuinely rocks out without losing one iota of the effervescent anger that made the demo such an essential listen. From the insistent, minimal opener Ready To Go Now via the unhinged thrash of Straw Man and the menace of the stomping Pero No Quieres, to the measured chugging and epic crescendo of closer Broken Star, this record is a fucking blast. Needle off, flip it back over, play it again. Your neighbours are loving it so much they’re banging on the walls to tell you.
“I suppose the intention was to write high energy, catchy hardcore, with a nod to what has come before, but also to do our own thing,” explains Andy. “Lyrically, the album was written during the pandemic, and although it’s not ‘a pandemic album’, I think it deals with a lot of the feelings of loss, separation and isolation which resulted from it, as well as general anger and confusion at the state of the world. We’re just trying to make sense of it all really”