Grindcore reduces music to basic chromatic riffs which operate solely by pattern contrast in the changing of phrase and rhythm, making it one of those rare musical instances that creates a new “space” within music where other musicians do not deign to tread. This makes grindcore often resemble a kitchen sink: you turn on the tap, and grindcore pours out, about like all other grindcore.
Retortion Terror work within that framework by avoiding attempts to make an especially distinctive style, but instead focus on complex strings of simple riffs in a semi-linear format, like early Napalm Death if it integrated the more technical elements of later grindcore and turned up the speed all the way. Like metalcore, it is guided by vocals and the riffs change as background, but the old underground science of fitting together different patterns to make a coherent narrative is still there.
Taking a page from the war metal book, Retortion Terror charges full speed ahead and focuses on fast and furious strumming as well as abrupt riff changes and the falling-over-a-cliff sensation of sudden dynamic alteration. This short EP, in the neo-Japanocore style, packs a ton of short complexity into a compact package that hits hard and then vanishes. We might expect this from ex-Gridlink personnel.
Closing out with a cover of the Ramones “I Wanna Live,” Retortion Terror shows what grindcore can achieve decades after its invention. It might not stand out, but its energy proves infectious, much as its personality that exhibits manic expression as a form of rage for overcoming frustration can make any listener smile and wonder.