Sunday, 24 July 2016

Top 10 Grindcore Bands

If this post were written in the true spirit of grindcore it would be about 5 lines long - but grindcore is a suitable soundtrack to what's happening in the world at the moment.

Here's the standard journey (and it is very much a journey of self-destruction) towards grind :

You start off listening to rock bands with an edge to them. Next, you might move on to some of the more radio-friendly metal bands like late-era Metallica or Black Sabbath – and most would be happy to stay there. The next level for those who want something a bit heavier would be the old school thrash bands. When bands like Slayer sound too soft for your new found tastes you go even further down the rabbit hole towards black metal, death metal, doom etc.

When you're a suitable candidate to push the boundaries of what music actually is, waiting for you at the end of a dark corridor - ready to shove knives into each ear - is grindcore.

It's an "acquired taste". If you were to compare it with spicy food : normal mainstream metal would be a tika masala, black metal would be a vindaloo, grindcore is like downing one of those hot sauces with skulls on the bottle. It's an overwhelming sensory experience, while many grindcore bands - having been inspired by hardcore punk - often tend towards the political than the nihilistic.

As grindcore often ranges from thrash metal or hardcore punk played at breakneck speed to pure noise it's often difficult, if not impossible, to differentiate between songs. That's why I'm doing bands instead, as the style of the musicians is what makes grindcore bands stand out from each other.

10. Pig Destroyer

Grindcore bands generally fall into three broad categories – those who want to scare (aka. goregrind), those who want to shock (aka. pornogrind, noisegrind), those who want to make political points. Pig Destroyer are very definitely in the "horror" group, specialising in story-based gore. They were also one of the first band to introduce the grindcore trope of sampling from horror films.

9. The Berzerker

Yeah, it's a bit noisy, but this Australian band have a highly unusual background for a metal band having originated from DJ-ing and industrial music rather than punk or thrash metal. They clearly had a sense of humour, but despite being hailed by the underground the band split circa 2010, with one of the members going on to become....a glamour photographer.

8. Agoraphobic Nosebleed

Legend has it no drummer could keep up with the rest of the band so they were replaced with a drum machine – something that's incredibly rare in metal. A typical song is under a minute

7. Terrorizer

Very influential in helping to define the grindcore sound, if having an on-off history as a band.

6. Dying Fetus

Perhaps they're more a death metal band than grindcore due to their song lengths. Started off with adolescent horror-inspired lyrics but those lyrics became more anti-capitalist, anti-religion and anti-racism in later years. Famously part of an internet campaign to headline Download in 2014. Sod Download, why not Glastonbury? #WhyNotDyingFetus?

5. Cattle Decapitation

When it comes to music, vegetarianism and animal rights are perhaps stereotyped as being all about twee folk music on acoustic guitars at hippy festivals. Cattle Decapitation pull no punches – as you might expect from the name - and take the theme of animal rights to its logical conclusion, which is pure misanthropy. To them we're all meat.

4. Brutal Truth

Very straightforward, no nonsense brutality but with elements of technical sophistication within the noise. One of the first American pioneers of grind along with Terrorizer.

3. Anal Cunt

You can't have any discussion on grindcore without mentioning Anal Cunt. They barely qualified as music but they're arguably the most (in)famous grind band. If you want a fair description of Anal Cunt's back catalogue, take every single racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, homophobic comment on the internet, then condense it into 30 second rants screamed over a hairdryer. So in some respects they were pioneers, and you can see their influence on Reddit and other imageboards.

In a genre that's all about pushing music to the very extreme and beyond, in terms of "satirical transgressive repulsiveness", Anal Cunt lead the way. If you get the joke, they're hilarious. If you don't get it or are a bit hyper-sensitive - you can't really blame anyone - they're worse than Hitler (they'd take that as a compliment).

2. Carcass

Liverpudlian forefathers of the "goregrind" microgenre – though they seem to get overlooked in favour of other bands from that particular city. Can't think why. Instead of going for political lyrics, they opted for shock value (a lot like Anal Cunt). As a result, one of the more prominent urban legends is that Carcass were actually medical students as their bloody lyrics – accompanied by a wall of noise and often focused on the digestive system - were straight from medical and pathology textbooks.

1. Napalm Death

The Godfathers of Grind from the outskirts of....Coventry. Famous for having the world's shortest song at just over 1 second long (You Suffer). As much inspired by anarchist punk bands as they were metal they created a fused sound that eventually became grindcore.

Their debut album Scum - famously picked up by John Peel - is widely considered a classic despite having 28 songs whilst being only 33 minutes long. Within the noise, their lyrics would be considered quite progressive for any band let alone a metal band, being outspoken in support of pacifism and anti-fascism. 2016 marks their 35th year.

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