We Deserve Much Worse
Like Potter Stewart and his pornography, I don’t think I’ve ever come up with a definition for grindcore that would survive any serious scrutiny. I just know it when I hear it.
It’s a given that the blastbeat is a central tenet of the sound, and I usually describe grind as “the bastard child of punk and metal” for those who aren’t currently scene cognoscenti. But that’s a hazy approximation at best, and any attempt at more specificity is bound to implode. At what point does fast punk and hardcore cross into grind? Some people lump Disrupt in with grind, but I consider them punk due to the paucity of blastbeats. Not that I could defend that assertion with anything approaching empirical measurements. Same goes for the metal influences. Where’s the demarcation between grind and a really short death metal song loaded with blastbeats?
My taxonomical dilemma (and yes, I’ve had this dilemma of categorization before) is brought about by Finns Deathbound who pound out savage metal-flecked punk riffs on third album We Deserve Much Worse (a fourth is currently in the works) but are far more strategic in deploying the blastbeat. Former Rotten Sound drummer Sami Latva can bring the noise but songs like “Deceiving Shortcuts” find him picking his spots, using blasts as gravy instead of the protein in Deathbound’s culinary holocaust. The sandman somnambulance of “Connected to the Confusion” slinks through gray mists just under blastbeat BPMs and close out ECT session “Ward 77” is a booted bass stomp that validates the less speed is more approach by giving the low end a chance to resonate and crush the song.
Dropping the BPMs requires some guts because you can either end up with Leng Tch’e’s intriguing decision to swap speed for atmosphere on Marasmus or the stale elevator fart disappointment of Coldworker’s Rotting Paradise. Both Justice Stewart and I agree that Deathbound is much closer to the former, if that helps.
So how about it, is there a workable definition of grindcore that manages to includes all of its offshoots? How would you define it?