Monday, October 25, 2010

Grindcore Bracketology: The 1-8 Matchups

Let round one of the great grindcore faceoff begin. Bring on your best arguments. Winners will be announced next week. You can view the full bracket here. Have at it.

North America
Pig Destroyer (1) vs. Phobia (8)
Though my enjoyment of Pig Destroyer has decreased slightly with every album after Prowler in the Yard, I can’t deny they’re still the most beastly and brutal band working in grind. Scott Hull’s riffs and production are consistently huge, a looming mugger crowding you in a dark alley on the wrong side of town at the worst possible time. And that’s before J.R. Hayes’ emotional violence seethes through lyrics about murder, suicide, emotional abuse and love gone horribly wrong. Fantastic drumming and the recent addition of full time electronics artist Blake Harrison only add to the exquisite torture.
Phobia are grindcore lifers. Part of that second wave that took what Napalm Death and Terrorizer had inspired, the tandem of Shane McLachlan and Steve Burda, regardless of supporting cast, have bashed out a consistent brew of no frills punk-inspired grind. Phobia have always given off the vibe of a band that doesn’t give a fuck whether it's playing in front of a club full of a 800 or a basement show with 12 people in the audience. More of a crust punk band in their infancy, Phobia have evolved into more of a traditional grind as they’ve aged, but their spit and fury have remained unchanged.

Asia and Australia
Wormrot (1) vs. Captain Cleanoff (8)
By now you should be fairly familiar with my thoughts on Wormrot: They kick your favorite band’s ass. The Singapore trio doesn’t waste time trying to reinvent the grindcore wheel so much as reinvigorate it with a streamlined, savage take on the sound that crosses straight ahead aggression with thrashtastic riffing and an unhinged energy. If they had never recorded another note beyond Abuse, that would easily stand as the post-millennial equivalent of Horrified, but the band has Earache’s backing now and their next album won’t find them positioned as upstart outsiders but rather as leaders of a new generation of grinders.
Wormrot square off with Captain Cleanoff, the clear people’s choice for this matchup. The long running Aussies dropped their Carcass-mocking first album in 2008 and people are still talking about it today. Mixing up groove with their grind and adding Bill Steer-ish soloing, Captain Cleanoff are staunchly planted in the past. Like Wormrot (but paying homage to different influences) the band doesn’t advance grindcore so much as hit all the right notes very hard and very quickly.

Scandinavia
Rotten Sound (1) vs. Infanticide (8)
The Scandinavian bracket could just as easily been the Sweden bracket because that country seems to have a grindcore factory tucked away among its fjords. Except across the eastern border Rotten Sound have planted the flag for Finn-core, a rampaging romp of Nasum-quality blasting that centers around that rarest of avi: actual grindcore songs. Armed with a batch of songs mostly titled with a single word, Rotten Sound are a grinding machine, mechanistically beating out high quality noise with a frequency and quality that’s outright stunning 17 years on.
Paired with Rotten Sound quintessence of grind is Sweden’s Infanticide who lard their blasts with a layer of death metal. Just as comfortable working at lower RPMs as they are with blastbeats, Infanticide are part of a new crop of bands that challenge our notions of what grindcore should be. Infanticide’s music is just as likely to reference Entombed and Bolt Thrower as it is Unseen Terror and Brutal Truth. Grind thrives on self-imposed limitations, but Infanticide don’t so much think outside of the box as pop the lid on it and take a look at what the rest of the world is up to.

Continental Europe and the United Kingdom
Napalm Death (1) vs. Agathocles (8)
You can’t have a conversation about grindcore without Napalm Death’s name popping up. The band, through its various incarnations, has pooped out some of the most essential noise the scene has seen. However, for this discussion, you’re limited to the current Greenway/Embury/Harris/Herrera lineup (discussions of Pintado’s contribution will be allowed). Argumentum ad Scum-um is verboten. With an entirely new cast from their glory days and playing a style that eschews straight noisy punk for a casserole of punk, grind, death, crust and thrash, Napalm Death are still innovators and are at once instantly recognizable.
Just as geriatric, if not always as widely lauded, as Napalm Death, Belgium’s Agathocles are probably better known for their colossal back catalogue than they are for the music that comprises it. Led by pivot Jan Frederickx, since 1985 the band has been banging out a punked out brew of anarchistic grind that’s grown even more jaundiced with age. Like Phobia on the left side of the Atlantic, Agathocles are the kind of band that will play a show or split a 7-inch with anybody, anytime anywhere. And it’s a measure of the band’s esteem that sharing wax with them is still considered a rite of passage for many a young grind band a quarter century later.

21 comments:

Bill Willingham IV, Esquire said...

North America: PD over Phobia. Phobia have basically been spinning their wheels for several albums/years now, churning out what I guess you could call "safe" grind. Although the new stuff sounds like it's bringing something chaotic into the mix, I go with PD for evolving.

Evolving in this case basically means adding a bunch of Slayer riffs, but it'll be a sad day when I think that's a bad thing.

Asia and Australia: Wormrot, Wormrot, Wormrot. CC is a hell of a lot of fun, but Wormrot jumps the fuck out of the speakers and bounces around with a mania scarcely heard. It's just so athletic and fresh. The most fun in grind, period.

Scandinavia: RS over Infanticide. Both play somewhat similar sounds, but RS just outclass 'em. Not sure how else to put it. I hear a lot of RS in Infanticide, too.

Europe & UK: Damnnnnnnn, homie. That's tough. I'm going to go with ND. Yes, they are no longer straight grind. However, in a genre that's meant to push boundaries, Agathocles have become something you'd think would be a grindcore anathema: elder statesmen.

Their role as grindcore life-coach for the new crop is totally fucking admirable, and they still sound rad, I just give my nod to ND for sticking their necks out and mixing things up a bit. "Smear Campaign" and "Time Waits" kick ass, card-check purity be damned.

Anonymous said...

pd v phobia: i take phobia. pd have been on a steady decline, with phantom limb being atrocious and ANb actually playing the better tunes as of late. phobia win on the 'what have you done for me lately' quotient.

wormrot v cap'n cleanoff: never got into CC. wormrot wins by default.

rotten sound v infanticide: brutal pairing. rs will win this on visibility alone - but i vote infanticide because i love them.

nd v agathocles: nd if only because they release full length albums, not 8000 splits that take years to acquire :)

Flesh Monolith said...

North America: PD without a doubt. While Phobia is consistent, they've done nothing new or anyhting too interesting. I'd love to see them live again, but I rarely revisit a recording of theirs. Their sound is a dime a dozen. Pig Destroyer, releasing Prowler in the Yard (one of the greatest albums ever if you ask me) deserve it. Terrifyer sucked, but Phantom Limb showed a lot of improvement. They're amazing live and with this kind of gap you can expect the next one to be killer. Not to mention they have amazing lyrics (ever read phboia's lyrics? yeesh)

Asia/Austrillia: CC were a lot of fun at MDF. People have gone apeshit over Wormrot, I don't see it (they play very good, typical grind). That said, I think Wormrot's the choice for this one.

Scandinavia: Rotten Sound, not really a contest.

Europe/UK: Hmm, I despise modern day Napalm Death. They haven't done anything good since FETO if you ask me. Unfortnatly I've never given Agathocles much of a chance, but they've stuck to their guns and that's as grindcore as grindcore gets. I'm going with Agathocles.

HAG said...

i just recently discovered this blog.

pig destroyer-prowler in the yard and terrifyer are some of my favorites. i've never been impressed with anything i've heard by phobia.
wormrot- i listen to this band alot and have never heard captain cleanoff.
rotten sound- i can't stop listening to this band lately.
napalm death- i got into grind through newer napalm death.

Anonymous said...

North America:
I'd say Phobia here. Pig Destroyer have done some kickass albums with really groovy songs but I enjoy the more classic grindcore pace that Phobia churns out.

Asia/Australia:
Wormrot without doubt. Caption Cleanoff play some awesome death metal but Wormrot are just fantastic. They are also great live, really nice guys to talk to as well.

Scandinavia:
Rotten Sound win because of Murderworks and Exit. They have not really impressed lately but their combined might still beats Infanticide. This might change..

Europe/UK:
Napalm Death, I never get tired of some of their albums and Barney is one of my all time heroes. I feel sorry for Agathocles, they also deserves it but I guess they would not give a shit anyway ;)

Shanetera said...

The North American debate is intense. PxDx do have Hull and Hayes both masters of their art. The old material is emotionally intense, heavy and just plain good. But I'm NOT a fan of a three man grind band adding a fourth member in electronics an samples. Phobia has a girl sit on stage and PLAY their audio samples from a portable cd or tape player. Phobia also plays shows which means something to me. They are so much more DIY and punk which is why they win. Artistically they may fall short but aesthetically they are superior.
Wormrot. 'Nuff said. They're the ND of this grind generation.
Rotten Sound because I know little of Infantcide and RS just plain rip.
So ND writes actual songs and full records but Agothocles is so much more punk. ND are doing it for a career and not the fun, and while I respect that I respect being poor, crustypunks more because that's what j am. Nit login comfortably in the studio for months recording a CD to pay at festivals. Don't get me wrong, I like and wan to see ND live, I'm just saying. Agothocles.

DesiccatedVeins said...

North America: Pig Destroyer, hands down. You put virtually any LP song they've done, from 'Explosions in Ward 6' on up, against any song in Phobia's catalog and the PxDx song will be better written and most times more interesting. I actually really like 'Phantom Limb,' (although not better than 'PitY') but that's a discussion for another time. I also shouldn't even have to mention J.R.'s lyrics and the fact that they trump 98% of lyricists' in the genre's offerings without even trying.

Asia v. Australia- I'm going to give it to Wormrot. They've just really exploded onto the scene, and they've got great attitude and energy. This is where Captain Cleanoff's slacker image gets them into trouble; they write great songs, but they've never capitalized on that in terms of cultivating an image.

Scandinavia- I'm going to be honest, I find a lot of Scandy bands to be kind of boring. Rotten Sound are too much like recycled Nasum to me, so I'm going to have to give the edge to Infanticide for being the more dexterous band.

Continental Europe and UK: This is a difficult choice, like I've mentioned. Since we are talking strictly 1990 and on, I'm going to give Agathocles the win here. I'm much more likely to put on 'Razor Sharp Daggers' or that new Peel Sessions disc than I am 'Enemy of the Music Business' or 'Smear Campaign.' In the battle of eminence vs. speed, speed wins.

Brooke said...

North America- Pig Destroyer vs. Phobia
My vote goes to Pig Destroyer hands down.

Asia/Australia- Wormrot vs. Captain Cleanoff
My vote goes to Wormrot, they're just more interesting to me.

Scandinavia- Rotten Sound vs. Infanticide
My vote goes to Infanticide. Rotten Sound sounds too generic at times.

Continental Europe/UK
Napalm Death vs. Agathocles
My vote goes to Agathocles.

SunnyvaleTrash said...

N.A. - Phobia over PD, simply because Cruel and 22 Random Acts of Violence destroy Terrifyer and Phantom Limb. Prowler in the Yard is a great record and all but nothing since then has really captured my attention.

Asia & Australia - I don't really get the hype around Wormrot, but I've never heard Captain Cleanoff either. No vote on this contest.

Scandinavia - Rotten Sound for sure. Departed drummer K's drumming and their amazing guitar tones/production just blast me into grind heaven. I have some Infanticide but I've never opted to listen to them over somebody else when I'm in the mood for grind.

U.K. - I'm not really familiar with Agathocles, but I am a huge fan of Smear Campaign and Time Waits for No Slave. I highly doubt any of Agathocles work hits that sweet spot between the violent grind, catchiness, and heft that ND have on their last couple records.

Sean said...

North America - PD hands down. They sound like no one else while still managing to stay "grind" and would win on innovation alone. Luckily they don't have to, since PD has put out some of the best modern grind albums there are.

Australasia - Wormrot. I like CC quite a bit, but the album Abuse scratches that grind itch like no other in my current playlist.

Sweden - Infanticide. Rotten Sound is good, but infanticide is exciting. This vote is really more based on potential than recordings.

That other place - Napalm Death. I've never really been able to get into the mincecore, but I really enjoyed "Time Waits".

Wooderson said...

Let the games begin!

North America - Pig Destroyer by a fucking mile. As much as I enjoy Phobia I can't think of one of their releases that completely blew me away.

Asia/Australia - Wormrot is the clear winner here. As much as I dig CC that Abuse album has probably been in my rotation more than all CC releases combined.

Scandinavia - I LOVE the last release by Infanticide and I think it's fucking great they are on Willowtip - a label that knows a thing or two about grind. This is a close one but I have to give the edge to Rotten Sound. Album after album they are simply solid every damn time. Just a mere 53 days until these bastards are in my city!

Europe/UK - No contest here. Napalm Death - no other explanation required.

Rosemary said...

North America

Winner: PD

Thoughts: I am an old timer to all this, seeing both bands in their infancy, working and knowing one band, knowing members of the other. PD brings the art to forefront which keeps me, the older listener, in the game. Phobia, as intense in recent times and with a fierce touring drummer in Farjdo, it becomes the same old cat and mouse, not matter the break down, and who is "smashing the state". PD keep it intellectually sick, and keep it more so DIY than Phobia or most other bands can with its membership.

Asia/Australia

Winner: Wormrot

Thoughts: I am not impressed with Captain Cleanoff, enough said. No need to waste time or space here.

Wormrot bring what I saw in Phobia and PD in the late mid-90's. Raw energy, youth, possible staying power, though the recent split has me to wonder.

Scandinavia

Winner: Rotten Sound

Thoughts: RS has been in the game for a long time. To see them live, solid live in your face club performance. I like Infanticide's new record, but RS is too connected to the past, as well as it's connection to Miesko Talarcyzk of Nasum's early production credits.

Continental Europe/UK

Winner: Napalm Death

Thoughts: History and progenitors of a genre are who ND are regardless of line up. I remember seeing the "Scum" record for sale, perched on the brand new end cap at Slipped Disc Records when I was 17 years old. I had no idea what to expect or how to decipher it. A gateway drug, if you will.

Agathocles, for me, were always ruined by inconsistent production which made me pass so many times in wanting to like or support the band. No matter what, Agathocles to me were always third stringers. ND have history on their side in this match up.

HeroinJesus said...

1) Pig Destroyer. Scott Hull is the fucking Jesus of grind riffs (in my opinion), they're both brutal and catchy, and always entertaining.
2) Wormrot. They're very straight forward, no frills old school grind. I listened to their album way to much once i got it, and i still listen to it fairly regularly. very entertaining and heavy fucking band.
3)Rotten Sound. Why? Because they are ROTTEN FUCKING SOUND!!!! great riffs, great drumming, great vocals, the best bass/guitar tone ever, their my second favorite grind core band ever, but since Nasum isn't in the running for this, they're gonna get my vote every time.
4)Napalm Death. This might be considered blasphemy, i don't give a fuck, I'd rather listen to time waits for no slave than scum any day. They're still intent on making grind even better, trying new things and still putting out quality music. and i don't like agathocles haha.

benj said...

1. PD, even thought the last album may not have been everyones cup o tea, they have still put out some of the most influential albums of recent times. not to take away from phobia who are also a great band. I just prefer PD.

2. Wormrot. I love CC and had a good booze up with them last year in the UK but Wormrot are the better band and even nicer guys (and gal).

3. Rotten Sound.

4. Napalm Death. I'm from birmingham so I see them every other month it feels like but they still pull off a great performance every time. Barney may not have the best voice but he's definitely one of the best frontmen going

vengeance is mine said...

North America: Pig Destroyer. Prowler in the Yard is one of the few grind albums offers any kind of emotional complexity even if seeing Phobia in a Nebraska basement was awesome.

A vs A: Wormrot. Captain Cleanwho?

Scandi: Rotten Sound. why not?

UK vs CE: Napalm Death. Grindosaurus Rex!

ben said...

North America: Pig Destroyer: while Phobia consistently turns out decent records and tours constantly, Pig Destroyer writes more interesting and varied songs. Quality over quantity.

Pacific: Wormrot: This band put out one of the best albums of recent memory and kills it live. Captain Cleanoff is just ehh.

Scandinavia: Rotten Sound: Not a huge fan ether band but that infanticide 7" was real dull so i'll go with the slightly less dull band

Europe: Agathocles: Mince or get the fuck out.

brutalex said...

hooooooo boy.

North America- Pig Destroyer. As much as I love Phobia for upping the punx all these years, Pig Destroyer put out the better albums(and far more intense lyrics). Also, PD are way better live.

Asia/Australia- Wormrot. I'm with Dr. Z on this, CC just don't have that... je ne sais quoi. Wormrot are ferocious both live and on the record and it shows. With CC I just don't feel the soul behind the music, they're just having fun and taking the piss, which is fine and all. I just feel it lacks the heft of passion(what?).

Scandinavia- Infanticide. This might be blasphemous but Rotten Sound have a notorious record of boring the shit out of me. Infanticide aren't miles better, but they have that filthy gutter death metal vibe that works in all the right ways.

Europe/UK- Agathocles. The Napalm Death I love just ain't the one around today. the new shit just doesn't do anything for me. Agathocles have been mincin' with the same DIY ethic they started with and that's goddamn commendable. Their splits with the newer legions of grinder such as Sakatat, Archagathus or SMG make me want to fuck shit up way more than any ND album from the last decade ever has.

geeheeb said...

NA) Phobia
AA) Captain Cleanoff, both live and in the studio.
SC) Infanticide if we are talking about 2010.
EU/UK) Napalm Death

Wet Nightmare said...

game1:pig destroyer. Prowler in the yard is one of my favorite albums, and they haven't disappointed yet. Phobia rules just not as hard.

game9:captain cleanoff. Some of the catchiest circle pitting grind i've heard recently. Wormrot is awesome, but CC hits all the nails on the head.

game5:rotten sound. murderworks is another one of my favorite albums. i love this album so much my daughters middle name is the same as the drummer,kai. although cycles didnt hit me the same way, i love all their stuff.

game13:napalm death. my favorite napalm death album is the one with current lineup(minus pintado), utopia banished. i like the fact that napalm death still pushes the envelope even if it's not in a grind way.

Anonymous said...

PD
Wormrot
Rotten Sound
Napalm Death

None of these are even close

Orthodoxyn said...

Apologies for the delay but,

North America - Pig Destroyer
Although I love Phobia, they general are similar to most cruty grind outfits out there, and I am yet to meet a Pig Destroyer like band.

Asia AND Australia - Wormrot
Wormrot are just fantastic in every sense of the word, you cant even find one moment in their music that feels out of place or that it could be improved.

Scandinavia - Rotten Sound
I have only heard Infanticides latest album and although impressive, I have much more from Rotten Sound.

Continental Europe and UK- Napalm Death.
To not back N.D would be treason!