The people have spoken and it wasn’t even close. Here are your 1-8 winners.
Pig Destroyer terrifier-ed crust grind lifers Phobia, blowing them out 17-4. Turns out a fairly consistent record over 20 years and an unwavering commitment to DIY ethics just can’t compete with Hull et al’s scathing art grind nightmares. (Bonus points go to Bill Willingham IV Esq. for better articulating my problem with recent Phobia albums. I also agree they’re too safe.)
Asia and Australia
In the most lopsided contest of the lot, Wormrot eviscerated Captain Cleanoff by a vote of 18-2. Though many of you argued fiercely for the Australians’ right to slot in the contest, their booze drenched nods to classic Carcass just couldn’t stand in the face of Wormrot’s exquisite ferocity.
Though a few of you offered up spirited defenses of Infanticide’s new jack noise, Rotten Sound’s legacy of consistently crushing records drove them to a 16-5 victory. Give Infanticide a few more years to build up their reputation and I suspect the results would be much closer.
Continental Europe and the United Kingdom
Maybe it was just wishful thinking since I’ve been on an Agathocles binge lately, but I had smelled upset going into this one. You, the voters, were having none of it. Old dogs Napalm Death’s new tricks crushed Agathocles’ relentless singelmindedness by 15-6. It was the tightest contest of the day, but it wasn’t even close.
The winners have advanced and you can check out the revised brackets here.
Meanwhile, we move on to the 3-6 matchups. The faceoffs should be more evenly matched so I expect closer calls and some really interesting arguments. Let the streets flow with the blood of the unbelievers. Argument’s open until Saturday.
Kill the Client (3) vs. Graf Orlock (6)
Go mess with Texas. I dare you. Yeah, didn’t think so. Kill the Client are an audio pipe bomb packed full of nails and the knucklebones of lesser competitors who shred their fingers to the nub vainly trying to keep pace. But there’s just not another band working right now that’s as purely pissed as Kill the Client. Champ Morgan is a man possessed and he’s backed by of top shelf musicians. Jesus, is there any grind band that Bryan Fajardo hasn’t joined? But the secret sauce to the Dallas barbecue may be bassist James Delgado who anchors the chaos and quietly shapes the sound from behind the scenes.
If the MPAA sends out a flurry of new cease and desist letters, cine-grinders Graf Orlock must be back in the studio. The band has dropped a triptych of releases that follow the formula of introduction/conflict/and violent conclusion that stitches together a narrative from cinematic samples and swiped dialog lyrics. And while that has been the bit of trivia that has formed the basis of the Graf’s identity, don’t overlook their quality of the hardcore tinged noise they bang out. The music is just as sweeping, emotional and explosive of the meathead movies that inspire them.
Asia and Australia
Magnicide (3) vs. Unholy Grave (6)
A fascinating matchup between two Asian acts that are perhaps better known for their artists they ape than the music they make on their own. Singapore’s Magnicide do a capable 324 impersonation as they play second grind fiddle to countrymen Wormrot. But do Wormrot have grindcore didgeridoo? Hmm? Do they? With 324 frozen in carbonite for the time being, Magnicide are your best bet to scratch that crusty grind holocaust itch until the masters’ triumphant return.
Unholy Grave are the Asian Agathocles both because they bang out a consistently lo-fi morass of punky grind with only a fleeting acquaintance with 21st Century recording techniques and technology and because the list of their split-heavy back catalogue outweighs your average phone book. But the Japanese quartet has defined its niche in the grindcore ecosphere and have burrowed in comfortably. You don’t pick up an Unholy Grave album expecting to be wowed with the latest thinking in songsmithy. However, the band has a deft hand at grinding the fuck out, never swaying from their strengths.
Afgrund (3) vs. The Arson Project (6)
Some of you have had the temerity to develop your own surprisingly cogent opinions, making lucid arguments in favor of Afgrund’s superiority to Sayyadina as Sweden’s top working grinders. How dare you? Oh, I can certainly see where you’re coming from because Afgrund raged out of the abyss (all of those who got that pun, raise your hands) with a potent brew of punk- and metal-distilled audio aggression. When the sometimes Swedish/sometimes Italian/sometimes Finnish sometimes trio/sometimes quartet (OK, their lineup is not stable) clicks, the set all of Europe aflame, like the song says. The question before you is if that is strong enough to overcome the band’s insistence of larding albums with thoroughly pointless and dreary doom passages.
Against them comes upstarts The Arson Project who only boast one EP to their name to date, but it’s a corker. Hobbled by a name stolen from the bad metalcore handbook, The Arson Project have a slick hand with a tune and a poise and energy that belies the band’s relative youth. Do 14 minutes of prime noise and bucketsful of future potential stack up against the here and now attractions of Afgrund?
Continental Europe and the United Kingdom
Suffering Mind (3) vs. Attack of the Mad Axeman (6)
Suffering Mind couldn’t be more serious; Attack of the Mad Axeman couldn’t be less. Do you prefer the rage or the jester? Poles Suffering Mind are grind incarnate. Far more hardcore inflected than many of their European kin, the band blasts and huffs and doesn’t waste its time with much else. They know their strengths and they will throttle you with their raw rage and bullwhip attack.
Against them stands Germany’s Attack of the Mad Axeman the ecologically minded grinders harness the sounds of the animal kingdom in the name of animal activism and environmental responsibility. They also know their way around a thoroughly infectious riff over the course of two increasingly awesome full lengths. And yes, they wear fuzzy animal costumes on stage, but don’t let that lull you into thinking they’re a joke band.