Friday, July 29, 2011

Blast(beat) from the Past: Forgardur Helvitis

There was a man by the name of Thorvarld who was the son of Asvald Ulfsson. Thorvald’s son was called Eirik the Red, and both father and son left Jadri in Norway for Iceland because of some killings.

The Saga of Eirik the Red
Circa 1300

Forgardur Helvetis

Blastbeat Mailmurder
[Re-released in 2007]
Of the all the things you, the faithful listener, have come to expect from card carrying members of the grindcore musicians’ union, stopping an album for nearly two minutes of gravely chanted poetry is probably not one of them. But there it is on Icelanders Forgardur Helvetis’s 2002 album Gerningavedur: penultimate track “Heljarslod” is deliberately-paced poetry, read in the lilting accents and stern cadences I’ve come to associate with Ingmar Bergman’s stoic black and white meditations on human alienation and the absence of God.
While my Icelandic may not be sufficient to decipher what the tiny Atlantic isle’s sole grindcore ambassadors are raving about on their 21 other songs, I’ve spent enough time studying the sagas and Eddas to have a small glimpse of the importance of poetry in Norse culture. Egil Skallagrimsson retained his head thanks to the felicity of his words. While “Heljarslod” felt awkward at first, its place and importance grew on me with subsequent listens. Now I think it needs to be there, an emotional anchor to the blood eagle brutality of the music.
Musically, Forgardur Helvetis hit all the expected notes: the blastbeats are on point, the riffs have a distinctive Scandinavian air as though the earliest At the Gates material were being reinterpreted by Creation is Crucifixion and the vocals are impassioned. But there’s also a breasting dragon ship bravado to their song construction that suggests they have Viking-era Bathory albums lurking in their plundered record collection (They also cover Dark Throne’s “Undir Utfarartungli” aka "Under A Funeral Moon"). The songs won’t win many awards for memorability, but they serve their purpose. However, though it’s only 31 minutes long, Gerningavedur just feels longer. There’s definitely about 10 minutes worth of fluff that could have been given a Viking funeral before release. Despite that, it’s entertaining to get an album from a rarely heard from corner of the Scandi-grind community.

[Full disclosure: Blastbeat Mailmurder sent me a review copy.]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Astral Projection: Dephosphorus Play With Greek Fire

The United States’ space shuttle program may have lurched to an ignominious end, but other brave souls still dare to boldly go where no infinitive has been split before, plying the furthest reaches of the cosmos in search of adventure or enlightenment.
Piloting a craft cobbled together from the remains of grindcore, crust punk, black metal and that meditative space bubble thing from Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, Greek grindonauts Dephosphorus are a three man astro(logy/nomy) seminar in a musical form they call astrogrind.
“The astrogrind philosophy doesn’t have necessarily to do with the definition of a new genre Linksince our music style is not something totally new,” guitarist Thanos Mantas said. “There are obviously influences from other bands and genres, the only thing sure being that the aura of our music is the one that somebody would expect from a band with such a concept. Since we have an astral concept, the term ‘astrogrind’ has popped out naturally as a designation, even though it does not determine something self-luminous, born from scratch.”

In Brightest Day

Combing a unique – for grindcore, anyway – fixation on the mystical with the accustomed aggression we all crave from blastbeat purveyors, Dephosphorus served up something unexpected, unheralded and absolutely enjoyable with debut EP Axiom, which has since been pressed on a 12-inch by 7 Degrees Records and made available as a free download by the band. Along with fellow space cadets PSUDOKU, Dephosphorus ensure 2011 will be the year grindcore left many of its terrestrial concerns behind in favor of swirling new vistas and unexplored horizons. It will all get a fuller expression on pending full length Night Sky Transform, which vocalist Panos Agoros promises will be more “aggressive, memorable and intense” than Axiom.
It can be easy to become burnt out and jaded if you’re constantly gorging on all that grindcore has to offer (by that measure I feel like the Sally Struthers of grind some days). After a few too many Nasum clones, getting intergalactic planetary/planetary intergalactic with astrogrind was exactly what I needed this year. Though Thanos and Panos kept things far more traditional with prior outfit StraightHate, Dephosphorus began mining the same science fiction authors that inspired luminaries such as Jon Chang to bolster the more mystical bent of their latest outfit.
“The Dephosphorus concept is allegorical, inspired by cosmology, astrobiology and science fiction authors like Iain M. Banks,” Panos said. “Somewhere in the universe exists an ancient lifeform ‘that is not God,’ Dephosphorus. It scans the universe for other forms of intelligent life, seeks their alliance and assistance in order to pierce the mysteries of the cosmos. When it manifests itself to civilizations like the earthly, it usually gets in contact with a small group (‘those who look to the sky with the right kind of eyes’ – as go the lyrics of the homonymous track from our debut album Night Sky Transform), which provoke radical change often through turmoil and violence.”
While Dephosphorus may be setting their controls for the heart of the sun, some of the mystical inspirations to their music is far more mundane and uniquely Greek.
“The mystical elements possibly originate from my occupation with the local folk music known as ‘rebetiko’ and the melodies which possess me as a lover of traditional Greek music,” Thanos said. “Many times some of the songs have an aura of old. I incorporate those elements inside the grind philosophy or blend them to produce some more psychedelic themes. Whether the audience perceives it or not is not an end in itself. This is simply how Dephosphorus operate.”

In Blackest Night

Dephosphorus will be throwing the doors of their operation open to Thralldom/Unearthly Trance’s Ryan Lipynsky who chipped in on the new song “Unconscious Excursion.” It’s an absolutely inspired pairing because each outfit approaches the same ritualistic experience through opposite means – Dephosphorus through the power of crusty grind and Unearthly Trance through the power of crusty doom. You can see what the common ground might be, right?
“Listening to [Lipynsky’s] music for a very long time, I realized while playing the guitar that subconsciously he helped me perceive things differently,” Thanos said. “You know, it’s like when you play and sometimes your fingers move independently from your will to some positions that somehow feel familiar. That’s more or less how things turned out for ‘Unconscious Excursion.’”
Panos said he met Lipynsky through his work for Metal Hammer, where he chips in the occasional interview. The journalistic pas de deux turned into an email friendship and eventually a full blown musical collaboration as Dephosphorus began penning tunes for Night Sky Transform.
“Shortly before we entered the studio in order to record the album and being through with rehearsals at that moment of time, Thanos wrote this song with Ryan’s playing in mind since he feels connected to him as a guitarist,” Panos said. “The song was recorded as part of our album session and it was practically a jam, since Thanos and Nikos rehearsed it just a couple of times right before tracking it.”
For his part, Lipynsky said he jumped at the chance to work with the Greek up and comers as a nod to the old school tape trading style, he said.
“This is not just something that I would do for every random person that wrote me,” he said. “I knew Panos and crew were of the same mindset because of the years of friendship through mail and email.”
He took the band’s rough track, penned some lyrics and recorded his vocals at his Brooklyn recording studio, adding his own unique spin to Dephosphorus’ signature sound.
“I’ve yet to hear the final mix, but I’d like to think I brought a slightly different color to the Dephosphorus spirit from Greece,” Lipynsky said.
That “different color” sounds as though it may be bleeding through Dephosphorus’ blackened night permanently, shading Night Sky Transform.
“In general there is more space in the themes, the beats are more compact and the vocals are better too,” Thanos said. “But what really makes the difference is that the album has gone deeper into a blackened psychedelia. That’s what’s most interesting, because except the high velocities and frenetic beats there is some intellectualism going on and the tracks unfold when they are meant to. Another factor is that we have worked intensely on the material over a short period of time and that has contributed in making it sound more professional and complete. You’ll realize for yourself when you’ll listen to it!”

Monday, July 25, 2011

G&P Review: Noisear/The Arson Project

I am not writing this book for people below the age of 18, but I see no harm in telling young people to prepare for failure rather than success, since failure is the main thing that is going to happen to them.

Kurt Vonnegut
Hocus Pocus


Noisear/The Arson Project
Land of Entrapment

If I were

to break off my sentences at really random

points. That would disrupt any

flow the words would have, making

this really a bitch to read, wouldn’t

it? It

would probably interfere

with any enjoy

ment you’d get from reading this wouldn’

t it?

That’s the frustration I have with what should be an awesome split EP between two great young bands. The breaks between the songs are so long — five and six seconds in some cases — you lose any momentum from one track to the next. Noisear or The Arson Project will bang out a tune that plugs straight into your adrenal glands and then…stop. Long pause, and the bands have to establish that momentum again.
It’s a puzzle because these Relapse 7-inchers (this one is actually from late last year and I’m playing catch up) have been gems: Agoraphobic Nosebleed facing off with The Endless Blockade, Mumakil and Blockheads going head to head for a second time and, of course, Looking for an Answer’s awesome La Caceria. So I have no clue why the pacing on this one got all borked up.
Musically, both bands are working a fine hustle. While Noisear’s four tracks sound like demo versions of songs cut from Subvert the Dominant Paradigm, they display the same skronk ’n’ grind that’s made their name. This is the sound of platinum crickets armed with 21st Century recording technology. “Lamenting Breathalyzation” is Bryan Fajardo’s moment to shine as the bass and drums struggle to keep up with the punishing pace he sets. Guitarist Dorian Rainwater dominates “Li(f)e” with tight-wristed guitar rushes that may be better than some of the songs on their last full length. More than introducing a new sub-sub-sub genre on “Rhino Grind/Frienemy,” the song is one of the band’s better amalgams of all their competing impulses perhaps ever.
Flipside, Sweden’s The Arson Project’s four songs sound much more professional and are a logical continuation of Blood and Locusts. It continues their trajectory as an up and coming Scandi-grind phenomenon. Though the Niklas Larson’s vocals tend to be one dimensional, he gets a chance to stand on his own as the instruments drop away at the close of “Gutter King.” “Life Drained” swipes the glittering guitar tones from some shoegaze troupe, and just about the time you start pondering whether shoegazecore is (or ought) to be a thing, The Arson Project erupt into their wonted grisly grind ways.
Pauses and pacing issues aside, this another tidy little chunk of vinyl that adds Relapse’s imprimatur to two up and comers.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Blast(beat) from the Past: Subcut

Contra Fatos Nao Ha Argumentos


Brazil is a country I’ve wanted to do a regional roundup on for a couple of years now, and bands like Subcut are a large part of why. Unfortunately, I’ve just never been able to assemble the pieces I felt necessary to pay thorough tribute to the country’s prowess, but the country boasts an impressive grindcore culture from the legendary Rot through today’s practitioners. So I've been piecemealing the country's finer points.
Subcut’s debut full length Contra Fatos Nao Ha Argumentos is a grimy, sweaty snapshot of urban angst and barely concealed outrage. This is the Amores Perros of grindcore: from the urban pastiche graffiti-style art through the ghetto desperation of the individual songs, it’s got a street-level outlook on a corrupt, crumbling culture. Even if you don’t speak Portugese, songs about “Fascistas” and between song samples lambasting the “policia” eloquently convey their frustration.
Musically, Contra Fatos Nao Ha Argumentos is a more concise, Brazilian equivalent of Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses. Many of the songs have a real “Denial of Existence” vibe, in particular. The Sao Paulo trio, who all take a turn at the mic, have crafted a tight, fun album that knows its strengths and plays to them, channeling that awesome early ’90s vibe before grindcore became overproduced and stale.
If you haven't gotten down with Brazil's wax, now is a great time to start. And this is a great place to start.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

G&P Review: Deus Castiga

Deus Castiga
I’m Alive Fucking Dead
DC Records

If you’re not ashamed to admit having seen it, you may remember Kel Mitchell’s character in the execrable Mystery Men who was gifted with the power of invisibility – provided nobody is looking at him. That is, unfortunately, how I feel about Brazil’s Deus Castiga. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with their thrashulated grind, but each time I’ve sat down to write up their EP I’m Alive Fucking Dead, I’ve drawn a total blank. If they’re not in front of me, Deus Castiga’s 13 songs – other than “Scars,” which winds itself into a nice tight tizzy – just don’t leave that much of an impression.
Deus Castiga rock out like a thrashier Selfhate but there’s some missing X factor to their music that I’m craving but just not getting. The guitars shrill like power drills winding up and the band favors spidery, trebly movements. The upper register screeches border on blistered black metal. I think it’s the drumming that might be my biggest stumbling block. Technically, it’s a busy brew of snare drum fills and blast beats, but the clicking double bass drums grate the nerves.
Deus Castiga are a band with plenty of musical skill to burn and with I’m Alive Fucking Dead they leave it all on the ice, as they say in hockey circles. So I don’t want this to song more negative than it needs to be, but I’m just gonna be looking for the band to make more of a songwriting leap in the future. If you're going to castigate the deus, I want to feel the lashes.

[Full disclosure: The band sent me a download.]

Monday, July 18, 2011

Demo-lition Derby: Gripe

The Future Doesn’t Need You
There’s a reason the American Congress takes the summers off. For those who have never experienced a D.C. summer, it’s humid hellbroth of liquefied air and molten pavement that conspires against all forms of mammalian life. The entire city becomes a sodden, festering urban swamp that’s only fit for reptiles and nematodes. So maybe politicians would fit right in after all.
Georgia’s Gripe perfectly encapsulate the reason I loathe this city a good four months out of the year because their sweltering take on grind and power violence on their eight song demo is like watching a thunderstorm build on the horizon on a devastatingly humid summer day. The slow building nature of songs like “Go for the Throat” or “History of Violence” is like praying for the lightning to shear away the oppressive humidity only to cut loose with a barrage of frigid hail. The band has a tinge of ASRA about their protein-rich grind and hints of Benumb in their punked stops and starts.
Taken individually, the songs on The Future Doesn’t Need You massage the grindcore node of your limbic region. However, I wonder how the songs would hold up under full length conditions. While Gripe can fashion a great tune, too many times they fall back on a blast/slow part/blast formulation. It’s a move they’ve mastered, but one trick does not make a magic show.
However, this is a very promising effort but an up and comer. You can check out The Future Doesn’t Need You at their Bandcamp page.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Demo-lition Derby: Divorce Party

Divorce Party
Astrocongertion Oporium
I hate to start with a motheaten cliché, but here it goes: Divorce Party are about the journey not the destination. That is unless you consider “down the rabbit hole” to be a destination. A potent audio psychedelic, Divorce Party is what would happen if Melt-Banana were to drunkenly hook up with Minus the Bear for some Phantomsmasher cosplay at a chiptunes convention.
What I’m saying is somewhere James Plotkin is smiling in approval, but if you’re not a multidimensional musical visionary, the five songs of blibbity bloop core with Charles Dodgson-style nonsensical wordplay can be frustratingly discursive. “Chipidy Clop,” a fairly representative sample smack in the middle of the EP, is a giant bouncy balloon castle of a song where the rhythms stumble drunkenly and slide askance, leaving you little purchase. It’s a kaleidoscopic swirl of coruscating shapes and colors. The band holds up a fun house mirror to grind and punk sensibilities, but I found many of the songs never seemed to grow beyond mildly entertaining slights of musical hand. Whether this Jabberwock-core is a postmodern rip on musical stagnation or audio trolling, that’s for you to decide. Two of their EPs are available at their Bandcamp page.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Steelers: Willowtip and the Pittsburgh Four (+1)

LinkThere was something brewing in Pittsburgh in the late 1990s and into the start of this century, and it wasn’t the city’s fondness for pisswater beer. There was a surly, bruising breed of death/grind monstrosities that packed all of the wallop of the burnt out industrial burg’s vaunted Steel Curtain defensive line. I went to college a couple hours outside of the city at the time and much of my metallic worldview was formed during shows at the dearly departed Club Laga. I can’t remember ever seeing any of these bands there, but by the late ’90s their names were already circulating through the pits.
Pittsburgh deathgrind, centered on the up and coming Willowtip label, was an incestuous tumult of bands and musicians who set out to make ugly, forward thinking music that compares favorably to the Phoenix scene of the same era. The insularity and spirit of collaboration that dominated at the time ensured the best ideas had been put through a proving process that fired away the dross, leaving only a core that was as grim and hardened as the steel mill shift workers.
The bands, following the trail of forerunners such as Human Remains and hometown heroes Hideous Mangleus, were not slaves to the traditional death metal ruts so many other bands churned at the time. This was music that was often ahead of its time, and you can draw a direct line to subsequent artists such as Luddite Clone, Noisear and Maruta. In the process these are also the bands that help establish one of the finest labels supporting great music today.

Circle of Dead Children
The Genocide Machine


Circle of Dead Children were and are Pittsburgh’s nexus. They’re the last man standing and best exemplars of the city’s deathgrind ugliness and 2003’s The Genocide Machine was their apotheosis. This is a grim, grisly feral album that doesn’t wallow in so much as celebrate humanity’s impending, self-inflicted doom. It's all the more surprising considering the meh-diocrity of their prior full length, Starving the Vultures. The coal-blackened guitars churn up the kind of slag-laden sludge you can only find along the coal barges docked along the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. The drums are the pounding of a steel foundry cranking out the girders that built a nation while Joe Harvarth is the living voice of the clock-punching shift worker who stopped short of going full Travis Bickle on his neighbors' asses for another day.
Circle of Dead Children are the apex predator of Pittsburgh’s musical underbelly because they have proven infinitely adaptable. As contemporary bands dissolved, members were systematically absorbed into CODC in a process of constant musical transfusion that has kept them hunting and vital.

Creation is Crucifixion


A full decade before either Anonymous or Lulz Sec decided to shred residual notions of online security in the name of drollery or trollery or some ideological point they have yet to articulate, Creation is Crucifixion were passionate proponents of the hacktivist lifestyle. Their music was just as visionary and may only be finding its moment today. First full length Automata found the band blending stolen samples, audio experiments and their own roiling cyborg ant colony riffing with a lyrical obsession with subverting the consumerist impulse and bending technology to their own techno-anarchic ends. CiC were grappling with the intersection of humanity and the digital culture long before it became fashionable. The music was just as visionary. Churning maelstrom blastbeasts backline suffocating waves of silicon-sharp guitars that squeal and skronk like protesting machinery. Whey Skynet goes sentient, Creation is Crucifixion will be the fitting soundtrack as the bombs start dropping. Like the band boasted, this is where technology and anarchy fuck.

Fate of Icarus
Cut Your Throat Before They Do


From humble beginnings as a rather straightforward death metal band with grindcore inflections, the short lived Fate of Icarus developed a unique, slurring riff style for the underrated Cut Your Throat Before They Do. Fate of Icarus stood as the pivot between Circle of Dead Children, whose throat monster Joe Hovarth chipped in mic work on some early tracks (collected on Suffocate the Angels), and the parallel dimensions being inhabited by Creation is Crucifixion, with which the band shared guitarists Ryan Unks and Adam MacGregor. (Bonus points: The band also boasted links to Pittsburgh crossover goofs Crucial Unit as well.) Fate of Icarus’ protein-laden death was interwoven with roiling maggots of guitar histrionics that gave the Cut Your Throat its prickly texture. Songs roar along at just sub-blastbeat tempos, placing the burden on the other instruments to carry the musical load. This is pissed off swarm of hornets (dressed in the black and yellow, natch) with iron wings and a truly bad attitude.

Sadis Euphoria


While Sadis Euphoria’s lumbering, traditional death metal lurk may have positioned them as the Lenny to their contemporaries’ more ambitious George, their gurgled take on Cannibal Corpse by way of some grind influences slouched and snarled with the best of them. Sadis Euphoria were Pittsburgh’s anchor to traditional death metal with a focus on slab-sided riffs and shotgunned drumming. Everything is propulsive and concussive, dropping like a dirty bomb at the city core with timely farting bass breakdowns and vocals churned up straight from the duodenum. Though Sadis Euphoria never seemed to find their foothold among the death metal hordes, drummer Mike Bartek and one-time Sadis bassist Drew Haritan both suited up for CODC’s Zero Comfort Margin, carrying their band’s musical tradition forward.

Bonus Beating From Across the Border:

The End of Nothing


Dayton, Ohio’s Rune were birthed 255 miles too far to the west to truly count as a Pittsburgh band, but if we’re charting the rise of Willotip’s early core, they have to be included. After an early EP of traditional deathgrind murder and a split with New York’s Kalibas, Rune migrated to Willowtip for their farewell mindfuck The End of Nothing. This is a protean band that showed a different face with ever release. Here, their doomed out death is what Neurosis songs would sound like as played by Morbid Angel. Everything is groaning and miserable, flecked with emotive, evocative riffs and swirl like poorly vented smokestack choking the neighborhood with toxic emissions. The End of Nothing sounded like absolutely nothing anybody was doing at the time – or today for that matter. It’s doom death that keeps the focus squarely on the death part, knowing when to drop in a timely blast to keep things from wallowing too deep in the mire. Sadly, the band evaporated like mist in a dreary forest shortly after the album was released. Members moved on to bands like Kenoma and Mouth of the Architect, but they never recaptured the thunder the way they did on The End of Nothing.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Panic! At the Discography: Agathocles

Mincecore History 1985-1990

Mincecore History 1989-1993

Mincecore History 1993-1996
The fact that I enjoy Agathcoles as much as I do – which is more than is probably healthy – comes despite – not because – of the fact that I own three of band’s four discography collections courtesy of Selfmadegod. When I said the discography is probably worst blight inflicted upon grindcore, these are exactly the albums I had in mind.
The Belgians are the king of the split, which is great because a little Agathocles can often go a really long way. So being hit upside the head with 40 or 50 poorly produced tracks from the band’s various splits and comp appearances is exhausting, wearying and aggravating. In their original format as one off 7-inches, these songs would pass without comment and quite a few would rule hard. But being bludgeoned relentlessly by – let’s be honest here – interminably identical songs of often questionable quality does not do the band proud.
Packaging-wise, the normally awesome Selfmadegod simply collects the material onto a single disc. There’s no liner notes from band mainstay Jan Frederickx illuminating the band’s various travails, revolving membership or at least highlighting bits and pieces of the songs and spoken word bits. Instead each album treats us to the same career discography that was probably woefully out of date by the time it was sent to the printer. For a band whose back catalog is as deep and varied as Agathocles', context is not a luxury for these kinds of collections; it's a necessity.
This is exactly what bothers me about a lot of discographies. Collecting 75 minutes of material (in triplicate) is enough to test the most ardent grind fan’s patience, so I expect discographies, especially if I’m shelling out for a physical copy, to go the extra step and offer me something that places the music in some sort of perspective. Discographies should be more than a collection of disparate music; they should illuminate either the band or their moment in history. To simply shovel songs onto an album just doesn’t cut it. Discographies done right can often serve as an excellent gateway into a band that maybe you haven’t explored before. But if you are new to Agathocles and interested in the legendary Belgians, I can’t imagine a worse introduction. Go grab pretty much any split or full length at random. These are for the hardcore record collector nerds only.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Demo-lition Derby: Priapus

Air Loom
North Carolina’s Priapus leave me absolutely speechless. Not because their Maruta meets Benumb at a Jello wrestling convention crush doesn’t kick ass. Because it totally does. No, Priapus have stolen all my words because cmon… Priapus! So many dick jokes to choose from to kick this off. I’m paralyzed by the possibilities. As it is, Priapus is turgid with possibilities because they swing enough sack to give Jesse Helms horrific Mapplethorpe flashbacks. Their six song demo verily throbs with one of the burliest guitar tones you’ll ever hear on a demo, exploding with an orgasmic fury.
Ok, but enough of that.
Over 11 minutes of erectile destruction, Air Loom mixes slippery fingered dexterity with a grunting Neanderthal bluntness. It’s the same subterranean grumble that slouches toward Maruta, waiting to be born. All of that is corralled by a Pete Pontikoff style drill sergeant bark that keeps all the kiddies in line. Highlights include the prickly hedgehog “Where is Everybody,” which is spiked all over with concertina wire guitar nastiness.
You can check out Air Loom at Priapus’ Bandcamp page, and if it tickles your nethers, a short run of CDs is also available at Big Cartel. I’d highly recommend giving this one a spin, but if enjoyment lasts more than four hours, consult your physician.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Grindcore for Dummies

Extreme metal demands extreme marketing.
As sub-sub-sub genres like folk-inflected post-death blackened NeurIsis-core further slice and dice the metal audience into niche-ier and niche-ier niches, bands have to work harder and harder to woo their target demographic. And clearly they don’t think we’re bright enough to read the giant hype sticker on the front of their album proclaiming them the grindiest grind that ever ground because a number of them go to absurd lengths to remind us they play grindcore.
Absurd lengths like…



Magrudergrind play grind and they’re from the Magruder neighborhood near D.C. You see where this is going? That’s like me naming my this place Suburban Townhouse Grindcore Blog, the only name possibly worse than the one I already chose. But if you write grind tunes as catchy as Magrudergrind, you may want to make it as obvious as possible to their target demographic that they’re not banging out Maroon 5 covers at their high school dance.

While few bands have gone to the length of shoving grind into their name, more than a few have oh so subtly reminded you of the blastbeaten proclivities in their album titles.

Grind Finale


More than any other band, Nasum have earned the right to proclaim their grindcore bonafides via album title with an unparalleled track record of essential albums. I’ve previously sung the praises of this immaculate tribute to the late Mieszko Talarczyk, which collects everything that didn’t end up on their four Relapse albums. This is grind incarnate and the finale of an unsurpassed career. They get a pass. But statistically speaking, your band is probably not Nasum (the numbers are not gonna lie there; don't argue with numbers). So that means you should probably avoid that level of obviousness. You haven't earned it.


How obvious can you get, you ask. Astute question, young grasshopper.
Spain’s Denak are as about as blatant as you can get, simply naming their retrospective collection Grindcore. Try to picture how that in-band conversation may have gone:
What should we name our album?
I dunno. How about grindcore?
Glad that's settled. Who's up for some tapas?
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand ... Scene.
Band members would develop more tact when they went on to form Looking for an Answer, but Denak was brash enough to stake their claim to the genre as a whole. They were talented enough to back it up as well. See the Nasum rule above. You are not Denak. Do not do this.

HG Fact

How do you rebel against grind? If 324 are to be believed, it includes copious amounts of crust and a few gang choruses. 324 doubled down on the grind proclamations with 2006’s Rebelgrind, announcing their intentions not only through the title but also in the CD tray, which anoints their music “Grind Babylon/Babylon Grind.” Yeah. I have no clue what the fuck that means either. But it's Japanese, so I'm just gonna assume it's awesome and involves tentacle rape. But perhaps the whole “rebel” shtick was a defensive move because 324 knew how polarizing this album would be.

Unholy Grave
Grind Killers



Japanese antiterrorism freaks Unholy Grave put a hit out on grindcore with 2010 live in the studio album Grind Killers. Dear Unholy Grave, this is an intervention. After 18 years and a metric butt ton of splits, we know you play grindcore. And if we didn't, I'm pretty sure we could have intuited that fact based on Unholy Grind Destruction, Grind Freaks, Grind Victim, Angry Raw Grinder, Raw Grind Mayhem, Grinding Hell Slaughter, Grind Heads, Grind Eternal, Grindholic, Grindignation, The Grind Militia, Immortal Grind Legion, Grind Hell and Grind Blitz.
We get it. Now please stop.

Putting the grind in your band name or album title will certainly grab the eyeballs, but some people just don’t want to be that gauche. Album art provides another excellent outlet to proclaim your grind fidelity.

Loony Planet/Industreality
Sound Pollution


I randomly bought Cyness’ debut album during a going out of business sale at Tower Records. For you whippernsappers out there a “Tower” was one of many physical places called a “store” that sold “records” in an era before you could simply download it. Now get the hell of my lawn.
Why did I grab this, having previously never heard of the German band? Well that gigantic “grindcore” spooning underneath their logo on the album cover was pretty much all the enticement I needed. Well played, gentlemen.

Bear in mind this is not a foolproof system. For every band jumping up and down on a street corner shouting “GRINDCORE” into a day-glo green megaphone, you’ve also got to keep an eye out for moments of pareidolia. Moments like…

Scrotum Grinder
Greatest Sonic Abomination Ever


Scrotum Grinder sounds like the kind of name you’d pick for your high school Carcass cover band. And when you hear the Floridians feature Steve Kosiba, bassist on Assuck’s Misery Index, visions of blast beats should start dancing in your bewildered little heads. Actually, this chick fronted band surfed the final wave of southern crust punk, drawing more inspiration for Antischism than Anal Cunt. While still an enjoyable listen (and despite a fixation on Ronald Reagan 13 years after he left office) the down tempo chug-a-lug shoutalong may not satisfy your bpm jones. And album title to the contrary, it is not the worst sonic abomination ever. I've heard Pat Boone's metal album.

AfgrundLinkVid Helvetets Grindar

Also beware the illusory false cognates. Sure Afgrund sounds like it should be some sort of past participle tribute to their grinding awesomeness (think something like Metallica, but hopefully not pissing off Hitler). But the name actually means Abyss in Swedish (please tell me they're recording their next album at Peter Tagtgren's studio). Afgrund set you up for a double dose of misconception here because their second album, Vid Helvetets Grindar, sounds like it's out to pimp grind like Unholy Grave. Nope, foiled again. Run through an internet translator, I’m told Vid Helvetets Grindar has nothing to do with hellaciously awesome grind. Instead, it means something close to “At Hell’s Gates.” Still perfectly metal, just not as grindcentric as an amateur translator may assume on first glance

Monday, July 4, 2011

Blast(beat) from the Past: Unsane Crisis/Hashassin

Unsane Crisis/Hashassin

Throne Records

With a new Looking for an Answer album making me do the Snoopy dance, I wanted to pay tribute to another transitional fossil in the Spanish band’s evolutionary development: Unsane Crisis. I’ve already gushed my warm manlove for Denak, where Looking for an Answer vocalist Inaki and drummer Moya got their start, but bassist Ramon traces his roots back to Unsane Crisis.
That band, whose discography consists only of this split with fellow Spaniards Hashassin and then another shared album with Ekkaia, actually leans more to the burly, grisly grind of another slice of Spanish awesome, Nashgul. Their opening 16 selections sound like a tribute to classic grind: all blower bass rumble and power drill riffing done in a tidy 30 seconds or less for the most part. Though they keep it short, Unsane Crisis manage to ensure each song has an identity and a movement of its own without giving way to faceless blasting. Ramon also makes his mark on the song “Anti-Emo” where he busts out a pitch perfect parody of self indulgent Red Hot Chili Peppers bass noodling. You can see why Looking for an Answer had to snag him a few years later.
Flipside, less info is available about Hashassin (so if anybody knows more, feel free to share) whose 13 songs are burdened under the weight of overly long, intrusive samples and a featureless wall of fuzz and screaming. While the band occasionally channels Total Fucking Destruction style vocal wipeouts, their songs are mostly a forgettable blur that don’t demand close listens. As far as I can tell, this is the sum total of the band’s existence.
Neither band was destined for the grindcore hall of fame, but for those curious about the emerging supremacy of Spanish grind, this is an interesting footnote in that development.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Grindcore Numerology

You didn’t think we were gonna leave it like that didja? After 20 alphabet posts, we officially bring this project to a close with this final (admittedly) tiny mixtape collecting grindcore’s numerical offerings. I hope you've found the whole exercise helpful, maybe discovered a hidden gem or two or finally checked out a band everyone has been raving about that had escaped your notice. There were a few in here that came as a surprise to me too. Hello, Muleskinner!
But here we are at the end of the road and I can't let go. I also can't think of a better to wrap way to this all up than with 324 either (but I wasn't able to find a decent 7 Minutes of Nausea rip either). Think of it as a spoonful of sherbet to cleanse your palette on the way out. Go ahead. You have room. It’s only wafer thin.
Here’s your Numbers Mixtape [Mediafire]:

7000 Dying Rats – “Annihilator the Devastator”
40 Gradi – “Limitless” (Croatia)
48 – “Hitori” (Japan)
324 – “Broken Clock” (Japan)

Grand total: 404 bands