If this year's crop of demos are any indication, we're going to have several good years of grind before us. 2011 was chockablock with scrappy youngsters who respect their elders but aren't afraid to muscle their way to the front of the line. Especially this year's number one demo. I'd say a good four or five of these young bands could break out in the next few years. If so, the future is extremely bright.
11. Shangkuan Lingfeng
Scrappy Indonesians Shangkuan Lingfeng bulldoze their way into the last spot on the best-of list by enthusiasm and will alone. Their three song live-in-a-rehearsal-room demo may have lacked niceties (like intelligible instruments), but the band powers through with a pomp and bite that redeem the whole package. Fans of gut-level grind that gets by on energy and doesn't get hung up on the technical details need look no further.
Detroit were readying a split with Robocop when their demo landed in my inbox and the Canadian band in many ways comes off as Robocop Jr., minus all the audio experimentation. What that leaves is an updated assault on '90s fast hardcore's foundations. Names like Infest, Crossed Out and Capitalist Casualties should come up in any conversation about their demo.
Spewtilator just might have penned some of the stupidest songs I've ever heard as part of their old style crashin' thrashin' Get Conjured. And deity of their choice bless them for that. It's a needed reminded that sometimes we take ourselves way too damn seriously. Some days you need to drop your worries and run around your living room pitting to songs about NES games and zombie bears.
The Future Doesn't Need You
Gripe have got their grinding down, now they just need to add a few extra shelves to the workbench. The songs on The Future Doesn't Need You are uniformly strong but lack a bit of variety. However, this demo (later picked up by Grindcore Karaoke) is piquant enough that I've marked Gripe down as a band to watch. These guys have plenty of room to grow and the knowhow to get there.
Syntax are on that bleeding edge of bands that absorbed Discordance Axis with their mother's milk and aren't afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves. Assuck also played a prominent role in their growth. While someone like Cellgraft has been able to turn those two pole stars into something unique, you can catch Syntax cribbing from the sheet music every so often. However, with their demo they're off to a fine start on a career that should take them far, provided their learn to bend others' tools to their will.
6. Colombian Necktie
Colombian Necktie would make this list for the song "Joe" alone. That may be the first great hardcore song written about America's recent military excursions. The pain and guilt of that one song are undeniable and absolutely arresting. That's good enough to get the nod, but they included four other songs, including the totally unexpected piano interlude of "Lirit." Amidst the rest of their hardcore lashings, it was a surprising digression but definitely a sign of confidence from a young band.
5. God Harvest
You got your Man is the Bastard in my Vulgar Pigeons. You got your Vulgar Pigeons in my Man is the Bastard. Two great tastes that taste great together, God Harvest mix up the speedy with the trudgy and pound them both into sand with a piledriver of a bass. This isn't a demo that you listen to so much as one you feel deep in your gut. A nice, warm vibraty feeling all through your guttiwuts, as my droog Alex would put it. Put this one on right before a bout of the old ultraviolence.
Beats of Rage
More than any other demo this year, Busuk left me wanting more. I'm curious to see how far this crusty-grindy group of miscreants can spread their wings after they banged and bumped with the perfect blend of intelligible performance and live-in-your-living room energy. But at only three songs, this demo feels like a bit of a tease. I know they have more left in the tank. I can't wait to hear it.
3. The Oily Menace
All Out Folk Attack
The only reason this isn't ranked any higher is that it's entirely cover versions of Napalm Death's "The Kill" and a handful of folk tunes stretching from the Depression straight through the '60s protest music heyday. Though the tunes are not original, The Oily Menace's passion is undeniable. All Out Folk Attack just bleeds excess energy into the atmosphere. This young band (who chased their demo with a quality threeway with Cloud Rat and Wolbachia) are the perfectly poised troubadours for the moment. It's an era of unrest and they've found a way to tap into that sense of anxiety and unease that define the age of economic collapse.
2. Per Capita
The Damage Done
Per Capita don't do a single original thing on The Damage Done, but they do it with such swagger and panache that it's easily pardoned. Rugged grind and crusty d-beat take one more victory lap around the track, but Per Capita are skilled enough songsmiths that I don't mind curling up with an old favorite. Plus they cover Dropdead. I'm pretty sure there's a rule somewhere that says if you pull off a great Dropdead cover you get a pass.
Genital grinders Priapus redefine cock rock with their stellar demo, Air Loom, which takes a run at the swampy grind throne Maruta, unfortunately, just vacated. Priapus come right out of the gate with the most professional sounding demo of the year and with the attitude and chops to back up their swagger. This is the sound of tendons snapping and joints cracking over the rack in the hands of a skilled inquisitor. They play your pain like an extra instrument. I'm expecting big things from this Willowtip-ready band.