Sleep's Holy Mountain Bike*
Insect Warfare roaring in my ears, my face to the wind like a dog hanging out a car window, I realized that GODDAMN but grindcore and hardcore are fucking fun music! I know that's probably not much of a revelation to most of you, but every so often I get caught up in the grim misery that so many metal and punk bands (hilariously) try to project that I forget that this stuff is really enjoyable. It's helpful to remember the earliest Napalm Death rehearsals collapsed into giggles at the absurdity of it all.
Not everything has to be all serious and intense. In honor of that helpful reminder, here are a handful of albums that will staple gun an idiot grin on your face.
Endless Execution Through Violent Restitution
World Extermination is obviously a better album, but this collection of early EPs, comp appearances and leftover tracks is a more fun Insect Warfare experience. The guitars are bigger and burlier and the performances are looser than World Extermination, making it all feel more casual. I dare you not to smile during a song like "Freebase Diarrhea." Go ahead. Try it.
Destination Time Yesterday
The first chapter of Graf Orlock's three-part '80s action film-quoting, time traveling narrative mindfuck was totally unexpected and unique when it dropped in 2006. There was absolutely nothing like it at the time. From its conception through its execution, Destination Time Today was the equivalent of a very well done, but not exactly deep action flick on cable at 3 a.m. after a hard night of drinking with friends. Graf Orlock would improve with each outing both in output and packaging (see the Alien facehugger packaging of Destination Time Tomorrow or the exemplary Doombox). But by then we knew what to expect. Not that it lessened the fun factor in the slightest.
Right from the adrenal OD of kickoff "Powerload," Disfear's bouncing d-beaten hardcore is ready to play. While Discharge may have been all intense and serious, many of their wayward progeny have picked up on the fact that a skipping d-beat just naturally lends itself to an uptempo, feel good rager. Bolstered by a buzzing, electric production courtesy of Mieszko Talarczyck (who I've read was actually disappointed in its sound), Misanthropic Generation, the first Disfear album to showcase you-know-who up front, jolts you out of your chair with its freewheeling guitar leads and compels you to move.
My relationship with Dirge has been ... complicated. But it all clicked into place a few weeks ago when I realized I'd simply been approaching Wormrot's second album all wrong. Abuse was a brutal little nugget of a beast. My mistake was trying to box in Singapore's finest. I forgot that Wormrot are three young dudes who unexpectedly landed a deal with one of grindcore's most venerable labels. They wanted to see the world with a little cash in their pockets and just have some damn fun. And Dirge is a fun record. It's loose, blasting and was recorded in a hurry. There was no overthinking or serious sophomore slump. I still prefer Abuse, but I find myself increasingly reaching for Dirge when I just want to smile.
Grind Killers has very quickly become my favorite album from prolific Nagoya terrorist foes Unholy Grave. There's a spontaneity that comes from its live in the studio production that ups the fun factor substantially compared to some of their other voluminous offerings. And if that's not enough to remind you that grind is supposed to be fun, a cover of the Ramones' "Beat on the Brat" that can only be described as very ... Japanese ... underscores you're supposed to feel good when you give Grind Killers a listen.
I dare you to name a better hardcore record (Shane? Hmm? Ball's in your court). The Bad Brains' iconic first album was the pure essence of adrenaline captured on tape and distilled into a pure audio form. Straight from needle drop on opener "Sailin' On," Bad Brains just explode. Damn near every song is a class on uptempo pit-movers and the reggae breath-catchers are perfectly placed to build up the anticipation for ragers like "Fearless Vampire Killers" and "Pay to Cum." I and I rock for light.
I would be remiss if I didn't include one of the best grind albums for biking, Rotten Sound's Cycles. Geddit, geddit? Cycles! Ha. I kill me.
But seriously, this is a fun album to ride to.
*Yes, I have a bit of a sticker obsession.