Necrosis Records (reissued by Relapse)
When you think one album grindcore wonder, Repulsion should be the first name that leaps to the forefront of your mind. The Michigan band midwifed grindcore with its sole full length album, Horrified. It's a perfect album: Slayer thrash pushed to the logical limits of extremity, horror film ambiance mixed with a punk-like disdain for the pretty and precise.
Cretin have made no secret of their love for Repulsion (you may have noticed both Freakery and Horrified end on the word "fuck") and both bands are riding a single great album. It took goddess of grotesque Marissa Martinez and her helper monkeys 14 years to release their first album and the trio has been pretty quiet since then. (Granted, Martinez has had a few notable life adjustments during that period.) But even if they never release another album (or take another 14 years for a sequel), Freakery will stand as a modern grindcore masterpiece, the distillation of Tod Browning's Freaks in audio form. The album is a celebration of the oddities, abnormalities and curiosities that make life exciting.
The Way of All Flesh
ASRA came and went in a flash, almost as quickly as the ridiculous daycare satanic panic that inspired the New York band's name. In their wake they left behind a single grisly, deathy album of scabies-raw grind in The Way of All Flesh. While the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak and ASRA called it quits shortly after dropping their lone longplayer, but it should be enough to warrant a well deserved asterisk on the list of unsung grindcore heroes. ASRA may not have burst into the mass consciousness the way contemporaries like Insect Warfare did, but The Way of All Flesh is an album whose reputation I could see growing with time.
Who's My Saviour?
Power It Up
There is a metric shit-ton of bands out there who released one album and then faded away into well deserved obscurity. But Who's My Saviour? made a bid for certified overlooked gem status with 2007's Glasgow Smile. Featuring members of Cyness and Wojczech, the German band combined genetic strains from their parent collectives to birth something new and unique. Glasgow Smile reveled in a sense of dynamism and artistry rarely seen in grindcore (at least until the advent of Dephosphorus). Who's My Saviour? mix up the grindcore playbook, toying with tempos and atmosphere to create a compelling and, ultimately listenable, grindcore whatsis experience.
Black Army Jacket
Black Army Jacket recorded enough various splits and EPs to stock their hefty discography collection Closed Casket, but the New York power violence purveyors only had one full length album to their credit, 222, which features what may be drumming ubermensch Dave Witte's only known vocal credit in his lengthy recording career ("When I Can't See You Are You There?"). Everything that made power violence/grind/hardcore/thrash/whatever great gets a workout on 222. Pit stirring chugs, blastbeaten brawling and various vocal cord scrapings were lashed together to form the backbone of Black Army Jacket's wrong coast power violence experiment. One album was all they needed to establish themselves.
In true early -'90s punk fashion, Boston just-short-of-grind-hardcore band Disrupt recorded enough splits and EPs to fill two CDs when Relapse reissued the band's back catalog a few years ago. While all those various odds and bits are worth seeking out, the band's legacy really rests on punk masterpiece Unrest. Featuring three different vocalists, including the incomparable and, unfortunately, underutilized Alyssa Murry, Disrupt spit and snarled their way through 20 tracks of blastbeaten rage and urban angst. "Religion is a Fraud," in particular, is one of the greatest hardcore songs ever written and Murry was at her screaming finest. Feminism, animal rights, religion, war and poverty are pretty common punk and grind topics, but few have screamed about them with the passion of Disrupt.
Realistically, what was the shelf life of Garfield grind? Even if Shane Embury hadn't moved on to Napalm Death, Unseen Terror, which also featured Mitch Dickenson of Heresy and occasional vocal contributions from Mick Harris, probably didn't have more than one album in them. But that album was a doozy. Human Error is an early grind landmark, particularly the buzzing bumblebee guitar, which legend has it greatly influenced the sounds of Swedish death metal. And unlike inspiration Garfield, Unseen Terror knew when to hang up the cleats and call it a day. After the 20 tracks that comprise Human Error, Unseen Terror only demoed another six songs. Though they've threatened to reunite several times since, thankfully they've left their legacy to rest to date. Just ask Bill Murray what past-its-prime Garfield can do to an otherwise successful career.