Your mom or your local shampoo purveyor probably told you at some point during your impressionable youth that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. While your mom probably meant you shouldn't scratch your balls and spit on the floor during your job interview, it's also applicable to our own little grindcore realm.
As I become older and more crotchety (you damn kids stay off my blog's lawn!), I'm starting to lose patience with albums that take for-fuckin'-ever to really get ramped up. It seems like two out of three records these days start off with an overly long movie sample, a squall of feedback or a slow motion riff that explodes into blastbeats after a few seconds. There's nothing wrong with that per se, but unless you've dreamed up something as cool as Pig Destroyer's "Jennifer," it's probably best to just get straight to the blasting. That's why we're all here.
While I've tackled the ongoing blight of grind bands ending albums on slow songs, I want to be more positive with a tribute to those who know how to put their foot in the door straight away.
I had a few issues with Afgrund's The Age of Dumb: the art was wretched, the title moronic and some of the music too safe and tame. All that aside, the no-longer-Swedish band just ripped it out the gate with "Life And Death Of A Broiler." This is how you start an album. The song just bangs from the first second, no lead up, no introduction, no bullshit.
Assuck were yet another band who wasted no time in getting down to the grind with second album Misery Index. "QED" just punched you in the chicklets and dared you to buck back. Assuck are in control and you will just sit the fuck down for the next 20 minutes and take what they're about to hand your puny little ass. Thank you, sir, may I have another?
Scumdog Eat Scumdog
A quick snare roll and Germany's cosplay grinders Attack of the Mad Axemen are off to the animal-hugging races. The title track tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Scumdogs of the Forest, the band's excellent second record. They set the proper tone from the hop and every song that came after it continued that pattern of sharp, jolting attacks.
It only took Blood I Bleed 16 seconds to establish their grindcore alpha male dominance with "Talk Shit and Spit Blood" from Gods Out of Monsters. Not only does that wall of screaming and blast beats command your immediate attention, it's pretty much a template for how these Dutch dervishes obliterate one of the best modern grind albums you're likely to hear.
OK, so technically Cellgraft did that slow build up thing on "Centrosymmetric," External Habitation's lead off track, that I was just bitching about a couple hundred words ago. But fuck me sideways is that opening chord huge. Tell me that shit doesn't immediately grab you by the short and curlies and demand your undivided attention while they have their musical way with your shivering earholes.
Crowpath's "One With Filth," from the album of the same name, sounds like the grindcore version of in media res. It's like there was some slow burn introduction that should have been tacked on to the start of the song, but the band hit the studio and decided, "fuck it, we'll just start in the middle." The song and the album are all the better for it because that jolt gives One With Filth an awesome sense of immediacy.
Gadget's "Still" sounds like a chainsaw revving up as it slashes through debut album Remote. That's how you alert the world to your presence and make sure your target demographic remains riveted. No frills, no polite introduction. Gadget just burst through the door and swept my little blastbeatin' heart off of its metaphorical feet.
GridLink guitarist Takafumi Matsubara's decision to blend insane Japanese speed metal riffing with grindcore was a moment of brilliant inspiration that should be immortalized in a fresco on whatever passes for grind's Sistine Chapel. While "Naked Pieces Scattered," the first song the band released, teased what was coming, absolutely nothing prepared me for the way Amber Gray's title track would decimate my limited conception of what grindcore could be. This is a song that still floors me every time I put the album on more than four years later.
Kill the Client conquered the grincore sand pile with "Divide and Conquer," the fragment grenade opening splash from Cleptocracy. That's how you start a grind record: biting chords, relentless drumming and some slavering maniac shouting at you incoherently. You can't tell what the fuck he's saying, but they way they're flailing around, you get the sense it just might be important.
I and I
Mumakil's "I" from Customized Warfare is such a damn good lead off track that I made sure it was the first thing people heard when I did that grindcore mixtape for Invisible Oranges a few years ago. It just makes such a great first impression: heavy as shit riffing, a hint of groove, some Swiss nutbar shouting at you and some seriously tight drumming. It just slams you around like a pitbull that's caught a chipmunk. Mumakil spent the rest of Customized Warfare hunting down the rest of that varmint's family.
This is It
Nasum can do no wrong in my eyes and "This Is..." not only introduced the band's first album Inhale/Exhale with a brutal 36 second mission statement that featured (gasp!) largely intelligible vocals, but it was my introduction to the band way back when. Luckily I had a local record store guy (back when such things existed) who knew my tastes well enough to shove this one under my nose. For that, I'm eternally grateful.
Alone Again, Naturally
Rotten Sound is one of those bands that people associate with a bad case of blastaholism, but they've actually indulged in that whole slow start to an album trend more than once. So it was nice that Cursed just stomped your face in with "Alone." The Finns have rarely sounded more impassioned and blasting out the gate really kept the energy high as the album on the whole leaned more toward the band's crust punk side.
Bloody But Unbowed
France's Blockheads laid it on the line with "Bow Down," the opening salvo from Shapes of Misery. The song twists and turns through grind and crust and bits of hardcore, but that first volley is pure face smashing grindcore powered by a gigantic sounding guitar. Giant sounding albums seem to be on their way out the last decade or so, but it's nice to hear somebody just shove a giant steel toed boot in your front door and refuse to budge until you've heard them out.