This year, in particular, I have to thank all the cool bands and labels who were generous enough to share their music with me. Since the advent of the Lil Grinder, my discretionary music buying budget has been slashed to zero. So more than ever I’m reliant upon the kindness of strangers. And this year strangers had some pretty damn good taste. Let’s get down to it.
10. Dead Church/Suffering Mind
Don’t get the wrong idea. The only thing that puts this split down at number 10 is the fact that it’s just one song from each band. But sweet holy fucking Shiva on a shingle, those two songs are absolute humdingers. Suffering Mind have been operating at an extremely high level for quite a few years now, but “War Street/Wall Street” may be the most perfect distillation of the Polish band’s polish and promise that I’ve ever heard. It’s just a perfect little grind tune. Flipside, Dead Church match Suffering Mind’s intensity, chewing through “I Want Nothing” like Al Pacino with an electric scenery gnawing machine powered by cocaine and incinerated copies of Godfather Part 3. Normally, one song from a band is not worth the wax it occupies, but this split is definitely the exception.
Detroit have been on a roll recently and Reality Denied just keeps that trend trucking like one of the diesel huffing monstrosities churned out by their namesake city. The album may start with “False” but Detroit remains true: loose and spastic and flailing with the abandon of youth. Every song is hewed from the molds established by Napalm Death and Capitalist Casualties, but they’re played with an aplomb that keep that from being merely derivative. There’s a sincerity of focus that elevates them beyond their humble ambitions.
8. Rotten Sound
Species at War
Just when I’d accepted that Rotten Sound’s Murderworks/Exit days were behind them and they were in more of a fast crust punk mold, the Finns start banging out awesome EPs that capture the vibe of their earliest material. Species at War was another great short effort, a snarling little bugbear of bad attitude and unrelenting pessimism. Rotten Sound sound ripped to the gills on humanity’s self-inflicted bullshit and they’re ready to push the button to end it all. The apocalypse has never sounded so upbeat.
Cellgraft offshoot Sacridose sound like the former crossed up with a soupcon of Cloud Rat’s fast hardcore rampage. It’s a winning combination. Plus they cover Rudimentary Peni. Always a bonus. That aside, their original material is a shattered glass tornado of whirling aggression and vertiginous blasting twists. It’s lean and it’s mean and it’s got a hardcore soul that keeps it from being too easily tagged as Cellgraft resurgent.
6. Slavestate 641A
Grindcore Karaoke/Name Like His Master
This is not grind in the musical sense. It’s grind in the tectonic sense. It’s the slow motion smashing of giant plates of earth, buckling and crumbling under the pressure of uncompromising repetition. Born from Robocop, who helped lead the power violence resurgence, Slavestate 641A pull much the same trick on classic Godflesh and Swans, reinvigorating heavy as fuck slow motion misery that crawls along at a stumble step. It’s death by degrees and it’s demanding but the payoff is emotionally satisfying and enervating. It take it that’s how masochism is supposed to work.
Gowl raged right out of nowhere (i.e. Connecticut) in 2013, leaving a smoldering nuclear crater of irradiated awesomeness in their too brief wake. The onomatopoeitic Buzzbox lives up to its name with a snarling tiptoe through Backslider’s garden, which is planted high with amp buzz and clanking snare. It’s a glorious little cacophony that doesn’t offer too much in the way of originality, but it’s delivered with bravado and abandon. That’s really all I ask.
7 Degrees/Handshake Inc.
Wake have been churning out amazing records with such regularity now that it’s almost easy to take them for granted. False is another immaculate entry into their already enviable discography. Its chief success is corralling together another 11 songs that each have their own voice and personality and then having the confidence to let the songs breathe and stake out their own space. Wake haven’t stumbled yet so False makes me truly eager to hear what the Canadians churn out next.
King of Dirt
King of Dirt worships at the altar pure noise. Noisecore has a special place in my heart and Sick/Tired pluck at each and every string. It’s a chaotic blast of everything that makes grind great. Even the ending on the slow noise song cliché takes on a new vitality at their twisted behest. It’s noisy, angular and strikes with a concussive force. And I keep coming back for more. This is definitely one of my most listened albums in 2013 and it’s still a part of my regular musical rotation. Their follow up EP is just as badass.
2. Who’s My Savior
Wall of Sickness
Look, I’ve been raving about Who’s My Saviour for years now. I think Glasgow Smile is a certified fucking classic. So I don’t know how much more I need to say to them. Why aren’t you listening to this shit right this fucking minute? Because Wall of Sickness is another brilliant slice of twisted grind from the German trio, who refuse to be bound by grindcore convention but never leave their roots too far behind. Wall of Sickness is an amazing slow build EP that boasts some of Who’s My Saviour’s catchiest songs and these guys excel at writing a memorable grind hook.
IFB/Halo of Flies/React With Protest/7 Degrees
I called this one back in January. I stand by it 11 months later. Simply put, there has not been another album that comes close to Moksha’s transformative emotional experience this year. Cloud Rat sneak in His Hero is Gone melody and a Neil Young cover as part of the most unabashedly emotional and riveting album in recent memory. Moksha is harrowing in its honesty and plaintive in its frustrated sincerity. No matter how bleak life gets, Cloud Rat still strive for the light of hope. Madison absolutely brought it this album, screaming her soul out to make Moksha the standout musical experience that it is.