Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Grindcore for Dummies

Extreme metal demands extreme marketing.
As sub-sub-sub genres like folk-inflected post-death blackened NeurIsis-core further slice and dice the metal audience into niche-ier and niche-ier niches, bands have to work harder and harder to woo their target demographic. And clearly they don’t think we’re bright enough to read the giant hype sticker on the front of their album proclaiming them the grindiest grind that ever ground because a number of them go to absurd lengths to remind us they play grindcore.
Absurd lengths like…



Magrudergrind play grind and they’re from the Magruder neighborhood near D.C. You see where this is going? That’s like me naming my this place Suburban Townhouse Grindcore Blog, the only name possibly worse than the one I already chose. But if you write grind tunes as catchy as Magrudergrind, you may want to make it as obvious as possible to their target demographic that they’re not banging out Maroon 5 covers at their high school dance.

While few bands have gone to the length of shoving grind into their name, more than a few have oh so subtly reminded you of the blastbeaten proclivities in their album titles.

Grind Finale


More than any other band, Nasum have earned the right to proclaim their grindcore bonafides via album title with an unparalleled track record of essential albums. I’ve previously sung the praises of this immaculate tribute to the late Mieszko Talarczyk, which collects everything that didn’t end up on their four Relapse albums. This is grind incarnate and the finale of an unsurpassed career. They get a pass. But statistically speaking, your band is probably not Nasum (the numbers are not gonna lie there; don't argue with numbers). So that means you should probably avoid that level of obviousness. You haven't earned it.


How obvious can you get, you ask. Astute question, young grasshopper.
Spain’s Denak are as about as blatant as you can get, simply naming their retrospective collection Grindcore. Try to picture how that in-band conversation may have gone:
What should we name our album?
I dunno. How about grindcore?
Glad that's settled. Who's up for some tapas?
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand ... Scene.
Band members would develop more tact when they went on to form Looking for an Answer, but Denak was brash enough to stake their claim to the genre as a whole. They were talented enough to back it up as well. See the Nasum rule above. You are not Denak. Do not do this.

HG Fact

How do you rebel against grind? If 324 are to be believed, it includes copious amounts of crust and a few gang choruses. 324 doubled down on the grind proclamations with 2006’s Rebelgrind, announcing their intentions not only through the title but also in the CD tray, which anoints their music “Grind Babylon/Babylon Grind.” Yeah. I have no clue what the fuck that means either. But it's Japanese, so I'm just gonna assume it's awesome and involves tentacle rape. But perhaps the whole “rebel” shtick was a defensive move because 324 knew how polarizing this album would be.

Unholy Grave
Grind Killers



Japanese antiterrorism freaks Unholy Grave put a hit out on grindcore with 2010 live in the studio album Grind Killers. Dear Unholy Grave, this is an intervention. After 18 years and a metric butt ton of splits, we know you play grindcore. And if we didn't, I'm pretty sure we could have intuited that fact based on Unholy Grind Destruction, Grind Freaks, Grind Victim, Angry Raw Grinder, Raw Grind Mayhem, Grinding Hell Slaughter, Grind Heads, Grind Eternal, Grindholic, Grindignation, The Grind Militia, Immortal Grind Legion, Grind Hell and Grind Blitz.
We get it. Now please stop.

Putting the grind in your band name or album title will certainly grab the eyeballs, but some people just don’t want to be that gauche. Album art provides another excellent outlet to proclaim your grind fidelity.

Loony Planet/Industreality
Sound Pollution


I randomly bought Cyness’ debut album during a going out of business sale at Tower Records. For you whippernsappers out there a “Tower” was one of many physical places called a “store” that sold “records” in an era before you could simply download it. Now get the hell of my lawn.
Why did I grab this, having previously never heard of the German band? Well that gigantic “grindcore” spooning underneath their logo on the album cover was pretty much all the enticement I needed. Well played, gentlemen.

Bear in mind this is not a foolproof system. For every band jumping up and down on a street corner shouting “GRINDCORE” into a day-glo green megaphone, you’ve also got to keep an eye out for moments of pareidolia. Moments like…

Scrotum Grinder
Greatest Sonic Abomination Ever


Scrotum Grinder sounds like the kind of name you’d pick for your high school Carcass cover band. And when you hear the Floridians feature Steve Kosiba, bassist on Assuck’s Misery Index, visions of blast beats should start dancing in your bewildered little heads. Actually, this chick fronted band surfed the final wave of southern crust punk, drawing more inspiration for Antischism than Anal Cunt. While still an enjoyable listen (and despite a fixation on Ronald Reagan 13 years after he left office) the down tempo chug-a-lug shoutalong may not satisfy your bpm jones. And album title to the contrary, it is not the worst sonic abomination ever. I've heard Pat Boone's metal album.

AfgrundLinkVid Helvetets Grindar

Also beware the illusory false cognates. Sure Afgrund sounds like it should be some sort of past participle tribute to their grinding awesomeness (think something like Metallica, but hopefully not pissing off Hitler). But the name actually means Abyss in Swedish (please tell me they're recording their next album at Peter Tagtgren's studio). Afgrund set you up for a double dose of misconception here because their second album, Vid Helvetets Grindar, sounds like it's out to pimp grind like Unholy Grave. Nope, foiled again. Run through an internet translator, I’m told Vid Helvetets Grindar has nothing to do with hellaciously awesome grind. Instead, it means something close to “At Hell’s Gates.” Still perfectly metal, just not as grindcentric as an amateur translator may assume on first glance


DRJones said...

squash bowels - grindvirus
insane assholes - grindzilla
rotten sound - from crust til grind

and the list goes on. don't get us started on splits...

Alex Layzell said...

This is such a frustrating trend that grind bands must define themselves verbally. Beyond Nasum's acceptable name I also quite like Agathocles' Grind is Protest, however additional offenders include
Psycho - The Grind Years
VA - Falafel Grind
HeWhoCorrupts - Murderous Grind Concept
Anarchus - Grinding Syndicate

Bill Willingham IV, Esquire said...

How about that Japanese band Gods of Grind? That one always cracks me up.

gamefaced said...

i always thought it was a prerequisite of any fan of grindcore to be a fan of shitty wordplay. you know like facepaint and blackmetal somethings just go together.

Andrew Childers said...

oh man. how did i forget gods of grind? it takes real balls to be an obscure japanese band and pick that as your name.

gamefaced: i'm all for word play. good word play. that's why i didn't pick on "grindcore ninja commando team." because it's just creatively retarded enough to get a pass. most of this stuff is just regular old retarded. "derp. we play grind. derp."