Bump’n’Grind – Constant Negative Sound Butcher
Dear PR agencies!
Save yourselves the time it takes to write that a grindcore band is for “fans of Napalm Death, Brutal Truth, and Nasum.” It’s unnecessary. Imagine describing a new condiment as “in the vein of ketchup, mustard, and relish.” What’s this new video game like? Oh, you know, Pong, Tetris, Super Mario, that sorta thing. You’re not telling me anything. No band can possibly sound as generic as you’re making them seem. It’s perfectly fine if you don’t have comparisons; just say it’s grindcore and leave it at that. I like grindcore. I will listen.
Anyway, check out me saying very little and making a bunch of unhelpful comparisons:
Systemik Viølence | Negative Mangel Attitude | June 30
These Portuguese crusties draw on their 7 years of experience to deliver a record that feels just right: just the right balance between sounding clean and dirty, just the right number of samples, just the right level of finesse in the songwriting to keep things from feeling stale, nicely counterpointing the eponymous violence with some sophistication, particularly in the longer tracks. While not exactly groundbreaking, it manages to feel fresh and engaging, and it’s a joy to hear a band dialed in so well.
Head Cleaner | The Extreme Sound of Truth | September 8
These poor guys are the reason for that intro paragraph, and I’ll be honest, seeing that cover art, I indeed thought I was in for some pretty nondescript grind. While the vocals do recall some classics of the genre, Head Cleaner doesn’t take long to show they have their own thing going on. Their sound has just the right amount of grit, and the onslaughts of blasting are accompanied by a pervasive dissonance in the riffing and will occasionally make room for some surprisingly nimble structures (“Bread and Circuses”).
Gendo Ikari | Rokubungi | September 1
Maybe Head Cleaner wasn’t dissonant enough for you. Maybe your normie friends weren’t turned off enough when you put on the latest Pupil Slicer the other day. Maybe reading epileptic seizure warnings always reminds you you should listen to Tulip or Freighter again. Much like those two, Gendo Ikari’s first full-length strikes a great balance between the erratic energy of mathcore and the brutal heaviness of more straightforward grind. A thoroughly unpleasant experience, yet one that feels good and true and right.
Constant Hell | Constant Hell | July 15
Let’s take a break from all that fanciness for a minute and get into one of the most low down and dirty records I’ve heard in a while. What stands out immediately is the peculiar guitar sound which, along with vocals that go beyond guttural and right into the lowest intestines, creates an indiscernible wall of noise during the fast parts. Hard as it is to figure out what’s going on, the “fuck everything” vibe it gives off is hugely cathartic. These grinding parts are broken up frequently by sludge and hardcore elements, making for abrupt tempo shifts akin to powerviolence. I shall dub the result “goreviolence” because a) we can always do with more stupid genre tags, and b) it just doesn’t quite sound like anything I’ve heard before.
Korroded | Rudiment Butcher | June 22
Mind you, when it’s the band themselves telling you they sound like Brutal Truth and Terrorizer, you can actually set some store by that. Indeed, Korroded’s brand of old school grind will warp you straight back to 1990 or thereabouts. The meaty guitar sound and the gruff, yet clear vocals point to the death metal and hardcore of the era, respectively. Dialing the musical tropes of both to 11, I don’t see how this record would not have fit seamlessly into the extreme metal landscape 30 years ago.
Lycanthrophy | On the Verge of Apocalypse | July 7
25 years, 2 full-lengths, about 30 split releases – a textbook grindcore career. Speaking of education, Lycanthrophy were a signpost during my early forays into the genre, playing what I came to consider archetypal grind that fit in snugly alongside discoveries like Insect Warfare, early Wormrot, and Suffering Mind. I was therefore happy to find that this unexpected second album hasn’t lost of the relentless speed and anger that is partially responsible for you reading these words today. It doesn’t hark back quite as far as Korroded, but it’s another timeless release that any fan of grind should appreciate.
Dark Tennis | Wimbledoom | July 3
After two more or less old school releases, I think it’s only fair that we end with a look at what grind can sound like in the present. Beaten to Death have long shown that grind does not need to eschew melody, and acts like Cloud Rat and Wormrot have increasingly begun to draw on broader emotional palettes such as those provided by blackened crust and screamo. Along with a wider range of musical influences comes more thematic breadth in the lyrics. An anti-fascist stance and an accusatory finger pointed in the direction of tools of oppression and the corrupt systems that wield them will never not be a core tenant of the genre. In recent years, however, it feels like the gaze is also turning inward to survey the effects of these systems on the psyche and the sense of despair brought on by them. Grind and other branches of extreme metal seem increasingly able to say, “I am not okay.”
If you value music as escapism, having it throw these realities back at you can be hard to bear, but if you can find solace in others feeling as crushed as you, the sonic landscape that Dark Tennis create on both their releases comes highly recommended. Shout out to Roldy for bringing them to my attention.
I tend to focus on bands I haven’t written about before, but I did want to at least mention two recent-ish quality releases from folks I’ve covered in the past:
Burner | It all Returns to Nothing | June 23
Nest of Scum | Brutes | July 14