McNultyGrinder: Three Bands You Should Know
One Baltimore detective’s entry points into the genre.
When I started my foray into heavy metal (as a sophomore in high school), I was exposed to gateway bands like Soulfly, Nine Inch Nails, and Korn. Being born in the miserable year of 1981, I didn’t have the advantage of metal parents who listened to bands like Thin Lizzy or Rush. My folks had records of bands like The Eagles, Tom Petty, and Diana Ross (hold on a second, kick-ass!). No, I went from nu-metal -> industrial -> Meshuggah -> to death metal and beyond. But whilst investigating new music on the Internet, I realized that I couldn’t stand music from bands that everyone raves about. I just couldn’t get into grind mainstays like Napalm Death, Mumakil, or Wormrot. I recognized that there were three main hurdles that grind presented that I needed to enjoy the music: decent production, discernible riffs, and songwriting. Fortunately, I found what I needed from these three bands.
1. Production (Gridlink)
This band should be no surprise to any readers of the toilet; their swansong Longhena made many a TovH top 10 list of 2014. I have a Google+ friend in Australia who claims that this band ISN’T grindcore and for that I can’t fault him, because the lines are in a comfortably grey zone; but this is certainly grindcore. The songs are very short and the riffs don’t last more than a few seconds. In my buddy’s defense, the production is so sterile that you could eat sushi off of it… but does this negate its categorization as grindcore? Only Tyree from Scab can tell. But until somebody chimes in, I say YES it is superb grindcore as the razor-sharp riffs will slice a malandro’s neck clean-through like a knife through chicken McNuggets. Take for example one of their best songs (and believe me several songs matched this criteria):
2. Discernible riffs (Squash Bowels)
Though I know it’s not their first album, my initial exposure to this band was their stellar 2013 release Grindcoholism: an album that held my hand and helped me get into heavier stuff because of the clearly audible and discern-able guitar riffs. I want to make one point especially clear: grindcore is definitely a sub-genre of metal focused on guitar riffs, similar to thrash; but to the untrained ear it might come across as noise (as it did me in my early years). I feel it’s my duty to help those who cannot yet hear those riffs by highlighting a band that places great importance on them. Let’s also discuss a young McNulty’s concern of the lack guitar solos in grind, so here we highlight how Squash Bowels didn’t abide by this generality! Check out the title track of Grindcoholism here:
3. Songwriting (Absvrdist)
This band released my favorite grindcore album of all time with 2012’s Illusory. One visit to the band’s Encylopedia Metallum entry and you’ll find ex-members of bands such as The Faceless, Erzebet, Crumbling Mirth, and In Asunder.
Absvrdist makes a definite point in each song to tell a story; yet the album viewed as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Half of the songs exceed the two-minute mark, and in doing so they are allowed a marginally longer time to expand upon the ideas presented. Most grindcore bands will have a set goal in mind and achieve it in a time-frame between 10 and 90 seconds; but Absvrdist gives just enough time for each song to breathe, maybe introduce a bridge mid-way through but return to the initial riff for the final movement of the song. I chose to include the one-two punch of “Amongst Humans”, which starts out slowly and builds up to speed, followed by the breakneck title track “Illusory”. These songs serve as the ultimate example of quality musical composition contained within the album, as there’s a good variety of different riffs but each track is still a vessel of self-contained ideas.
I hope I’ve granted you a few entry points into one of the more difficult genres of heavy metal to absorb. Also please keep in mind these bands aren’t the only ones who meet the three qualifications I set forth, just great examples that worked for me. I want you to sound off in the comments section which bands eased you into Grindcore! Or if you’re cooler than me* just go ahead and let us know your favorite grind bands that you liked right off the bat.
*Odds are in favor that you are.