My taste in extreme music goes through a lot of different phases, often zeroing in on niche styles for extended periods of time. But if there is one style that stays with me longer than the rest, it is grindcore. It’s sort of ironic that I spend the most time with a genre that is known for its extremely short bursts of intensity. While on paper, grindcore may seem like a one trick pony, in reality it is one of the most malleable forms of extreme music. And over time, bands have adopted this flexible nature of grindcore to infuse it with different styles across the heavy metal spectrum.
While the usual, pedal to the metal, face melting grindcore is always fun, it’s often those bands that infuse grind with other styles that tend to push the boundaries of the sub-genre. The Grindhouse Chronicles is an attempt to document and expose the readers to some of the newer bands under the grindcore banner that are striving to expand the horizons of the style through their unique takes . So here are three bands that do a good job in whetting my grind appetite.
Also, please feel free to hit me up in the comment section about bands that you think should be featured here.
Pink Mass (Blackened Grindcore / Crust) – Slvt Kvlt (Independent)
Book-ended by weird, gothic sounding synths, Pink Mass’s debut full length ‘Slvt Kvlt’ takes black metal / punk rock hybrid to a whole new level. The grinding guitars that roar out at the start of Diseased Minds indicate that these guys are not messing around. In fact, these guys take their sleazy grinding seriously. Pink Mass’s affinity towards bdsm is well reflected in the band’s black crust meets grind style. With emphasis on the grindcore side of things, there is quite a bit of black metal influence creeping into the music and this is reflected well on tracks like Summoning the Grotesque and Putrid Prophet. With three of the five members contributing to vocals, the shrieks tend to be chaotic and wild. The tempo stays high for most part of the record as the band unleashes short, sharp riffs in succession and on tracks like Leather Studs Whips Scars,the band settles into pummeling grooves.
From the outside, Pink Mass might seem like just another perverted bunch with misogynistic views. But the actual lyrics on the record deal with issues of sexual freedom, which is not how brutal death and grind bands usually operate. And this message, they deliver in the form a sonic assault that does not ease up even for a few seconds. It’s a stretch to call ‘Slvt Kvlt’ a full length as it barely crosses the 15 minute mark, but the material here is so addictive that listeners will end up playing it on repeat anyways. This form of blackened grindcore manages to bring together best of both styles, in the vein of bands like Shitfucker and Naked Whipper, albeit with slightly better production values and better lead guitar adventurism.
Potato Hate Explosion (Cybergrind / Nintendocore) – Overheated (Independent)
In all the ways that grindcore has branched out over the years, one that sticks out in particular is cybergrind / nintendocore. Anyone who’s been digging through bandcamp for new grindcore bands might be aware of the sheer amount of underground cybergrind bands floating around out there. For those who have no clue as to what I’m talking about, cybergrind is a weird offshoot of grindcore that incorporates midi tones and electronic / industrial soundscapes, often in a very tongue in cheek fashion. The reason this style tends to get overlooked by a lot of the grindcore purists is because most bands here tend to go for style over substance, i.e, over abundance of electronic wizardry over raw, visceral grindcore. Potato Hate Explosion is one of the few bands that get it right.
This band’s latest output, titled ‘Overheated’ kicks off with the sludgy, grinding riffs of the title track indicating that this is foremost a grind album before anything else. Throughout the album, there are enough raw grind moments to satisfy even the purists, making this a good stepping point into cybergrind. The experimental part of Potato Hate Explosion adds to the variety and in no way comes as a detriment to the raw feel of the record. The album tends to get progressively experimental through the course of the tracks, with the second half of the album sounding more eclectic that the first. The quick breakdowns strewn across the album remain engaging throughout, with the zany midi instrumentation making it all the more intriguing. If you’ve ever wondered about what cybergrind / nintendocore is, I urge you to check out ‘Overheated’.
Musket Hawk (Sludge Metal / Grindcore) – Desolate (Unholy Anarchy Records)
The power trio Musket Hawk was brought to my attention by my fellow scribe Chris Dahlberg’s coverage of local bands from Baltimore. The band’s second full length ‘Desolate’ offers some gnarly, grimy sludge grind. Think Mistress with a lot more devastating grooves. The thick guitar tone and thumping bass tone feel like slabs of concrete being launched directly into the listener’s chest. The band makes good use of this with their drawn out groove runs like heard on Jeweler. The band also packs quite a vicious bite in it’s more uptempo, grindcore parts.
The music can be summed up as having an acid trip in the middle of a crime scene strewn with bodies. Sure, it’s grimy and disgusting, but it’s all so mesmerizing. Musket Hawk go as far as including fleeting moments of clean strings to trap the listener in a trance. For a power trio, the band sounds incredibly heavy and the drums in particular stand out with the oddly timed fills. The tormented screams of the vocals sits perfectly within the grinding riffs. The band’s style is a wonderful amalgam borrowing equally from the likes of hardcore punk, sludge metal and grindcore, presented in a way that it’s hard to tell where one style starts and another style ends. ‘Desolate’ is already turning to be one of my most listened to albums this year and Musket Hawk should be present on more people’s radar for the potential they show on this record.