There was never really a doubt in my mind regarding the number of releases in extreme music these days, but damn! The sheer number of kickass grindcore and other grind related projects lurking in the underground is something I did not anticipate. This second edition of the article kept getting delayed, not because I couldn’t find enough bands to write about. Quite the opposite really. Most of the delay was caused by me trying to figure out which bands to include and which ones to push for later editions.
So without further ado, here are 5 bands playing grind and other grind influenced styles of extreme music that I highly recommend you check out.
Piss Vortex (Grindcore, Denmark) – Future Cancer (Self Released)
The haunting, sludgy atmosphere and the continuous barrage of riffs in Default Face / Filtered Rot – the opening track, may lead one to believe that Denmark’s Piss Vortex is yet another traditional grindcore band, blasting away to their hearts content. But ‘Future Cancer’ is anything but a traditional grind records. A minute into the opener, it starts to become apparent that Piss Vortex have more than what initial impressions give away. The band plays around with the time signatures with an almost free jazz like fluidity, all the while retaining that pummeling intensity essential for a grind record.
While most grind bands tend to let everything loose at once, with no proper distinction between the various elements at play, Piss Vortex maintain a clear thread for each elements. The jazz like ingenuity in the drumming, the sharp riffs where the layering sometimes makes it feel like the sound of a million bees encircling one’s head, the fluidity in the bass lines all shine through in the mix. These little points of innovation come together to deliver an experience that is fresh, exhilarating and unabashedly heavy.
Piss Vortex feels like a band where a bunch of musicians playing jazz their whole life decided to one day wake up and play grindcore for a change. How else do you begin to explain the impromptu jam (done in a grindy way) towards the end of Bug Chaser, or the constant undercurrent of dissonance maintained throughout the record. But these guys also seem to know their grind, as clearly evidence by the vicious beatdown on Abyss. Special mention to Patterns of Recognition, the longest track on the record where the band explores a more atmospheric approach.
Clocking just under 12 minutes, ‘Future Cancer’ is a brilliant little EP that you can spin over and over till you take in every little detail in the music. This is a EP that deserves the re-play treatment because of how layered and well written the music by Piss Vortex is. The album is available for a “name your price” download on the band’s bandcamp page.
The Sound That Ends Creation (Experimental Death Metal / Grindcore, USA) – We are the Burden (Self Released)
One man experimental death metal / grindcore force The Sound that ends Creation (or TSTEC for the sake of brevity) is unlike most one man grindcore projects in existence today. Chris Dearing, (ex-Giant of the Mountain, Surgically Impaled) the sole member and brains behind TSTEC has a unique, twisted vision for the grindcore genre and he involves eclectic influences like mathcore, metalcore, experimental death and a bit of black metal. The resulting sound is equal parts brutal and technical, giving the album an extremely chaotic aura.
The riffs seem tend to jump all over the place, while managing to maintain a coherent flow at the same time. The odd time signatures are executed with surgical precision and the riffs feel like carefully planned strokes from a katana, aimed to cause maximum carnage. The influences in TSTEC’s music change multiple times through the course of one track, which is quite impressive considering the short nature of the tracks itself. The album stands out from other grind records in that it is in no hurry to get to the finish. Tracks like Cynical Dawn and Machinations of Progress are subjected to multiple tempo changes varying from slow doomy sections to raging bursts of speed. There are a lot of unconventional (for a grind album at least) elements that keep popping up on tracks like A Hollow Pine Box and The Open Eye which gives the album a certain unpredictability in terms of the musical direction.
It is quite easy to lose one’s vision and cohesion when writing an album that has such a high degree of eccentricity and chaos. In the case of TSTEC, the band manages to pull it off without losing focus on the flow. The band’s vision is very impressive and the way it is pulled off, makes it worth multiple listens.
Japanische Kampfhörspiele (Death Metal / Grindcore, Germany) – The Golden Anthropocene (Unundeux)
My foray into German grindcore has been limited mostly to Nunwhore Commando 666 and Cock & Ball Torture. So needless to say Japanische Kampfhörspiele came as a surprise when I stumbled across their latest full length release ‘The Golden Anthropocene’ on YouTube. Having been around since 1998, this band has been crafting their unique take on the grind genre which they have termed “popgrind”. As much as the term pop makes me cringe, this particular iteration feels like a breath of fresh air. It’s not difficult to understand why the band uses the above term, once the music starts.
Japanische Kampfhörspiele is a very avant-garde and a very German interpretation of grindcore. There are elements at play here like funk, German folk, a lot of death metal and an overall atmosphere that is energizing and dare I say, uplifting. This foray into avant-garde elements is significantly felt in the longer tracks like Weiss, Planeten Planieren and Weltorgasmus where the band bring in nontraditional elements like electronica and synth. The band also know how to get their grind on as evidenced by tracks like Absolution in Spe, Pimmel Kneten and Smart. These are short, rapid burst of energy that are undeniably grindcore. Even here the odd timed riffage and affinity to the infectious groove manages to set Japanische Kampfhörspiele apart from the rest.
The music here is much more accessible than your traditional grind band. While this may sound like a negative to many of the purists, the way the songs tend to stay with the listener, often due to their weird quirks and catchy writing, makes ‘The Golden Anthropocene’ a unique grind release that is loads of fun.
Unyielding Love (Black Metal / Grindcore / Noise, UK) – The Sweat of Augury (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)
With the black / grind crossover is starting to gain momentum (as evidenced by the standout records put out by bands like Dendritic Arbor and Vermin Womb in recent times), there are quite a lot of bands starting to follow a similar path. Take the case of Unyielding Love from Belfast, Northern Ireland for example. This four piece recently released their debut EP titled ‘The Sweat of Augury’ and this sounds like the bastard child of Discordance Axis like grind and the caustic mayhem of second wave black metal bands.
The tracks are drenched in feedback with a healthy amount of noise involved in the mix. Unyielding Love tend to deliver an equally balanced assault of short, grinding riffs and dense claustrophobia inducing atmosphere. These two come together in a hideous fashion (and I mean that in the best way possible) to create a monolithic wall of noise that feels like a musical interpretation of pure rage. The way the tracks like Fleeting Joy flow, balancing punchy riffs with moments of blackened noisy chaos, characterize most of the first half of the record. Things take a turn for the noisier during the second half of the record, which is signaled by the jarring noises heard on Die Hand Die Verletzt… Following this, Unyielding Love‘s music gets a bit more blackened, opting for an atmosphere of absolute chaos over the short grindy riffs, which continue to be peppered throughout.
The EP lasts a little under 20 minutes, with the last two tracks being the longest at just over 5 minutes. In this little time, Unyielding Love let loose tracks that are chaotic, mind shatteringly abrasive and absolutely enthralling. The pure undistilled hatred heard on these tracks is executed with such passion and conviction that one can’t help but resonate with the Unyielding Love’s rage.
Loath (Doom Metal / Grindcore / Crust Punk, Finland) – Altered States (Self Released)
While bands like Mistress, Green Carnation and Gaza have taken grind to sludgy depths, I hadn’t been aware of a doom metal / grindcore crossover. That is until I stumbled upon the Finnish band Loath, who recently released their second full length album ‘Altered States’. These guys have managed to take the essence of the aforementioned sludge / grind bands and add to it a doom metal like atmosphere and dread. And they do so in a very organic manner that even the frequent shifts in tempo seem natural.
When Loath grind, they have a crusty, almost Entombed-core feel to it with their buzzsaw riffs, as evidenced by the opener Ei Mikkan. From there, they bring in sludge metal grooves before grinding it down to an atmosphere doom section where the bass is left to carry the narration on Capital Dementia. The vocals are more death metal leaning with the throaty growls and angry barks, but it carries a maniacal tone to it. This is exactly what the sinister atmosphere of the album warrants.
The way Loath combine caveman like savagery with deeper introspective segments can be described with this analogy. Imagine a deranged psychopath who is unleashing every inch of his anger on you. He suddenly stops to have an inner monologue with the voices in his head, before resuming to beat you down again. That is the image tracks like Chronic Paranoid Delusions conjures up.
Even when the band heads into complete doom territory on tracks like Totaalinen Rauha and Caput Mortuum, Loath’s rage is never dialed down. These guys offer blunt force trauma both sonically and psychologically. ‘Altered States’ is dark and savage experience where Loath use pummeling riffs and dense atmospheres to explore the deepest corners of your psyche.