Chainsaw Justice Vol. I -Olde Timey Grindcore
I started in 84, I think the latest I’ve gone is 1990. This was actually really fun to undertake, especially listening to laughable junk that for some reason I actually liked (Deadlock’s one of them). So brace yourself, I’ve chosen to include a lot of demo material from bands and I hope I show you something new. It’s no surprise this is mostly US/UK based(although Japan has quite a presence).
It seems the 1987 becomes the focus of this list.1987’s an obvious choice, ENT’s Peel Sessions, Napalm Death’s Scum, S.O.B’s Leave me Alone, Sore Throat’s Death to Capitalist Hardcore, Carcass’s Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment and numerous demos. I’d like to say Genocide’s (Repulsion’s) 2nd demo, Violent Death exemplifies the first instance of grindcore as we know it (I haven’t heard pre Scum Napalm Death, but I’ve heard it’s not really like Scum) and that was 1985. The playlist I’ve given is in a rough chronological order (I’ve only paid attention to year). Beyond that I hope you all enjoy.
Interestingly enough, going by Metal Archives (a site which claims to carry only metal, so bands like Sore Throat and Siege aren’t present) shows that in 1984 there was only one release dubbed as grindcore, Genocide’s Toxic Metal demo. Another issue that arises with this method is that bands that might have developed into a grindcore band, or shifted styles are still listed; even if they were a Christian rock band in 85, but did grindcore in 96, so take that into account as well. In 1985 we see 8 releases, only 1 of which is a full length (Rose Rose’s Emotional Disturbance which is really a hardcore punk release). 1986 we see 18 releases, 1987: 29, 1988: 42, 1989: 69, and 1990 there’s 114. For perspective’s sake in 1995 there’s only 212 releases that year and at 2000 there are 358. Unfortunately this leaves out a lot of the power violence/fastcore bands of the 90’s which might have been considered grindcore or whatever. And at 2009 we had 606 releases (8 of which belong to Agathocles alone!). It’s been an odd 20 whatever years for grindcore, for such a short passionate and burning style you’d think the adage “the flame that burns twice as bright lasts half as long” would stand true here, but with technology and the dedicated fanbase grindcore seems to be a staple in the extreme music world.
Here's the play list and quick rundown of each band.
1. "Cold War" - Siege - Drop Dead - 1984
Classic as classic gets in the world of punk and grindcore. Cited by all the big names as their influence, Dropdead stands to be one of the most important (and also great) releases of the extreme music world. Miles ahead of other hardcore acts at the time, Drop Dead was the fastest and harshest thing around.
2. "Horrified" - Genocide Violent Death - 1985
Repulsion before they were Repulsion. Everyone should know the name of the song as it's the title of one of the most important and best grindcore records ever. Don't just take my word for it. I'd say this is the first real example of grindcore. Blast beats juxtaposed with punk beats, so it's not just a crust beat. The riffing's total grindcore- simple sped up thrash riff, that distorted bass tone and Scott Carlson's half hardcore half prototypical death metal vocals.
3. "Evil Mayhemic" - Deadlock -Deadly Intention demo 1986
4. "Knock Out" - S.O.B - Leave me Alone - 1986
Another Siege like band. Obscure in America, (and the west for the most part) yet extremely influential in the development of grindcore and hardcore. Next to GISM, S.O.B's one of Japan's most important bands in the extreme music scene. Quite big now, but at the time they were only known to the underground and gained exposure due to Napalm Death and eventually a session with John Peel. From their first release, "Knock Out" is blistering hardcore, but if it had been produced heavier could easily pass as grindcore; chosen for it's bridging quality.
5. "Never Healed" - Heresy - Never Healed Flexi - 1986
Never Healed shows the pioneering style of hardcore that's just about grindcore. Searing blast beats, quick shouted vocals, and hardcore riffs sped up as fast as they'll go; I picked it just for this reason, to show the bridge between hardcore and grindcore.
6. "Divine Death" - Napalm Death - Scum - 1987
I don't need to say anything about this except maybe my reason for picking it. I've picked it 1. because the B side of Scum has them playing in a metal tunning, showcasing a real shift from punk to metal and 2. The structure is quintessential early grindcore, not abusing the blast beat and trying to figure out how to make the song last longer than a minute and 3. the shrieked vocals and deep growls are exemplary of metal, where as the grunts are more hardcore.
7. "Carry On Screaming" - Extreme Noise Terror - Peel Sessions - 1987
Like Napalm Death, I shouldn't have to say much about the band's significance. This song shows an anomaly of ENT's style as they use a sustained blast beat and move away from their typical d-beats of the time, yet the guitars are playing a typical punk riff.
8. "Psychopathologist" - Carcass - Fleshripping Sonic Torment - 1987
Pretty much the cue for gore-grind, Fleshripping Sonic Torment was eventually reworked into their first album. Downtuned and messy guitars, blast beats galore, demoinc echoing vocals- a huge jump from punk.
9. "Implosion" - Regurgitation - Bathroom's Rule - 1987
Later known as O.L.D, Regurgitation showcase an actually well recorded demo that shows few traces of punk. Heavy sounding, lots of reverb, a very metal solo and the vocals show this, along with Carcass, as the formation of a more death metal influenced grind. The riff around the end shows this for sure. This demo's surprisingly good.
10. "Benedictions" - Terrorizer - Nightmares - 1987
Interesting mix of punk riffs and drum beats which jump to really metal riffs. Feels a lot like a proto-death metal band, who is jsut playing thrash, but added blastbeats making it more grinding. Bad, but listenable production. The basslines are as thrash as thrash gets. The guitar tone and song structure really solidify this as metal, bending the punkness of grindcore to their standards.
11. "Vac Head" - Sore Throat - Death To Capitalist Grindcore (Bootleg, but same material) -1987
A lot more innovtive then I think they ever intended to be, Sore Throat begins the trend of lots of short songs, often a simple measure. Along with structure, the hypercritical and "fuck you" attitude, not to mention the humor of the band would be seen in countless bands after, both grindcore and hardcore (Insect Warfare's S/T, The Locust, Agorophobic Nosebleed,etc). The noisey sections of feedback, clips, and random sections seem to be the root of "noisecore" bands of the present.
12. "The Day Of Doom" - Deathpeed - Possessed By Speed Demo - 1988
Another Japanese act, Deathpeed was a short lived project of now Unholy Grave singer. I actually love everything I've found by the band. Songs tend to be long (this one's 5 minutes) and are written in a very modern kind of way. The thrashy/d-beat beginning which jumps to a very metal blast beat and guitar solo. The riffing throughout jumps from hardcore to a very contemporary death metal style. It's really interesting. I like it more then the 3 Unholy Grave releases I've heard. Reminds me of modern day Effigy, I don't think it's just because they're both Japanese.
13. "Born Backwards" - Assuck - Born Backwards - 1988
Assuck's one of the greatest metal bands ever. Okay, that aside, this demo isn't that good. The production's atrocious which pretty much hampers every other aspect. Beyond that this is totally metal, just faster death metal. Interesting to see Assuck like this.
14. "The Colour of Blood" - Nuclear Death - Bride of Insect - 1990
Really great track, totally grindcore with a very thrashy vibe. The vocals remind me a lot Vio-Lence and Dark Angel (in fact the main riff sounds like "The Burning of Sodom" off Darkness Descends). I think there's a cult following of this band, but it'd seem as they're largely forgotten.
Apparently berevity isn't my strong point, but I'll spare you for Vol. II.