Friday, January 13, 2017

Top Five Grindcore albums of 2016:

Grindcore - and all it's offspring and brood - has a very special place in my heart (here's my other page dedicated to it: ) I listen to "heavier" music primarily as a catharsis. The visceral purging of emotion takes priority over how complex or creative a riff has to be to play, this music delivers said purging in jaded spades. Though many top-tier Grind bands flourish at both aspects, like any genre there are thousands of worse-than-mediocre bands trying to do it or utilizing the extremity of the sound as a bad joke, thusly overshadowing truly fantastic bands who dedicate their livelihood to a musical niche' that will never be successful nor catapult them to any sort of sterilized albeit prosperous and rewarding spotlight. It's truly a labor of love, and one that has negatively changed my opinion about a lot of the other genres of Heavy Metal out there, I mean - by comparison, aren't bands like Anthrax, Lamb Of God, Fear Factory, Pantera, Sepultura, etc. just distorted, downtuned, pop-music with strained vocals?  All traditionally structured with choruses and pre-choruses, guitar solos, intros and outros, that post second chorus breakdown - never giving in to the frenzy and always keeping that snappy little groove for you to bop your head to? Not to say that it's bad, it's just - predictable... So, now that I've pissed you off:

5. Venomous Concept - Kick Me Silly - VC III

I've often theorized and bullshitted about just how much I believe Grindcore is truly the not-so-new Punk music - extreme demands require extreme responses, and with internet and media outlets precipitating a systematic anesthetization to all things violent and depraved, we need a genre that martyrs it's very being as music by succumbing to it's own frenzied passion. While most Grindcore bands syncopate punk rhythms around the prioritized blast beats, Venomous Concept flips that equation, coming across more as a modern day punk band that occasionally leans on the very essence of it's members' collective roots in the Grindcore genre to punctuate it's sound. It works as both an anti-numbing agent to the beat down, as well as a possible gateway for those on the edge of the Punk tier who may in fact be intimidated by something even more extreme than that with which they are passionate about.

On Kick Me Silly - VC III the "supergroup" sounds like the perfect amalgam of it's parts. Herrera, Embury and Cooke (who has been playing live with ND for the past two years in Harris' unexplained absence) bring the latter day Napalm Death sound while the now defunct Brutal Truth-half utilize Lilker's feral bass and Sharp's incomparably recognizable roar to round out the band's d-beat focused punk fueled attack. While I'd still love to hear this troop get as batshit as they possibly can, it's the restrained doses of the full possibility of VC's frenzied vitriol that keep this thing coiled and popping from start to finish.


4. Wake - Sowing The Seeds Of A Worthless Tomorrow


On Sowing The Seeds Of A Worthless Tomorrow Wake don't give a hoot about dynamics, the stop and go strike, or anything that constitutes a casual listener's grasp of rhythm. It's all one constant, blasting dirge into dark hopelessness. The sound here throughout these eight tracks feels almost hypnotically monochromatic, which only adds to the feeling of being piled onto. It's as if somebody nasally force-fed Gaza with a half-ton of PCP (referencing one limited exposure band with another - nice). The infrequent lighter chords that are struck throughout the belligerent stampeding of blasts that provide a limited bubble for which to gasp for air in add such a depth to the music without sacrificing any of it's claustrophobic characteristics. One second longer and it would have felt like too much, one second shorter wouldn't have been enough - this tester of souls is just right.


3. Wormrot - Voices


It took two full lengths and an EP for Wormrot to really turn my ear. With time and exposure I've gained an appreciation for the raw straightforwardness of their delivery, and though that is an easy quality for to which find yourself blending in with the rest, Wormrot continue to surprise me with sporadic surges of brief experimentation in their sound. Their influences can be easily identified, but the fact that there are so many songs on Voices that dedicate their entire being to said influences and in turn different aspects of the genre, stepping away from the finality of the record deposes a dynamic and versatility in writing that really makes Voices a fun experience. The production is the best they've had yet, and I think that's a big cog to really making each instrument stand out on it's own here, giving it a very organic, plug-in-and-play feel without sounding too raw or muddled. I always thought the hype of Wormrot in the scene was focused on the wrong things, more the geographical origin of the band than anything else - the Noise EP made my dumb ass pay closer attention, but Voices has me proclaiming that the threat is real.


2. Nails - You Will Never Be One Of Us


Nails continue to astonish me in how they can produce music so tonally fucking heavy that moves so incredibly fast, I think Kurt Ballou may have had something to do with it. You Will Never Be One Of Us is a fitting third offering from the band, upping their own game in fact. Careening consciousness with sledgehammering power-violence and dizzying, Venturi-effect like blasts that succumb only to thick, slabs of crawling rhythms where strategically appropriate. Considering they're wisely sticking to the short-but-sweet M.O. of final running times under roughly 12 - 13 minutes (contractual obligations be damned), you'd think that those aforementioned qualities would make You Will Never Be One Of Us a forced, possibly contrived, convoluted mess. Instead however, the bombardments of sound are so well composed that the songs in fact seem longer than they are, and gratifyingly complete. Even the eight minute-plus closer doesn't feel out of place. Oh, and it's catchy as hell too!


1. Gendo Ikari - Unit 1


What the? Who the? Huh? Yes, I stumbled onto these guys whilst prowling the seedy underbelly of Bandcamp some time in early October, and in the time since - to my delight (thru no influence of my own) - have seen other blogs and social media sites begin to sing their praises. Hailing from Glasgow, UK, Gendo Ikari's 7-track debut does everything right for me. It's got the jagged, unpredictable blasting that isn't too above itself to break into wonderfully brief, groovy strides - all along maintaining a singular aural onslaught. The tones are sharp but still weighty, with a shitload of jarring, sudden brake application before projectile-like surges of straight up Grind come violently tumbling forth. It's awesome, and maybe it's because they seem so off the radar right now, or the production standard comes across as somewhat DIY (I do wish it was louder), but there is an antagonistic virulence driving behind it that feels just slightly more palpable and genuine than most right now to me, and I just can't ignore that. They ain't the first to do it, and admittedly it's not breaking any new ground, but Gendo Ikari have taken almost all of my favorite aspects of the genre and managed to put them together comprehensively into a short and caustic exhibition of appreciation for the fundamentals of the millennium's new wave of Grindcore.


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