Grindcore is a very extreme and noisy form of heavy metal/hardcore. It is defined as having even more speed than the powerviolence subgenre of hardcore, the down tuned and distorted guitars of death metal, songs that are very short in length (some only a few seconds long), blast beats, and vocal growls and shrieks that are even more intense than those in death and black metal. The lyrical subjects are also a mix. They range from the sociopolitical lyrics of hardcore to the horror filled subjects of death metal. Many bands, like A.C., also focus on dark humor and trying to push people’s buttons by making songs about controversial subject matter.
Grindcore came about in the early 1980’s in the United States. Much like in the early days of rap music, the scene relied heavily on tape trading. There are two bands that are recognized as the godfathers of grindcore, the hardcore band Siege and the death metal band Repulsion. Both bands cited really fast hardcore and thrash metal as major influences. They wanted to outdo the fastest thrash and hardcore bands around in order to create the fastest form of music possible. Unfortunately (or fortunately however you choose to look at it) the speed that they played with would only allow for short song durations and unintelligible singing.
Essential Grindcore Albums:
- Scum (Napalm Death)
- Horrified (Repulsion)
- Prowler in the Yard (Pig Destroyer)
- Reek of Putrefaction (Carcass)
- Die Miserable (Fuck the Facts)
- I Like it When You Die (A.C.)
- World Downfall (Terrorizer)
- Monolith of Inhumanity (Cattle Decapitation)
- Dead Mountain Mouth (Genghis Tron)
- Egoleech (Cock and Ball Torture)
- From Enslavement to Obliteration (Napalm Death)
- Sounds of the Animal Kingdom (Brutal Truth)
- Book Burner (Pig Destroyer)
Grindcore rose to prominence in England in the mid 1980’s with the emergence of Napalm Death. Napalm Death was the first semi-commercially successful grindcore band and it led to the rise of other somewhat successful bands, like Carcass. After the increase in popularity of grindcore, Napalm Death, Carcass, and other founders of the grindcore sound began to experiment with other elements of extreme metal. They felt that so many bands had now popped up that everyone was stealing ideas and content from everyone else and due to that the subgenre felt very watered down.
Grindcore would once again rise in the United States in the 1990’s with groups like A.C., Terrorizer, and Pig Destroyer expanding on the idea of grindcore by adding in more elements of death metal, thrash, sludge metal, ambient music, sex and comedy. This experimentation led to the creation of a few new subgenres of grindcore that are popular amongst genre fans today. Grindcore has never managed to really breakthrough to the mainstream, but it did create a niche that continues to have one of the most loyal fan bases of any of the subgenres of heavy music.
Goregrind is grindcore with lyrics relating to gore and forensics instead of sociopolitical subject matter. It also uses a lot of pitch shifting and unintelligible low death growls with no high-pitched shrieks. Carcass was the band that pioneered this sound and the lyrical content. They felt that many grindcore bands were taking themselves too seriously and were continually repeating the same left wing political opinions in their lyrics. This came as a very needed change at the time, as grindcore was losing popularity. The gorey subject matter really meshed well with the brutal pace of the music.
Deathgrind was birthed in the 1990’s. It combines the technical elements of death metal with the break neck speed and abrupt songs of Grindcore. Due to the death metal influence, the musicianship of deathgrind tends to be a lot better than traditional grindcore. Current deathgrind bands include Cattle Decapitation, Aborted, and The Red Chord.
Much like goregrind, pornogrind was created as a response to those that had watered down the grindcore scene with similar political themes and sounds. The lyrical content instead deals with extremely perverted sexual subjects, which helps to bring the extreme elements of grindcore back that were lost in the over-saturation in the late 1980’s. The most poplular pornogrind band is Cock and Ball Torture.
In the 1990’s Napalm Death began to experiment with industrial sounds due to being disenfranchised with too many grindcore bands that sounded the same. The sound would mix the speed of grindcore with synthesisers and digital elements. This led to the creation of electrogrind in the early 2000’s by bands like Genghis Tron.