Grindcore, probably the most unpalatable sub-genre in heavy metal, had to start somewhere and while scene legends Napalm Death, Brutal Truth, Nasum, Pig Destroyer etc may have gained grindcore its notoriety over the years, it’s the roots of grindcore and those original pioneering albums that defined the genre that are primarily under examination here!
Siege – Drop Dead (1984) [USA]
The building blocks of grindcore can be found on Siege’s one and only release and it would be criminal to ignore their monumental influence on a genre that, in 1984, was still to be named. Somehow predicting the grindcore and death metal craze which would engulf the globe later in the decade, Siege were beyond influential and, typically, universally ignored.
Crust punk / d-beat nastiness this raw and this dirty wasn’t unheard of – Discharge’s seminal Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing released 2 years prior had hinted at the aural assault to come – but Siege were next level noise and it proved too much for many. Napalm Death’s youthful members were blatantly paying attention though and they patiently waited in the wings, preparing themselves to take Siege’s sound forward as the decade progressed.
The power and violence displayed on Drop Dead was, and still is, utterly mesmerising and anyone with even a passing interest in grindcore and its origins should consider Drop Dead utterly essential!
Lärm – Straight on View (1986) [Netherlands]
Home to thirty six songs of raging hardcore / grindcore, Lärm‘s debut full length was tuneless, antagonistic and politically charged….which is exactly what you’d expect from such glorious noise as this!
With a straight edge philosophy and a relatively lighthearted approach to their sonic onslaught, Lärm‘s overall charm was their gung-ho approach to playing loud and fast. Very fuckin’ fast. Attacking their instruments with an unparalleled intensity, Straight On View sped by in a blitzkrieg of spit, bile and snarling, thrashing rage and its intensity has not diminished in the intervening years.
While not 100% grindcore per se, Straight On View was definitely 100% instrumental in helping grindcore become a dominant force as the 80’s drew on!
Napalm Death – Scum (1987) [UK]
We experienced Napalm Death‘s Scum way after its initial release. Don’t blame us, we were born too late. However, just trying to imagine the reaction to first hearing this beast back in 1987 conjures images of abstract terror and confusion.
Scum wasn’t metal. It was something else entirely. It made thrash sound like a kids nursery rhyme and brazenly took a piss in the mouth of what was considered ‘heavy’ metal at the time. Raw and rancorous, Scum was the sound of urban squalor and despair and, in 1987, was the absolute antithesis of the comparatively trite shite being peddled by Mötley Crüe (Girls, Girls, Girls), Def Leppard (Hysteria) and Kiss (Crazy Nights) etc.
Despite having a budget of thruppence, Napalm Death conveyed all they needed to convey in just 28 furiously political tracks shoehorned into a mere 33 caustic minutes. In that short time Napalm Death set the bar for what extremity could achieve.
The first true grindcore album had arrvied!
Sore Throat – Death To Capitalist Hardcore [EP] (1987) [UK]
Admittedly, Death To Capitalist Hardcore is an EP not an album but its 45 tracks of one minute blasts of raw noise was a major influence on grindcore and warrants inclusion here.
Track 2, “Utterly Tuneless”, pretty much sums up the blastbeat chaos and growling and while the guitar tone is satisfyingly thick throughout, it’s the utterly inept drumming that lives up to the tuneless moniker. Grindcore’s penchant for songs of one minute, or less, began with Napalm Death but to construct a whole album round these micro-blasts is all the fault of Sore Throat!
Absolute noise designed to piss off absolutely everybody, Death To Capitalist Hardcore is a whirlwind of humming, droning feedback and guttural barks and its minimalist approach and couldn’t-give-a-toss attitude was revolutionary. Modern grindcore gods Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Rotten Sound were sure as hell soaking it up, that’s for damn sure!
Carcass – Reek of Putrefaction (1988) [UK]
From Napalm Death to Carcass; could Bill Steer be the one musician who made the most important contribution to grindcore and UK extreme metal in the late 80’s? Arguably so, as it was his lead guitar work on Reek Of Putrefaction and From Enslavement To Obliteration that enabled grindcore to take massive strides forward, with his pioneering work heavily influencing the hordes of grindcore and death metal bands that followed.
With the filthiest sound ever recorded accompanying some of the most grotesque lyrics ever uttered, Reek Of Putrefaction is a grindcore classic. Generally frightening, Carcass were not fucking around on their ferocious debut and this is a band far removed from the melodic death metal titans they would become.
Reek Of Putrefaction is no where near the complete grindcore album, with its incomprehensibly muddied production stifling the bands obvious talents, but it is a vitally important stepping stone in grindcore’s evolution.
Also Essential: Symphonies Of Sickness (1989)