Bringing together ex-members of Strike Offensive and Victorian Whore Dogs, UK crust punk/hardcore band Negative Thought Process are an angry bunch. ‘Hell Is…Much Better Than This’ finds the trio absolutely raging through a half dozen tracks in under ten minutes, but also stretching out musically a little further than you’d expect from a band so heavily influenced by grind/crust sounds. It’s all relative, of course, as its difficult to stretch too far when you’ve set boundaries that dictate that nothing should exceed two minutes, but NTP often sound so much more interesting than a lot of similar bands.
Alpha-O-Maga are an interesting proposition. They promote themselves first and foremost as a grindcore band, yet chunks of their 2020 release ‘Make America Grind’ again feature sounds that would almost certainly upset the grindcore purists. A grindcore aesthetic certainly pumps the heart of their extreme sound, but right from the beginning of the opening track ‘Gringo’, there’s a feeling that something is just a little different.
A year on from Redbait’s debut EP ‘Red Tape’, their follow-up release ‘Cages’ presents the St. Louis hardcore band in an especially confronting mood. Given the state of the world at the time of release that’s hardly surprising, but even so, the EP’s opening number ‘Capital Gains’ is particularly sharp and aggressive even by their previous standards. In a seventy five second howl of rage, the band move through several aggressive styles, each one clearly showing a band that’s not to be messed with…and certainly not about to take things lying down. A huge buzz of bass feedback instantly signifies something great is afoot and within seconds, the track explodes into a slab of crust-punk fury with a message that’s particularly pointed as the band calls for a “working class liberation” for “all ages, all races, all genders and all wage earners”. This is hard to gauge without a trusty lyric sheet, of course, but between a furious vocal performance that mixes hardcore shouts and black metal inflections seamlessly, a brief instrumental breakdown leaning towards more of a metal sound and a huge climax featuring male and female voices absolutely screeching, this is a powerful opening statement for fans and first-timers alike.
On this EP, Israel’s Nihilistic Legion shows how much noise a one-man band can make. Playing absolutely everything, the mysteriously named Tohu fuses classic death metal sounds with a touches of grindcore and other extremities to create something incredibly forceful. The five songs – four originals and one cover – shows off an artist whom has utter conviction in his art, but production wise, these tracks aren’t necessarily shown at their best. In fact, the chosen mix is so claustrophobic and abrasive in places, it can be rather hard to pick out the finer points of the sound. It doesn’t make for especially easy listening…but maybe that’s deliberate.
Back in 1986 when the seeds of grindcore were sown, it seemed to take extreme music to a whole new level. Often with a raw sound and fairly low budget, the fusion of extreme thrash metal and blistering punk sounds in the hands of bands like Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror created something almost beyond music – a form of short and sharp brutality that was utterly visceral. For something that seemed so niche, grindcore flourished with scenes popping up all over the globe. With bands like NAILS keeping it alive in the twenty first century, almost thirty years on from Napalm Death’s genre-defining ‘Scum’, it couldn’t just be written off as a novelty.
Greek grinders EDxKEMPER are absolutely devastating on their 2016 release ‘Cut Her Head and Love Her’, as they mix the brief bursts of noise from those genre pioneers with more of a crust punk aspect and some extreme metal heaviness for good measure. What’s perhaps most impressive here – without anything resembling actual songs – are the production values. Whereas you might expect something of this nature to hang on to some fairly primitive origins – much in the way an early Crass record could be seen as a snapshot of an afternoon – the production/mix on this disc is stunning.