If you know anything about Beaten to Death, the Norwegian grindcore/avantgarde/genre-defying band, you know to shed any expectations when approaching any list written by them. This is especially true when we’re talking about influences; after all, the whole point of B2D is to create a frenetic motley of genres that doesn’t rest for a second, pummeling the listener with a stream of noise that, somehow, manages to communicate emotion. However, at their core, Beaten to Death is still an incredibly heavy band and this shows through the choices below.
Vocalist Anders basically used this list to take you on a journey of exploration through some of the most important (Discordance Axis), weird (Damaged) and downright classic (Kreator) influences on grindcore and heavy music in general. The choices below represent a bewildering range of intensity but still coalesce around a common core: playing music loud, fast, and angry. Head on down below for a lot of that and don’t forget to check out Beaten to Death’s latest release, Agronomicon. It’ll knock your socks off.
Discordance Axis – Jouhou
I’ve been obsessed with Discordance Axis for years. They have been included on every best album list I have made (and being a sad, metal crazed, white guy in my late thirties means I have made a shameful amount of best of lists through the years. To what end? I am only looking at them alone at my desk, patting my own back for my excellent taste in music. A futile attempt at defending my investing thousands and thousands in records and merchandise, I guess) since they came onto my radar around the release of The Inalienable Dreamless.
These guys instantly struck a nerve with me. DA managed to fine tune grindcore insanity. Something just fell into place when I first heard The Inalienable Dreamless. That extra quantum of intensity was inherent in every riff, scream and blast beat. And as much as their final album was perfection I would like to shine some light on their sophomore album Jouhou, because I haven’t really seen that much mentioned about this masterpiece around the interwebs.
Jon Chang is a freaking legend when it comes to the machine gun high-low –high-scream combo approach to grind vocals that is the basis of a fair share of our own vocal arrangements in Beaten to Death. Particularly, his high pitched screams are worth noting. He sounds like he is stuck in constant agony at a mid level in some dystopian sci-fi computer game and he can’t escape. He is def on my top 5 vocalists that has influenced me-list (yay, another list!)
If you find it, check out their live dvd, Pikadourei, as well. A perfect visual companion to experiencing Discordance Axis.
Damaged – Do Not Spit
I got this album from some Australian dude through tape trading in the mid 90’s. I had never heard of it before. Still remember putting the tape in the deck for a spin for the first time. It tore my head clean off. I had to pick my head up, ask my mother to help me sew it back on, clean the bloodied floors and then go back to listening to the tape. Again. And again. And again. I actually wore that tape out. It took a good few years before I got hold of it on CD (remember those?) after the tape broke. It was reissued on CD around 2001 with an added bonus of the still good, but not awesome EK Passive Backseat Demon Engines.
If you haven’t heard of Damaged before, go find this hidden gem online right this minute. They play a seamless blend of almost every extreme metal genre there is. Originally released in 93, this was way ahead of its time if you ask me. I haven’t for the life of me understood why this album never got the praise it deserved. Don’t think it’s available for streaming anywhere, but you can purchase it on iTunes and the likes at least.
Brutal Truth – Sounds of the Animal Kingdom
The introductory words of the first track, “still not loud enough, still not fast enough!” resonate with every grind freak out there. It has become a call to arms of sorts. Although I had been listening to grindcore since age 13, which meant about 4-5 years back when I first heard this album, the release of this album in 1997 marked the point where I decided I was a grindcore lifer. Chaotic, gritty, off kilter riffing. Very punk sounding mad man blast beats. And of course: Kevin Sharp’s vocals.
This guy is number 1 on my top 5 vocalists that has influenced me list. Going from guttural growls to shouts to vulture screams without drawing a breath. From the boiler room to the loft at the flip of a coin. A fun fact: Kevin Sharp actually did a stint as the vocalist in the aforementioned Damaged after Brutal Truth disbanded in 1999. Weird coincidence, huh?
Burnt By The Sun – self-titled EP
Burnt By The Sun has been a huge influence on a couple of us in B2D. They developed their very own flavor of groovy hardcore riffing, and something as oxymoronic as intelligent sounding break downs. Mike Olender’s insistent shouts makes you sit up and listen to the guy. Their debut album “Soundtrack to the Personal Revolution” was what brought me on board, but over the years I keep coming back to their first EP more often. The production is way shittier than the first album, but the song writing on this 8.5 minute (perfect song lengths! averaging at 2 minutes! Just like us!) adventure is outstanding. If I am home alone listening to this EP, I at times get so excited, I start doing lame assed hardcore mosh moves. Just imagine a 38 year old pear shaped, hobbit sized guy doing “pick up change” all by his lonesome in the living room. Pathetic. Can’t help it though.
This is the second appearance of drummer David Witte on my list. The guy must be doing something right. BBTS were advocates of two other bands that became very important to me: the slightly obscure Ripping Corpse, that featured a young, pre-Morbid Angel Erik Rutan in their ranks, and the martial arts obsessed groove machine Dim Mak, that I guess was what Ripping Corpse transformed into when the corpse was finally ripped apart. Eh. Check out Ripping Corpse’s Dreaming With The Dead and Dim Mak’s Intercepting Fist while you’re at it. It just might tickle your fancy. Hey look, I managed to sneak in two more albums in a 5 album list! Because, as Yngwie Malmsteen, says: “how can less be more? It’s impossible. MORE IS MORE!”
Kreator – Extreme Agression
Ok, so although I would like to think so, I wasn’t born into this world screaming about multi national corporations, genocide of the starving nations. There was a long and winding road traveled from first discovering Metallica at age 11, going through all sorts of metal flavors of the week until I found out that the extreme end of the metal pool was where I enjoyed spending my time the most. Kreator, and particularly Extreme Agression, was an important part of that trip. And it is still my favorite thrash metal album. What is there to say about Kreator, really? They are riffmeisters. Mille Petrozza is pissed off, and as he says: Love them or hate them, it doesn’t matter to them. They don’t give a fuck anyway.