For Fans Of is a column that takes one very well-known and popular band that our writers and readers are fans of, and then our staff write about a small group of lesser-known bands that do similar things and who we think you all might like as well and give a listen to. Check out past entries here.
Short of the obvious progenitors such as Napalm Death, you’d be hard pressed to find a grindcore band with such an immense cult following as Virginia’s Pig Destroyer. Formed in 1997, Pig Destroyer have crawled from the gutter of not-so-subtle gonzo grind (guitarist Scott Hull was previously a member of the completely ridiculous Anal Cunt) and have made themselves icons of grind by means of bizarrely catchy riffing and J.R. Hays’ strikingly poetic lyricism. They’ve worked with the likes of ISIS and Orchid and have made transformative flings in doom and drone. Pig Destroyer are fast becoming one of the most celebrated artists in underground and extreme music, and they’ve earned their spot by not only developing their signature sound, but by influencing the landscape in their wake.
What follows is a collection of bands that carry on in the Pig Destroyer lineage. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and it’s quite possible many of you will be already familiar with at least a few of these bands. But we hope that this serves as an appropriate jumping-off point for many of you and that you can find at least one new band you were not already listening to.
You may not recognize the name Cloud Rat yet, but you will. This female-fronted grind anomaly from Michigan brings to mind the speedy punkness and experimentation of PxDx side gig Agoraphobic Nosebleed as much as they do the deathgrind style that Pig Destroyer themselves are known for, making them an obvious choice for a new obsession and potential future Relapse alum (seriously, Relapse; pick these dudes up). The group’s new record Qliphoth is comprised of basically every good thing about grind and its related genres; it’s loud, fast, pissed, and not afraid to be dynamic, not to mention the foreboding samples and the lack of a bassist, as per the norm. To cut to the chase: Cloud Rat are to Pig Destroyer what Windhand are to Electric Wizard, in the best way possible. This act lies in direct influential lineage and even though they wear the badge proud, they’ll be sure to carve their own path.
Rest in pieces of filth, Hivesmasher. This band smashed through a whole bunch of hives, venues and faces during their sordid career. Although they may have very recently called it quits, this East Coast violence vehicle blew a gigantic hole in the grind scene with each of their releases. Their swansong Gutter Choir would be my first taste of the head splitting jams that these chaps excelled in crafting. As organic and vile as they come, the short, stabbing attacks of grind and groovy death metal crash with the jarring impact of a typewriter tumbling down a spiral staircase. Unsettling and unpredictable, every track blares with the conviction of a driven, desperate being. If you thought you had heard every incarnation of staccato guitar chugs then (you will never) think the fuck again. Not afraid to throw down a meaty, stomping section complete with a piano and snare drum jam outro, sometimes it’s not even clear that the band themselves knew what was going on. Pour some out for one of the great ones.
Whacked out grindcore doesn’t come any better than the kind performed by The Afternoon Gentlemen. The UK has a pretty esteemed history when it comes to grindcore (noitch, we invented it) and this crew are flying the flag loud and proud. While not nearly as sinister as Pig Destroyer, these gents still cram hundreds of blasts, beatdowns and wildly appropriate gang shouts into a short space of time. Their sense of humour is appropriate to the current state of world affairs; soundbites of all varieties keep things rolling between tracks that barely broach the minute mark. Even though they keep things light, the music in question is anything but. D-beats and stabbing guitar riffs never let up, to the point where any breath you try and muster will be punched right back out of you. Their self titled LP clocks in at just under twenty minutes and doesn’t waste a second of run time. As addictive as meth and as drunk as your single, middle aged aunt, The Afternoon Gentlemen know exactly what the fuck they are doing; partying and grinding ‘til the cows come home.
It’s got “pigs” in the title, so it’s gotta be similar, yeah? All jokes aside, underground Nashville-based grindcore stars Bleed The Pigs take the classic PxDx formula and crank everything up to eleven. The guitars shriek and crunch like a chainsaw cutting through bone, the drummer bashes away at his kit until all that’s left of his sticks are small splinters, and the vocal performances are ferocious enough to make the neck-hair of J.R. Hayes himself stand on end. Their crushing sonic assault batters at the listener’s eardrums like some sort of crazed colossus, ripping and tearing their way through short and intense tracks. They are one of the most engaging grindcore bands on the scene right now: their coupling of sheer aggression in their performance and smart, powerful riffing means they’re currently cutting a vicious swath through the American grindcore scene with all the subtlety of Leatherface. Bleed The Pigs is one of the most intense bands currently available for those waiting on their next fix from our favorite group of grindcore juggernauts.
These pioneers of wonky, weird deathcore have gone through a different iteration on each album, and their swansong, Listen To The Color, shows them displaying a serious level of proficiency in creating what is, essentially, Pig Destroyer’s opus Phantom Limb on an acid trip gone horribly, horribly wrong. Remi Rodberg’s distinctly nasal scream leads the way for a sonic adventure through the dark side of your imagination as the instrumentals smash and crash their way through fifteen bizarre and unique-sounding tracks. The keyboards are, as with any version of AGATG, the highlight of the weirdness, and here, they’re at their best: the riffing from the guitars is solid, but the warped and twisted psuedo-psychedelic sound the synths play around with are what make the album a distinct taste among deathgrind and grindcore releases. If you need your fix of brutality, but with a unique spin, you can’t go wrong with this release.
Hailing from the fine city of Philadelphia, Die Choking is a new grind outfit that makes me proud to live so close to the city of brotherly love. The band is a non stop whirlwind of buzz-saw thrash riffs over pounding, machine gun like blast beats. Vocally, Paul Herzog delivers some of the finest cookie monster-esque growl/shout vocals in all of modern grindcore, almost reminiscent of J.R. Hayes himself. Besides, they recently played a show benefiting the Philadelphia Animal Wellness Society. Surely everybody can get down with a grind band who not only makes killer music, but also loves animals.
If you have listened to any grindcore, metallic hardcore, or crust punk band within the last twenty years, there is a high chance that they not only use, but essentially worship the HM2 pedal. This is in no way a bad thing, as the scuzzy-ness present in the HM2’s sound is undeniable, and adds an overall level of nastiness that complements the above styles well. Torch Runner is a band that relies heavily on the HM2’s ability to enhance the contempt for everything present in their music, and to great effect. They rip through song after song, barely ever giving the listener time to rest before hitting them with another massive wall of sound. Not to mention they consistently push the barrier of what grindcore is allowed to be a little further with every release, something a certain Richmond, VA grindcore outfit is quite well known for.
Simply put, WVRM is heavy, as in really, really heavy. The Greensville, SC have truly become masters of their craft in their relatively short career thus far, incorporating elements of sludge metal as well as deathgrind into their sound in order to create one unholy mind-fuck of noise. The guitars are massive, creating walls of chugging riffs that provide a nice groove for the frantic drum and bass assault to fit in. Best of all, the band can go from blasting through minute long songs into Primitive Man-esque sludge almost seamlessly, often leaving you feeling as if you went from being punched in the stomach really fast, to receiving, smaller, harsher punches instead. WVRM is for those who want to see just how extreme deathgrind can be, as well as be able to say they were supporting them before all of the big metal sites worshiped them.
It is truly a shame that In His Image is Gripe’s swansong. On the plus side, however, that swan is more like a tar and feathered PCP addict reaping his revenge upon the townspeople who had him stricken with the colonial torture tactic. Indeed, the Georgia grindcore band’s fusion of the filthiest subgenres found in extreme metal sounds just as gruesome recorded as it does on their Bandcamp’s “tags” section. Not much else can be expected from a band whose vinyl color of choice is entitled “dead cop” (aka blue with red splatter). And although it would be nice if the band’s apparently politically charged lyrics were decipherable, their track titles (“7 Billion Reasons Not to Reproduce,” “Save a Life, Kill a Cop,” “Assisted Genocide,” etc.) and musical ferocity paint a fairly vivid picture by themselves. The eighteen tracks on In His Image absolutely roar by in a flurry of crusty guitars dripping with grime, drums with no BPM limit and vocals possessed by something from the lower seven levels. Moments such as the old-school death metal intro of “Sick Fuck,” the thick, hypnotic riff towards the end of “Cotton Fever” and the sludgy closing on “Snowden” prove that Gripe are also proficient at penning a complete and engaging composition as well. It is unlikely that another album will surface from Gripe, but at least they left the genre with an excellent and abrasive exit strategy.
Although they may have only been active for around five years and only released one full-length record, Houston’s Insect Warfare were easily one of the most intimidating, uncompromising, and impenetrable grindcore acts of the 2000s. Whether the band was writing EPs with titles like At War With Grindcore or choosing to end their career with a complete shift into deliberately appalling noise with Noise Grind Power Death, everything was always focused on delivering some of the most antisocial, nihilistic and savage material in the style. Insect Warfare were never trying to make friends or be a part of some grindcore community. Everything is live, everything is pissed, everything is immediate, and everything is completely fucking raw. There’s never any room for subtlety, but who has time for that shit? It didn’t matter if the band wanted to delve into dark humor and talk about murdering rednecks in Carcass shirts or actually discuss serious political optics, everything was always pushed beyond 11. Of course the band is broken up now; how could they not be? Sure it may suck, but we can always take solace knowing that Insect Warfare hates us.