If there was ever a type of music to earn an award for being unconventional and far reaching, noise rock would take it home time and time again, spreading its roots everywhere from the base genre itself to everything from powerviolence to indie music. Noise rock is truly a genre that refuses to be pinned down, jumping between every genre and subgenre of “extreme music”, avoiding any rigid definitions while simultaneously thriving in the underground and mainstream worlds of music.
All of this is what helps to make noise rock so interesting as a genre as, even though it “exists,” it truly fails to exist, encompassing almost anything and everything that utilizes noise without falling into the raw, unstructured attack of power electronic and harsh wall noise artists such as Merzbow and Prurient. So perhaps this is not a starter kit for simply “noise rock,” as exploring only the pioneering artists would be a gross understatement to the true beauty of the genre, but rather a starter kit for some of the most powerful, noise driven artists that have existed in awhile, celebrating the diversity the genre harbors and exploring its furthest reaches.
Deerhoof – Milk Man (2004)
Even among noise rock, Deerhoof proves to be quite the anomaly, often swinging between the ecstatically dream poppy to down right poppy. The band is odd and abrasive to the point of leading the listener to question why they would even bother with such a band while simultaneously having such solid “non” song structures that even amidst the utter chaos that characterizes most Deerhoof tracks, it is easy to pick up on the occasional melody to hum along to. Deerhoof is odd in all of the best ways, and is a constant reminder of what interesting, unconventional music can be made when bands truly breakdown the genre walls.
It is also notable that members of Deerhoof were in perhaps the most interesting extreme music band ever, Gasp (also containing members of Despise You), the one and only “psychedelic” powerviolence band, even releasing a split with them in 2003.
Today is the Day – Temple of the Morning Star (1997)
Perhaps one of the best known acts among the noise rock and metal crossover scene is the Nashville, Tennessee based Today is the Day. The band has been churning out consistently fuzzy, reverb drenched sonic attacks since the early 90’s, constantly raising the bar for both extreme metal and noise rock music with their oh-so-familiar yet still ever evolving formula. While the ideas behind every album may stay the same, and the sound may generally be all within the same vein, it is impossible to deny that every Today is the Day album is a brand new slab of passionate, sonic terror that leaves the listener constantly desiring more and wondering just how they can go back to listening to any other extreme band after hearing the raw power present.
The Armed – Untitled (2015)
Perhaps you’ve heard of The Armed by now, the band that caused just about every self respecting punk and hardcore writer in the country to collectively cry tears of joy as, in 2015, new, interesting, fresh hardcore could exist. The Armed do not just exist, however, but exist above all other punk bands of the day, creating their sound with raw hardcore punk attitude, just the right amount of melody to suck the listener in on first listen, and then: BAM! Vicious attacks of extreme hardcore like you’ve never heard before, drenched in reverb and accompanied by a Mini-korg synthesizer that never quite plays right, adding a slightly endearing quality to the band and making them that much more unique. This is gut-punch, aggressive as hell hardcore, but existing on its own terms almost completely in the worlds of noise and art rock. It’s completely hipster shit in the best way, setting it so far above its peers its easy to wonder if the rest of hardcore will ever manage to catch up.