I’m sick of the sound of my own voice, so I won’t be grandstanding or trying to make sweeping statements about major events or big issues in the intros to Grind My Gears this year. This column is basically a place for me to shout about all the nasty bands I think everyone else should be enjoying, so that’s what it’s going to be. Feel free to call me out if I start to get an ego as big as the list of bands I’m giving you today. Some old, some new, all violent.
Ruining Music With Rumination
Edmonton’s Rumination released this record on the first day of the new year and many will have missed it. That simply will not do. Considering how well received the last Full of Hell record was received (duh), you’d think that The Lesser Key would already be at the top of the trending tags on every metal site going. While not quite as impressive, this short little record is fucking terrifying; these Canadians play warped, otherworldly deathgrind with an almost unsettling vigour. The ten-minute journey of washing machine percussion and dimension-crossing screams are blasted with a frosty black metal coating, bringing to mind Trumpeting Ecstasy more than Weeping Choir perhaps. The comparisons to extreme music’s most popular band right now are justified, with Rumination creating microcosms of hellish noise in each brief track.
Death To False Grind Haters
The next two releases from early January are joined together only by my need to have two bands in each paragraph after the first big one. But they’re both solid as fuck so there’s that, at least. The one-man Terror Threat from Hereford here in the UK kicks us off with some tight, precision violence that definitely owes at least a nod of the flat cap to Todd Jones and Nails. Decade of Decline is the second release to feature in GMG, but honestly blows the last one clean out of the water, back onto land, and stamps on its throat. That one guy who messages bands asking if their drums were recorded acoustically probably shouldn’t even bother firing this one up – but that doesn’t mean you can’t.
Canberra’s Facecutter grabbed my attention simply with their album art and name, going on to justify my initial interest by playing some of the scuzziest grindviolence going. Their Dehumanise release again belongs under the old “false grind” tag, but there is definitely nothing disingenuine about the music on display. Absolutely caked in distortion and fuzz, Facecutter’s strengths are in the ease of their shifting between grind, death, core, and powerviolence. There’s even a dark industrial type track in the middle that oozes blackened slime. The whole thing is over and done with before you get a chance to find your feet, only for you to find that the band have not just slashed your cheeks open, but they’ve sawn off your trotters too.
Go, Go, Power Violence!
Powerviolence is probably the only niche of extreme music where a demo recording merits inclusion in a column like this. Kidnapped‘s 2020 Demo is one such recording. The scratch bass is basically a noise track underneath the humping and jumping attack from the young violence purveyors, bubbling up through the cracks in the rattling snare and yelping attacks from the vocalist(s). The lack of perfect takes and clean edges between the tracks makes this snappy little spritz of systematic chaos pop; it definitely still sounds like a demo, but not your pals’ bands demo they recorded in their parents’ kitchen. A barrel of laughs at 200bpm.
Escuela Grind (nay Escuela, legal disputes aside) are on a hot streak of wild shows and savage splits – one just has to follow them on social media to confirm the former – so it’s only a fucking great thing that the first of a batch of releases from the young punks is out. PPOOWWEERRVVIIOOLLEENNCCEE is as seriously pissed as a release with a track called “Vanilla Ice” could ever be. The screeching and hollering bounces all over the place, like a crowd surfer, lost to the whims of the arms below them. Kicking, screaming, spitting, and savagely beating anyone unlucky enough to stick this on, Escuela Grind fucking slay. UK shows soon. Praise be.
The Big Guns
Outside of the really scabby underground stuff, I’ve coloured myself excited for some bigger releases in the greater world of grind. Benighted might lean more towards a typically death metal deathgrind sound nowadays but that doesn’t mean this crusty cunt can’t enjoy them too. “Brutus”, the first single from this year’s Season of Mist release Obscene Repressed has the French heavyweights taking steps towards cross-genre pollination like their neighbours Aborted. The big lurchy riff that follows the first real blast of hell is divine, and though the record will most likely be much and such exactly like this, who cares? It’s great.
Finally, a Grind My Gears regular (and the first band ever in the column!) signs with big label, drops new track, continues to blow me away. Over the last five years, South Carolina’s WVRM have been dropping EPs rammed full of piss, shit, vinegar, and vitriol but have since signed to Prosthetic Records in preparation for the birth of their Colony Collapse. “My Fucking Dixie (The New South)” might look like a Panic! At The Disco track on paper but the sticky, swampy grind on the track definitely doesn’t belong on a stadium run supporting Fall Out Boy. Though that would be fun, wouldn’t it?