We are back for round two of our countdown of the best grindcore and powerviolence albums of the past decade. If you missed it last week, part one can be found here. Otherwise, let’s get to it!
Intrinsically Worthless (2018)
One wouldn’t think that a dedication to skate culture and an emphasis on Origin-style proggy death metal would make for a cohesive listening experience, much less a good grindcore album but that’s where the strength of Intrinsically Worthless lies: The unexpected. Every song on this record is a twisting and turning labyrinth that flips tropes on their head as quickly as they pummel the listener from the most unexpected angles. “Invasive Empathy” is a perfect example: Starting with a slow knuckle-dragging beatdown that somehow morphs into a quasi-Ska riff that ends with some astute sci-fi metal chords. Who would have expected such dynamic from a bunch of Philly skate punks?
Favorite Track: “Invasive Empathy”
Many metal bands have embraced the “party” aspect of the genre but none have captured it with such a sardonic sense of venom as this Chicago-based grind outfit. “Highlife” is equal parts stoner metal, crossover thrash and cock rock all filtered through the lens of blistering, lo-fi grindcore that makes it a listening experience unlike any other. I can help but imagine Frank Booth drinking a PBR alone in a basement while listening to the intro of “Day by Day (Phobia),” gently muttering obscenities to himself.
Favorite Track: “Day by Day (Phobia)”
Circle of Dead Children
Psalm of the Grand Destroyer (2010)
One thing that was apparent while putting this list together was the proliferation of grindcore bands who embraced certain aspects of funeral doom to create a sound that could both blow the listener away with its speed and then crush them with the unbearable weight of DOOOOOOOM. This band hailing from the greater Pittsburgh area were one of the first to really go all-in on this idea while also adding in elements of slam and brutal death metal to create a cacophony that is as unique as it is devastating.
Favorite Track: “Refuse to Kill the Same Way Twice”
Subvert the Dominant Paradigm (2011)
Bryan Fajardo’s third appearance on this list for those keeping count, Subvert the Dominant Paradigm might be the most quintessential Fajardo release on this list. The 2011 LP set a new standard for sci-fi skronk grindcore, which drew equal influence from bands like Discordance Axis as it did the tech-death boom that dominated the decade before and features the number one modern grindcore drummer at his most insanely technical. But let’s not overlook the fact that there are some seriously juicy Nu-Metal slams on here like the beginning of “Slave,” a groove so bouncy it might as well come with its own ADIDAS tracksuit.
Favorite Track: “Waiting To Be Born”
Sex Prisoner (2010)
No record on this list pummels ass quite like this one. Purists will say it’s just a beatdown hardcore record masquerading as powerviolence and to be honest, they may have a point, but WHAT a beatdown record it is. To be fair, there are enough blast beats and noise interludes here to justify the powerviolence tag, but it’s the breakdowns that are the centerpiece and, my god, are they just perfect. If you’re knuckles aren’t bleeding from floor punches 10 seconds into “Judgement” then you really need to invest in getting that Judge hammer tattoo laser-removed because you are certified FUCKING SOFT.
Favorite Track: “Vanity”
Apex Predator – Easy Meat (2015)
Maybe you’ve heard of these guys? I’m gonna do my best to ignore how silly I find the name of this album and instead focus on the fact that this band actually managed to release a relevant album some 25 years after their initial apex (heh-heh). Apex Predator sees Napalm Death embrace a rougher production style that suits that current incarnation very well. If Enemy of the Music Business essentially created the formula for a modern Napalm Death album, then Apex Predator is just a very well-executed continuation of that formula but with enough artistic flourishes and deviations to earn its spot on this list.
Favorite Track: “Smash a Single Digit”
Air Loom (2011)
A whirling, swirling tornado of savage death/grind that pretty much smoked the ass off anything else that came out that year, “Air Loom” delivers the goods on a level only comparable to Priapus’s most elite contemporaries Maruta and Assück. Speaking of those legendary Floridians, “Air Loom” ends with a cover of “Salt Mine” that just might outdo the original and easily the best metal-on-metal cover of the past decade (Sorry, Chris Barnes).
Favorite Track: “Pushing Up the Quicksilver”
Lupre Bianca (2018)
These Minnesota-based purveyors of filth have been nothing short of prolific these past few years releasing new music every couple of months but it’s this EP from 2018 that to me still remains the pinnacle Deterioration release. This dirty slab of grind offers everything that makes Deterioration great: relentlessness, absurdity and an overall sense that you are listening to music both composed and recorded in a trash compactor.
Favorite Track: “Cement Starter Jacket”
Grindcore’s premiere “no-nonsense” band earns their way onto this list with perhaps their most “no-nonsense” entry in their discography. These swedes are essentially the AC/DC of grindcore in that you consistently know what you’re getting and it somehow doesn’t matter. Cursed is perhaps the most realized of the band’s album that strays only ffar enough from the band’s patented HM-2 formula of Nasum-inspired sonic violence to deliver thuggish pummelings like “Choose” and “Scared.”
Favorite Track: “Alone”
No One Knows What the Dead Think
No One Knows What the Dead Think (2019)
The fact that this is the only album to grace this list that came out this past year should speak volumes about its artistic impact. Every album Jon Chang has appeared on since the turn of the millennium has featured the sweeping emotions of a bittersweet farewell and “No One Knows What the Dead Think” is no different despite serving as a reunion of two-thirds of the original Discordance Axis lineup. Guitarist Rob Morton has shown a serious growth in his playing since he last appeared on record and this record as a whole is flush with the sort of epic, whimsical sadness that was only hinted at in their previous incarnation. Easily the most memorable listening experience of this past year and a strong entry into the grindcore catalogue of this past decade.
Favorite Track: “Autumn Flower”