Blast Worship: The Top 50 Grind/Powerviolence Albums of 2010-2019: Part 5

Here we are, finally at the end of our five-week retrospective on the best grind and powerviolence albums of this past decade. If you missed them, you can catch up on parts onetwothree and four first. It has all been building up to this last installment, the cream of the crop, the crème de la crème of the past 10 years. Let’s do this:

Pig Destroyer
Book Burner (2012)
I guess someone must have sent out a memo to all the scene elitists that it was no longer cool to like this band or something. That’s fine, because I never got that memo and so I instead get to enjoy this album right here which to be quite honest is better than 95% of the trash I see get published on YouTube under the “grindcore” tag. Oh, you don’t like breakdowns? Boo fucking hoo, the songs on “Book Burner” spent as much time searing your ear drums with perfectly executed blast beats as they do kicking you on the ground with its endless stream of anthemic fight riffs and mosh parts. Take “Burning Palm” for example, opening with a white-hot Discordance Axis inspired blast riff only to finish with the TKO at the end. Anyone who accused this band of taking a step back with this album needs to spin it a couple hundred more times. Favorite Track: “Burning Palm”

Captain Cleanoff
Rising Terror (2015)
Easily the most “traditional” grindcore album to crack the top ten, “Rising Terror” doesn’t do anything new necessarily but it treads well-worn territory with such a high-level of execution that it’s inclusion almost felt mandatory. If you are bemoaning the fact that Insect Warfare hasn’t released any new music this past decade then I suggest you look no further than these Aussies who seem to have mastered that familiar pattern of searing circle-pit riffs, hurried D-beats and absolutely take-no-prisoners blasting that any and all fans of traditional grindcore hold dear to their hearts. But whereas Insect Warfare executed their music with an air of seriousness, the boys in Captain Cleanoff drench everything with a vicious sarcasm and sense of humor that somehow only amplifies the intensity of the music with tracks like “Never Learn” and “Flavour of the Weak” almost taunting the listener before eviscerating them. Favorite Track: “Turmoil”

Voices (2016)
After essentially perfecting a certain brand of crust-influenced grindcore in their early career, Wormrot really turned some heads in 2016 when they released Voices, an album that infused their already explosive formula with elements of melody borrowed somewhat liberally from black metal and shoegaze. Though some long-time fans were turned off by the creative departure, many more were blown away, including myself. Songs like “Hollow Roots” and “Fallen into Disuse” perfectly marry the bands sinister take on thrashy grindcore with the sweeping melodies of black metal to make music somehow has even more staying power than their already mighty previous efforts. This is the sound of a band taking a chance and very much succeeding, a rarity in this sphere of music. Favorite Track: “Hollow Roots”

Under (2013)
Though released in 2013, Under still remains the absolute gold standard for “false grind,” a small but steadily growing micro-genre which combines grindcore traditionalism with elements of modern beatdown and hardcore. Ground’s music consistently hits with greater impact than any of their beatdown brethren and the blasting is only made more intense by the knowledge that there is an impending breakdown or two-step waiting to kill you just around the corner. Every note of Under is drenched in a sort of self-aware ignorance and absolute disdain, from the taunting opening notes of “Deceive//Neglect” to the absolute barn-burner of a fight riff that concludes “Slave to Me.” This is a better hardcore album than your favorite hardcore album and can go toe-to-toe with any grind band you throw at it while somehow remaining distinctly itself: completely ignorant and proud of it. Get fucked, coward. Favorite Track: “Slave to Me”

Beaten to Death
Unplugged (2015)
Easily the most creatively unhinged album to crack the Top 10—if not the entire list—Unplugged by Norway’s Beaten to Death is an idiosyncratic listening experience through and through. For starters, the guitar work is unique in its lack of distortion and use of melodies and single-string techniques that feel more at home on a Periphery album than anything even remotely related to grindcore. Pair this with vocalists that traverse the range of techniques found throughout the entire pantheon of extreme metal and esoterically humorous song names such as “Home of Phobia” and “Don’t You Dare Call Us Heavy Metal” and you have one of the most unique metal experiences of the past decade. Favorite Track: “Don’t You Dare Call Us Heavy Metal”

Dead Instrument
See Through Negative (2014)
Grindcore music as a whole is essentially centered around the blast beat and creative ways to execute it and no other band this decade committed themselves to worship at the altar of the blast than Dead Instrument. This eight-song EP is essentially a tour-de-force frolic through the art of blasting. And blast it does—relentlessly. I would so much as venture to guess that a good ninety percent of this album is just blast beats. The genius lies in how the band manages to fit in memorable riffs and sections into this obscene buffet, with “Most Worthless” and “Streetwalk Crosshairs” offering as much in the ways of crust-laden hooks as they do in terms of sheer velocity. You can try your best to headbang along to this, but you will fail. Favorite Track: “Most Worthless”

Mellow Harsher
Served Cold (2015)
I specifically made sure not to use the word “hellacious” because I was saving it for this album, which by any standard of measurement is absolutely hellacious. Wisconsin’s Mellow Harsher blend only the most absurd elements of grindcore and powerviolence into a combustible mix that really stands alone in terms of sheer sonic attack. Every blast beat is skewed by off-kilter drum fills and jabs that come seemingly out of nowhere while still finding ways to fit in the most ignorant and jarring of breakdowns. This is absurdist, crazy music made for only the most courageous of listeners. I listen to it once a week to help remind me what this type of music is supposed to do for the people listening to it: Annihilate them. Favorite Track: “Brickbath”

Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire
Visceral (2011)
There is perhaps no album on this list quite as visceral as…Visceral (fuck). In all seriousness, I had previously mentioned that Ethan McCarthy from Primitive Man had a few grindcore projects before venturing into serious Doom territory. We covered Death of Self previously on this countdown but it’s his other grind band, Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire, that gets the honor of coming in at the No. 3 spot. CTTTOAFF married Ethan’s split interests of ungodly and grotesque death/grind with absolutely oppressive funeral doom that came together to leave the listener with one of the most emotionally harrowing experiences imaginable even within the extreme confines of this sub-genre. Every single note of “Visceral” is drenched in absolute misery and the songs of nothing short of complete punishment, alternating between blinding, hate-filled buzzsaws and the most agonizing doom imaginable. Even the thrash parts like the beginning of “Garbage” are so coated with utter malevolence that it pushes the music into the realm of otherworldly. Visceral is musical torture personified and just about everything else seems to pale in comparison. Favorite Track: “Garbage”

Pro-Exploracao (2013)
This is a band from Brazil that released two albums on the internet in the early 2010s and then seemingly disappeared forever. I have yet to meet anyone who has heard of them and they remain as hyper-obscure as ever. And yet here they are coming in at number two anyway. I remember being utterly enamored with the harshness and relentlessness of this album when I first encountered it way back in 2013 and remain so: every aspect of this album from top-to-bottom is covered in filth, grime and hatred and I absolutely love it. The guitars are distorted beyond the point of producing anything intelligible and the vocals alternate between hellish high-pitch screams and pitch-shifted savage growls, all coated with perfectly executed sonic flairs of static and feedback. I know little beyond this band’s ethos beyond the fact that they stated they were “anti-capitalism” on their bio a few years ago. This was the album that inspired me to start writing about this style of music and I will put this on every once in a while to re-affirm my faith that there are bands out there who are getting it right, who are pushing the limits and performing at an unspeakably high level like this. Favorite Track: “Miseria Occulta”

Longhena (2014)
Believe it or not but I did spend a tremendous amount of time putting this list together, deciding which albums would be included and what order they would appear in but I can honestly say that at no point during the past few months it has taken me to put this thing together did I ever hesitate to think that this album would be number one. Serving as Gridlink’s swan song and rumored at the time to be the last piece of music Jon Chang would ever appear on, Longhena was an absolute game-changer, proving that there is room for emotional expression within the rather strict confines of grindcore. I remember when this album came out friends of mine told me it made them cry, what other grindcore album can you say that about? Every song on Longhena is anthemic and provides the listener with a journey with detours often veering into hauntingly melodic territory. Songs like “Constant Autumn,” “Thirst Watcher” and the endlessly epic album closer “Look To Winward” prove what’s been obvious to genre enthusiasts for a long time but has been slow for the outside world to catch up on: grindcore is art and is to be taken as seriously. Favorite Track: “Look To Winward”