There were plenty of ups and downs for all of us in 2021. One pandemic ended, another one started and they even got a dang old boat stuck in the Suez Canal! But enough about my sex life, let’s get to what you’re really here for — an arbitrarily put together list for you and your friends to shit all over on Facebook! Here now is Blast Worship’s 21 favorite grind/powerviolence songs of 2021!
“Grasp” by Knoll (from Interstice)
Newcomers to the grind scene, Memphis, Tennessee’s Knoll release one of the most visceral full-lengths of 2021 with Interstice, that saw the band combine elements of grind, doom and harsh noise to full bombast. “Grasp” is the centerpiece of the album, seeing the band plum the depths of discordant doom with a broken sounding melody that sounds like it could be pulled off a vintage Clinging To The Trees of a Forest Fire record. Harsh, indeed.
“I Beg for Death” by Human Obliteration (from split with Vile Species)
Cali-based Human Obliteration just kept rolling along with their skate punk-influenced grindcore on their split EP with Greece’s Vile Species. Their half was filled with some memorable and creative moments but the standout for me is “I Beg for Death,” a song which succinctly balances their ’80s metal influences with some absolutely eviscerating and precise blasting.
“You’ll Pay the Bill To the Styx” by GUMMO (from A Fresh Breath on the Neck)
Coming from seemingly out of nowhere, France’s GUMMO released one of 2021’s most underrated grind full-lengths in A Fresh Breath on the Neck. “You’ll Pay the Bill to the Styx” is the standout track to me, featuring a snarling, snot-nosed hardcore breakdown that bookends some serious crusty grindcore that creates something seriously ANTHEMIC.
“Hematopoietic System Tissue and Lymphoid Fail’ by Last Days of Humanity (from Horrific Compositions of Decomposition)
Dutch goreblast godfathers Last Days of Humanity tore a hole in the universe with their latest full-length Horrific Compositions of Decomposition back in March. The album featured a modernized version of what the band is known for, namely absolutely inhuman goregrind vomited at maximum velocity and volume. Album opener “Hematopoietic System Tissue and Lymphoid Fail” set the tone early for what the vibe is: pure, relentless disgust.
“Valientes Sin Armas, Sociedad Sin Miedo” by Bayt Lahm (from “Valientes Sin Armas, Sociedad Sin Miedo” single)
Epic in scope and concept, Bayt Lahm’s standalone single was a latte comer to the race but takes it’s rightful place on this list due to it’s dynamics and creativity. The song twists an contorts for over two minutes, swirling between doom, grind and psychedelic sludge, while doing so with a strong political message about the current situation in Columbia.
“Short Work” by Internal (from Primal State)
The most powerfully violent track of the most powerfully violent album of the year lives up to it’s name. “Short Work” makes short work of the listener, leaving you bruised, beaten and battered all within 21 seconds.
“Quelaag” by Neon Hiss (from shame)
Synth-grind-beatdown might not be an combination of subgenres that we are used to, but if this Toronto-based unit keeps putting out albums like shame, we just might have to. I can’t say for sure what settings all the computerized instruments are on in “Quelaag,” but I do know the overall effect is like if the Locust tried to write tough guy hardcore song. If that doesn’t sound like it would be something that appeals to you, well, I’m sorry you have such bad taste.
“xWizardxBlizzardx” by Will Cope (from An Attempt)
It seems like yearly tradition that I have to include at least one powerviolence song that starts with an anthemic fight riff, explodes into punk chaos and then ends with the same anthemic fight riff. Well, here ya go, ya filthy animals.
“Cannibalized Alive” by Ptomatopsiaa (from Parturition)
Connecticut gore fiends released the hypergoreblast album of the year with their pandemic era debut EP Parturition. There really isn’t much to be said here besides that the snare pings, the vocals gurgle and the guitar sounds it’s being played with a soldering iron. Pretty sweet if you ask me.
“Solving the Equations of Life and Death” by Deterioration (from Transcending Human Confines)
One of the most subversive and irreverent releases of the year, Deterioration’s Transcending Human Confines EP brought the usual madness we have come to expect from the Midwest grind maniacs. Album closer “Solving the Equations of Life and Death” begins with a hilarious sample that really encapsulates some of the absurdities of the COVID era and then explodes with frenetic blasting before devolving into one of the more memorable gore/thrash riffs this side of the mortuary.
“Tlat-Melet” by Karkait (from Yevul)
One of the most hypnotic songs on this list, Isreal’s Karkait decided to close their masterclass of an EP Yevul with a nearly five minute dirge that relies on exceptionally angular guitar work and rhythmic jungle drums to create a dark swirling mass of agony that leaves the listener completely entranced. Brood in the anguish if you dare.
“Trojan Whore (Live)” by Pig Destroyer from Pornographers of Sound)
Putting this on here kind of feels like cheating but to be quite honest there probably wasn’t a single track I listened to more this year than the live version of this Prowler In the Yard staple. There is seriously no bigger ‘KILL EVERYONE AROUND YOU’ moment you can experience at a live show then when THAT RIFF kicks in around the 45-second mark. Complete shoulder-dislocation music.
“Defiant” by Death Toll 80K (from The Future is Yours)
No one is carrying the militant grindcore torch better these days than these Finnish bastards. I’m convinced they release new music every other year just to put every other band in their place. The Future Is Yours is no different and “Defiant” starts the proceedings with the most relentless circle pit riff this side of “World Extermination.”
“Dogmatic Embrace” by Ixias (from tinge)
Baltimore’s Ixias brought the absolute heat on their debut full-length tinge, an unsettling sonic collage of ultra-violent Discordance Axis-influenced grindcore and haunting soundscapes. “Dogmatic Embrace” personifies the two elements of the album perfectly, initially eviscerating the listener with an inhuman buzzsaw of blast beats before evaporating into ghostly piano chords underneath some news samples about thee dissolution of the fabric of our society.
“Goodnight Midnight” by Sugar Wounds (from Calico Dreams)
Easily the longest song to have appeared on any of these lists, “Goodnight Midnight” is a shimmering jewel that caps off Calico Dreams, one of my favorite full lengths of this past year. Combining equal parts Deafheaven, Gridlink and Agents of Abhorrence, the nearly eight-minute runtime encompasses a wide spectrum of emotions butt one feeling seems to overpower them all: wonder.
“Scarlet” by Takafumi Matsubara (from Mortalized)
Look, the rules are pretty simple: if you put the guitarist and vocalist from Gridlink on a track and release it, it’s pretty much guaranteed to get a spot on this list. It also doesn’t hurt if said song features some of Matsubara’s most melodic and exceptional work, even by his lofty standards. Let it shimmer.
“Icaro” by Cognizant (from split with Cryptic Void)
Cognizant’s split release with Cryptic Void was probably my favorite split EP of this past year. Suffice to say both bands took it upon themselves to occupy some very spacey territory on this release, no better than on album closer “Icaro,” which features one of the most memorable melodies to come out of grindcore this year.
“Product of My Environment” by Jarhead Fertilizer (from Product of My Environment)
Probably the single biggest ass-beater on this list, Jarhead Fertilizer’s magnum opus from the album of the same name simply takes no prisoners. It’s just one knuckle-dragging caveman riff after another that will leave you utterly bruised and battered after its three-and-a-half-minute run time. Enter the fist.
“Eden’s Tongue” by Socioclast (from Socioclast)
Socioclast absolutely devastated the 2021 landscape rather early with their debut self-titled release back in February. Playing a blend of only the most violent elements of Assück and early Deicide, the album is relentless, but the standout track is unquestionably “Eden’s Tongue,” which opens a bruising rumble and ends with an absolutely hellish torrent off blasting only to explode into one final slab of agony. Bring the pain.
“Burning Apparition by Full of Hell (from Garden of Burning Apparitions)
The kings hath returned and are better than ever. Even by their own lofty standard Garden of Burning Apparitions is as strong an effort as anything Full of Hell have ever done, as the band really has seemed to hit a stride by incorporating more of a mathcore influence into the album. This technique is displayed no better than on the album’s quasi-title track ‘Burning Apparition’ which features some of the most vicious stop start transitions to ever brace the grindcore canon.
“Septic Bloom” by Vixen Maw (from Four-Way Split)
2021 will go down for me as a very experimental year for grindcore, as this list can very much attest. With this in mind, I can honestly say no other moment really blew my mind the way it did when I first heard this song off of Vixen Maw’s four-way split with Thin, Slabdragger and Wallowing. “Septic Bloom” is a stained glass kaleidoscope of the most fringe elements of experimental metal: theremins wail and voices shriek into the otherworldly darkness while computerized drums pound into oblivion. But the absolute crown jewel has to be the ending. I never thought I would use the phrase “death metal dubstep” in a celebratory manner, but 2021 was the year that taught us all to expect the unexpected.