Originaly appearing in Spin Magazine. Volume 7, Number 3, Jan '91, Pages 35, 36 Transfered

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Originaly appearing in Spin Magazine. Volume 7, Number 3, Jan '91, Pages 35, 36 Transfered to computer data, by Flesh GRINDCORE By Steven Blush. GRINDCORE BANDS ARE DOING FOR METAL WHAT THE GETO BOYS DID FOR RAP. THIER TOP-VOLUME BRAND OF MACHINATED MADNESS MAKES SLAYER AND CO. SOUND LIKE MR. ROGERS' HOUSE BAND. A half-dozen years ago it seemed Heavy Metal was destined to continue as purely mindless, directionless music But recently- spearheaded by the punk-influenced, speed-laced breakthrough of Metalica, the bad-ass mayhem of Guns N' Roses, and the major successes of rap-funk-enhanced acts like Faith No more-the era of Spandex and headband-clad lunkheads is being challenged by a new metal attitude eager to find new ways to experiment with both the sound and image of of Rock's hardest edge. The trend is most evident in the rise of Grindcore. Breaking past the death-metal barrier, these acts constitute metal's most important development in years- and it's grislier than ever. Primarily a U.K. phenomenon, grindcore's innovators blend the hyperspeed velocity of grungy death-metal merchants like Slayer and early-era Celtic Frost with industrial wall-of-noise texuring a~la Throbbing Gristle, early Swans, and present day Ministry. Realease, and promoted through Nottingham, England-based indie label Earache Records, gnarly bands such as Napalm Death, Godflesh, Carcass, Morbid Angel, Entombed, and Nocturnus are on the verge of modern consciousness. don't expect any of these acts to appear on American Bandstand or The Arsenio Hall Show in the near future, but their underground status is altering the face of the genre. the grindcore story dates back to the summer of 1987 when Earache honcho Digby Pearson put out the first Napalm Death album, Scum, a full-legnth epic comprising of brutal 30-second supersonic blasts that garnered critical acclaim and significant sales. "That album came out at the perfect time," Pearson says. "The harcore thing was still strong, but this was the first time that a band ad a real strong metallic edge into their music, while speeding it up beyond all recognition- which is Napalm Death's hallmark. they just put hardcore and metal through an accelerator- no one could be sure what the results were gonna be- andwe just went for it. "Basically, a lot of this label has grown out of Napalm Death's early involvement" Pearson continues. "There have been a lot of different members in Napalm Death over the yaers, and a lot of the bands that those members went on to join- Godflesh and Carcass, for instance- are also on the label. Thje band has been central to the label, really." The man credited with forming the grindcore style and dubbing the term (grind is a Brit-metal synonyme for Thrash) in Napalm primarily member-bassist Shane Embury. "Grindcore is now being accepted as the next extension from thrash metal," Embury offers. "At the same time, I always though this kind of music could become popular. It's influencing a lot of people, and that's pretty weird to me. as far as how this whole thing got started, we were really into Celtic Frost, Seige- Wich is a hardcore band from Boston- a lot of harcore and death-metal bandsbands, and some industrial noise bands like the early Swans. So, we created a mesh of all those things. It's just everything is going at a hundered miles per hour, basically. "As far as where we're going in the future," Embury continues, "I think we've gone as far as we can with the 'gods of speed' thing. We're starting to get into slower stuff, going for longer songs, as oposed to our blast aspects. Also, the noisy industrial stuff is cming more to the forefront. If you're familiar with our latest album [Harmony Corruption] I think you've got a good idea as to our new direction. We're getting into real painful noise: I just want to annoy people at the moment." While Napalm is the barometer by which all other grindcore purveyors are measured, the musical spectrum of these artists is significant. On the straight-up death meyal tip , Florida bands such as Morbid Angel, Massacre, and Nocturnus are powerful members of Pearson's lable. And while the Sunshine State has long been associated with a heavy-thrash contingent, Pearson's contingent with those bands comes from his long time association with the cult metal band, Death, who introduced him to the whole spectrum of drastic groups. The most severe, by far, is Morbid angel, whose ferocity makes Testement sound like Faster Pussycat in comparison. Led by madman guitarist Trey Azagthoth- his surname is taken from the Sumerian god of war and disorder- Morbid Angel's latest album, Alters of madness, is not for the weak of heart. Azagoth gained notoriety at last year's New Musicc Seminar in New York City by biting himself and drinking his own blood on stage. At the time, he told people that he was a 300 year-old vampire, a charge he now vehemently denies. "When I do something like that onstage, it's not something I'm parading or some kind of gimmick," Azagthoth says. "It's just personal expersion. If I feel like drinking blood on stage, I'll do it. But I'm not totally strange, I'll do some normal things, too." At this point in the discussion, azagthoth took a breif intermission to stop his pet pit bull from mauling his next-door neighbor's dog. He then added, "I'm into contradictions. I'm into extremes." Even more over the top is Carcass, led by onetime Napalm guitarist Bill Steer. Fusing sordid grindcore crunch with anatomically correct gore lyrics, Carcass has some of the nastiest song titles in rock history: "Cadaveric Incubator of Endoparasites," "Swarming Vulger Mass of Infected Virulency," and "Excoriating Abdominal Emanation," to name a few. "When we started the band in early '87," Steer recalls. "there were a lot of bands with so-called gore lyrics, but they were just writing about horror films and stuff like that. To us, that was inefective, it didn't have any impact on the listener. We wanted to introduce something that was a little more realistic. I mean, obviously, it's got a fantacy element too, because some of the ideas are overblown. But at the same time, the roots are in reality, and that's why we use medical terminology. Also, i'd like to think that there's an element of humor there. We're not afraid to parody ourselves at times." But arguably, the most innovative of these bands, is Godflesh, fronted by guitarist Justin Broadrick (formerly of Napalm death and Head of David). Frustrated by isular limitations of metal, and disillusioned by isular politics of the "alternative" scene, Broadrick set out to stake his own unique territory. Combining nasty guitar riffing and grotesquely strained vocals with the inhuman beat box rythms and sampling of the best Wax Trak acts, Godflesh possesses a sound that defies explaination, a sound truly exemplary of the grindcore aesthetic. But just because these bands share a common background and often tour together doesn't mean they like each other. In fact there's a fierce rivalry between Earache acts. "I think the only way we fit into this whole Earache thing is the fact that we evoke extreme reactions," says Broadrick. "But too many other bands on the label are extreme in a bad way, it's justr sensationalism. We feel further apart from that scene because we're not a metal band. To me, Carcass's music is really powerful, but it lacks any real direction; what they're singing about doesn't mean anything. I think we've gotten a legnthier vision of where music can go, where as a lot of bands are already working within a set of confines. Death metal's been around for ages- and I liked it originally for the power- but now it's gone beond a joke. I don't wanna say that Godflesh is the only band that's actually doing anything extreme, but I do think that we actually fulfill what this whole grindcore sound is all about. That's why I don't think may of these bands will last." Heated competition not withstanding, grindcore is bound to make important inroads for music. This year will bring new releases from all the aformentioned acts. 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