Grind vs Grind Noise vs Melody

   Grind and noise are a million miles apart, yet they’re practically connected like Siamese twins. Siblings that love and hate each other; they punch, then hug.  Between melody and dissonance’s constant battles, the sounds create an agitation to the listener, on top of the ultimate fuck you to conventional music and lyrics. Even in the golden age, it was considered pure noise. By today’s standards, the early 90’s material seems a bit tame. Around the new millennium, bands started pushing extreme music to new areas of chaos and the old gave way to new. There are many divisions and sub-genres in this form of extreme metal. Some take to labels, most rebel. Lines are drawn and, for some reason, people just don’t agree and take to social media to slag. Noise hates melody and political hates gore grind. It’s time to talk shop, grind shop.

  Grindcore originates from Napalm Death and a description drummer Mick Harris gave to his then crossover hardcore/punk/metal outfit. Viewed initially as noise, the band started to gain fans locally, leading to a record contract and distribution in the US. American band Repulsion stumbled into the genre as a proto-death thrash band playing as fast as they could. Their drummer, Dave Hollingshead, created a beat under the insistence of the others to go faster. These two bands, in my opinion are traditional grindcore. They use 4-4 time, and are peppered with catchy breaks and memorable guitar and bass lines. 

                                                               Repulsion - Horrified

Today’s grindcore is made up of the blurred noise of A.C. and the absurd, complex, and chaotic song writing structures of The Dillinger Escape Plan and The Locust. Drummers play unheard-of tempos, surpassing anything the aforementioned percussionists ever dreamed of. 
Are the new kids bored with tradition, and is this boredom causing them to look for new and exciting ways to present their art?  Harsh sounds and ugly chords, fleeting, schizophrenic tempo changes and throat shredding multi-vocalist’s screams are the norm. It seems as if the sounds are used as a weapon. Assaulting the listener, whether they’re accustomed to ear-piercing waves of pain, or not. Is it noise for the sake of noise, noise to piss off everyone, or are there more personal reasons?

 Cadaveric Spasm, from Philadelphia, use a sample and effect package to their flavor of grind. The amount of notes per riff is staggering, as is the strangeness of its content. Dave Ehrlich, bassist, thinks motives vary from band to band. “I’m sure there are noise bands who are doing it, because it’s an easy genre to get started in. But it would be an unfair generalization to assume that’s the norm.”

Plug and Play, is the motto of Shit Noise Bastards from Malaysia. Even though their love for early grind is true, SNB pound on their instruments without rhyme or reason (albeit the blast beat). They emit a screeching sound, that stabs its way from amps cranked to 11. They have an unbelievable 130 releases on their bandcamp page and Koyakinabuto drums, states it’s because the sound is real. What they play, they record, and are comfortable releasing. They sure enjoy pumping it out, no matter how shitty (and he makes no bones about how shitty). “It’s a matter of economy. There are many recording studios in our town, but the cost of recording would cripple the band.” So, they turn to lo- fi filled feedback grind, recorded on minimalistic recording devices.    
“Most Malaysian metal bands, now mimic Wormrot,” according to Koyakinabuto. He hasn’t anything bad to say about them, but he’d like to stay further away from a refined sound for SNB.
When asked why more groups are embracing noisier structures, as opposed to a traditional approach, Paul Herzog takes a moment. “I definitely have a special place in my heart for the fast shit that is frequently improvised, blown out, and tonally/sonically harmful. Although, THAT, all the time, is a tough sell for me on the regular.” 

Herzog is bassist and vocalist for Die Choking, a chaotic grindcore band from Philadelphia.  The trio’s combination of Napalm Death’s early chaos and dizzying fretwork destroys under the animal-like drum attack of Joshua Cohen. One listen to their album III, had me scanning their tour dates for a date close by. “Classic grind for me, emphasizes a more raw, punk and haphazard style. Up until recently, a lot of modern grind bands have seemed to fall into cycles of over-production, technicality and a more meandering type of song writing.” Maybe it’s a reaction to the polished sounds of bands on higher-tier metal labels? It’s almost mirroring Black Metal’s rise during the heyday of death metal. They used four track cassette recorders and put out classic albums, as a reaction/response to 90’s extreme metal’s mashed potato-like sound on their finished product. “I feel classic and noisier grindcore bands are in the same category. Both of which tend to represent a backlash against the modern triggered, and virtuosic speed which has infiltrated virtually every pertinent style of metal we hear today. The grind I know and love has always represented a departure from this. Do I still worship bands like Discordance Axis, Antigama and Maruta? Abso-fuckin-lutley. A rare few straddle this line so perfectly, that the crossover is rippingly relevant.” 

 I believe melody is part of music and it’s there even in the noisiest of noisecore bands.  It might just be one note. It may just be on one song, but you can find it. But, I see that melody influences modern noisecore to push harder away from it and become harsher, more confrontational. It’s the “let’s piss off the neighbors/parents/old people” mentality, that we, as metalheads really embrace. Noise is, however an acquired taste.

Anal Cunt (A.C.) started in Massachusetts in 1988 and are one of the most distinctive sounds in the infancy of grindcore and death metal. The blastbeat and guitar sound, smash together in a rumble that one can only describe as the noise a tornado makes tearing through a Kansas neighborhood. Tim Morse, former AC, and current Horrible Earth drummer, says musical rebellion is the reason.
“It’s a good question. You could say because noisecore is easier to play? Well, it’s not. Could be they feel the need to go over the edge from structured music. Really this form of music, is the last point, I feel, of free expression in heavy music. There really aren’t any rules, and there shouldn’t be.”

Austrian (by-way-of-Mexico) Sebi of noisecore band Money Hater, puts it this way: “Grindcore is life and angry feelings. Noise is freedom.” 

I’ve played and listened to grind since 1991.The blast beat is gospel to me. I have hundreds of songs that I’ve recorded in bands and at home.
I need to listen to grindcore. Grind is awesome, weather it’s noisy or not. I love it and will listen to it when I’m in a nursing home. I thought I’d outgrow it, or maybe another band or type of music would come along and I’d attach myself to it. Nope. From Enslavement to Obliteration is still my favorite album.


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