Metal has always gravitated toward extremes, and perhaps no subgenre (short of black metal) has ventured closer to the edge than gore metal/goregrind. This is aural ultraviolence geared for maximum shock value — from the blast-beat-driven music and grisly lyrics to the equally gruesome cover art — sometimes to the point of unintentional hilarity (see Regurgitate). When it comes to explicit content, gore albums probably warrant three or four warning stickers for their detailed descriptions of human depravity and total musical mayhem. Here are 10 of the worst offenders.
Four years before Carcass' Heartwork gave rise to melodic death metal, this putrid clas-sick, with songs like "Excoriating Abdominal Emanation" and "Empathological Necrotism," inspired a less tuneful faction of the death-metal scene to take its lyrics directly from medical textbooks. Decades later, Symphonies is still the blueprint — musically, lyrically, and visually (check out the once-banned cover art) — for total gore.
Frequently cited as an influence on Napalm Death, Carcass and other extreme-death pioneers, Repulsion's debut (recorded in '86, released three years later) is a caustic blur of unadulterated speed and horrific lyrics. The band thrashes its way through 18 songs in less than 30 minutes, thereby setting the standard for every grindcore speed demon that has followed in its corpse-strewn path.
(Metal Blade, 1990)
Cannibal Corpse became a gore-metal franchise with the release of their now-mandatory, splatter-flick-inspired debut. Vocalist Chris Barnes (currently of Six Feet Under) grunts out lines like "Suck the vomit through intestines/Leaving nothing but bones," while his bandmates bash out a Neanderthal version of death metal that has won over fans including actor/comedian Jim Carrey.
(Wild Rags, 1991)
The rare female-fronted extreme-metal band, this demented trio was no novelty act. On Nuclear Death's third album, nonstop blast beats, seemingly random arrangements, and a virtual blur of guitar noise provide the backdrop for a horror show of sick-and-twisted lyrics. Nothing technical here, just an unrelenting assault recorded in shitty lo-fi for maximum effect.
(Nuclear Blast, 1991)
Joel Peter Witkin's photo of two mummified, decapitated heads kissing ensures that this album will leave a lasting impression. But Pungent Stench take no chances, hammering out a crusty sound that lurches from doomy sludge to frenzied grindcore, and lyrics that are just as unsettling as they are sometimes baffling.
This is goregrind as if played by Venom: sloppy as all hell, but so enthusiastic (i.e., bloodthirsty) who can complain? Rick Fleming's alternating shrieked/gurgled vocals lend the album a particularly unhinged quality that's only intensified by the grisly CD art by gore-metal artist extraordinaire Wes Benscoter (see the covers of the Regurgitate and Cattle Decapitation albums on this list as well).
These sick Swedes vomit out 38 short-and-shredding songs on what has to be one of the best combinations of fucked-up cover art (an absurdly literal envisioning of the album title), music, and lyrics — the goregrind trifecta! The amazingly heavy recording (courtesy of Nasum's Mieszko Talarczyk, R.I.P.) adds that much more impact to the unrelenting, splatter-thrash savagery.
(Death Vomit, 2002)
Carcass' influence is omnipresent here, and these Bay Area miscreants don't make much of an effort to disguise it. Impaled's parody/loving tribute to the gore gods is a brilliant combination of melodic death metal and knowingly dopey, anatomy-obsessed lyrics like "an abscinded face we'll replace with your posterior."
Aborted bring unusual virtuosity to gore metal's typically brutish onslaught, taking Carcass' primal bloodletting into the new millennium. While the music is deadly serious, the song titles ("Meticulous Invagination," "Clinical Colostomy") and over-the-top lyrics — "Numbed by the reek, prepare for surgery/Internal horror revealed, with a blast from the asscheek" — are a real gas.
(Metal Blade, 2004)
This album's cover — one of the most repulsive, yet hilarious, ever — portrays a cow crapping out a sloppy load of "humanure." The lyrics, meanwhile, are stricyly misanthropic — in a vegetarian kind of way (like Carcass, Cattle Decapitation eat no meat). And the music's experimental excess reflects the band members' affiliations with various other avant-grind bands, including the Locust.