10 Essential Grindcore Albums | Revolver

10 Essential Grindcore Albums

From Napalm Death to Pig Destroyer
napalm death 1990 GETTY, Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images
Napalm Death, 1990
photograph by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

In metal's overwhelming drive to push the boundaries of sonic extremity, grindcore was probably an inevitable and natural end, "faster, louder, harder" (d)evolved to the point of "fastest, loudest, hardest" as humanly possible to play — and then, in the form of drum-machine bands such as Agoraphobic Nosebleed, even faster than that. "You Suffer," roared Napalm Death — the godfathers of the subgenre — on their 1.316-second-long masterpiece of that title, and many did indeed suffer (or at least shake their heads in disbelief) upon hearing the style's hyperspeed caterwaul, but for many others, grindcore is a thing of beauty — insane, absurd and sublime beauty. Here are 10 of the subgenre's best offerings.

Napalm Death — Scum

(Earache, 1987)
Some critics called Napalm Death's debut "the end of music," but for headbangers worldwide, it was the beginning of something great. Featuring two different lineups on its two halves, Scum discharge 28 machine-gunning tracks in barley 30 minutes, taking the credo "loud, hard, fast rules" to a revolutionary extreme. 

Carcass — Symphonies of Sickness

(Earache, 1989)
Before they pioneered melodic death metal, Carcass pioneered gore-grind, with their sophomore splattercore "symphony." The music is messy and abrasive, the gore-obsessed  lyrics are full of anatomical jargon from medical textbooks, and the gruesome cover art was banned for years. Metal has never been the same. 

Siege — Drop Dead

(Relapse, 1994)
Siege was formed in early-Eighties Boston by four hardcore kids alienated by the self-righteous straight-edge scene and enthralled in heavy metal. Driven by a contagious need for speed, these grind forefathers influenced hundred of bands, including Napalm Death. This is a re-release of a 1984 cassette. 

Brutal Truth — Need to Control

(Earache, 1996)
New York avant-grinders Brutual Truth were at their unconventional best on their second opus, which embraced odd instruments (a didgeridoo on the song "Godplayer"), bizarro guitar lines, and diverse influences from metal to punk. The record even houses a cover of the Germs' "Media Blitz."

Anal Cunt — 40 More Reasons to Hate Us

(Earache, 1996)
Destructionist pranksters Anal Cunt were extreme even by grindcore standards, and with Pantera's Phil Anselmo on backing vocals, A.C.'s fourth album was one of their most "fucking hostile." The LP's 41 purposefully inept microsongs, like "Kill Women" and "Dead, Gay and Dropped," offended on both moral and musical grounds.  

Nasum — Inhale/Exhale

(Relapse, 1998)
Napalm Death's own choice as heirs to their grindcore throne, Swedish speed freaks Nasum put the petal to the metal with straight-ahead hardcore infused riffs and trenchant sociopolitical lyrics. Says Napalm vocalist Barney Greenway of the band's debut, Inhale/Exhale, "it fucking blew me out of my chair."

Discordance Axis — The Inalienable Dreamless

(Hydra Head, 2000)
With Japanese vocalist Jon Chang shrieking cryptic lyric atop speed-blurring riffage and superhuman drumming, the song on Discordance Axis' swan song approximate howling whirlwinds threatening to spin out of control. The reclusive New Jersey trio A.D.D. assault was mercilessly obtuse and remains essential. 

Cephalic Carnage — Lucid Interval

(Relapse, 2002)
Often referred to as the Mr. Bungle of grindcore, Colorado's most hyperactive stoners blend everything from flamenco to black metal to free jazz into their own head-spinning sub-genre, hydrogrind. The "lucid intervals" are few and far between on their dense, delirious third album.

Terrorizer — World Downfall

(Earache, 1989)
While Napalm Death sired grindcore, L.A.'s Terrorizer were not far behind. Their one and only album combined peace-punk diatribes with blistering thrash-on-fast-forward. As Napalm, many of the group's members went on to work with other seminal bands, including Morbid Angel and Napalm themselves. 

Pig Destroyer — Terrifyer

(Relapse, 2004)
Mad howler J.R. Hayes' stream-of-psychosis lyrics matched with the fret-board gymnastics of guitarist Scott Hull (Agoraphobic, Nosebleed, ex-Anal Cunt) make this Virginia trio an unparalleled mix of precision and insanity. Their third full-length includes not only 20 hit of the band's signature breakneck groove but also the 37-minute Melvins-esque blockbuster "Natasha."