Label: Agromosh Records
Mainstays of the Japanese grind scene, Unholy Grave have a discography as long as most of their songs are short – so, very. Just look at it, in all its glory! Over the years, they’ve never lost their passion for short bursts of FETO-style grinding rage, with lyrics that recall the early days of the genre, all about social issues, politics, and anti-fascism. Of all their records, Revoltage is the one I come back to year after year; it may not be their best (but with 162 or so releases, who can judge?), but it’s a great example of the band’s energy and raw-as-fuck grind assault.
Label: Get Better Records
Over the course of just under six minutes, HIRS unleash one of the most vital, urgent grind records of recent years in YØU CAN’T KILL US. The abrasive nature of punk-infused grind is clear right from the start, with opener ‘NØT FØR YØU’ launching right into a full-blooded, groove-laden grinding rage, and the EP doesn’t let up from there. “We’re not for you!” goes the repeated refrain, and it’s utterly true – this is the sound of a space being carved out for those who do not feel they fit in with the sexist, transphobic, and otherwise discriminatory nature of modern Western society, where existence is an inherently defiant act.
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Of all the protest songs written over the past few years, I can think of few that are as righteous, and as enjoyable, as Viva Presidente Trump! by Brujeria. The Mexican drug-lord image of the band is perfectly aligned with the theme of the song – “[Trump] wants war? / And so do I!” – and helps with the song’s sense of humour, especially with the way it uses the opening sample of a Trump campaign speech. But more than that, Viva Presidente Trump! is simply an ass-kicker of a death-grind song, with one hell of a central, bass-driven riff.
Label: Vetala Productions / Rip Roaring Shit Storm / F H E D / Fenland Hardcore Collective
Looking for something fast, loud, and ugly? Then you’ll want this split between FilthxCollins and Skinlover. Grind, powerviolence, and fast punk is the order of the day, racing ahead at absurd speeds, with riffs (and songs!) over before you barely know they’ve started. No song on here lasts longer than 95 seconds, yet both bands still manage to pack in a bunch of killer riffs and movements. If you’re having a tough time getting going before work, then this’ll help get you out of back – or consider packing the whole “employment” thing in and staying home to play grind instead.
The Liar and The Saint, the debut album of grind three-piece Let It Die, does not fuck around. Sure, they might have a few moments of slower, feedback-drenched build-up in amongst the hardcore/grind fury, but even then, The Liar and The Saint is a full-throttle, teeth-bared onslaught of an album. The slower moments help provide that all-important contrast, making the fast bits hit all the harder; and there’s some killer riffs and breakdowns thrown in to the mix, too. All of this makes The Liar and The Saint one of the hardest hitting records from the UK underground in recent years.
Label: Blackened Death Records
“Metal should be shocking an provocative!” is something that, I’m sure, we’ve all heard before. Normally, such attempts at provocation take tired forms – fascist imagery, pseudo-Satanism, and intentional offensiveness that can be described as, to use an oh-so modern term, “edgy”. And yet when a band comes along challenging norms – such as Castrator turning the gender dynamic of violent death metal on its head, or Dawn Ray’d making passionate anti-fascist black metal, or simply by having members who aren’t straight white cis males in their ranks – they can often cause some of those same alpha metal warriors, who congratulate themselves on challenging boundaries, to have fits of apoplexy. I surely don’t need to provide examples – we’ve all seen it happen, it’s and something that Dick Weeks, the sole member of feminist grind act Olivia Neutered John (and head of Blackened Death Records) deals with almost daily, with anonymous death threats. It’s this context that helps make Transphobia Annihilation Squad, their new EP, so powerful and shocking. Too few people are making music that is this good, with a challenging message that has something worth saying.
Label: Earache Records
Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses, the debut album from Brutal Truth, more than deserves its status as a legendary grind album. This is an album that’s loaded with killer songs, including performances from two of the best performers in extreme metal, in bassist Dan Lilker and vocalist Kevin Sharp (who is also credited with power tools on this album). Combining a sense of humour with a keen social awareness, Extreme Conditions… is an album every bit as relevant now as it was upon release.