Top 5 Grind Albums of All Time

End of year lists are fucking hard, I always get into things way too late and I’m not one of those people that has the luxury of being able to get into every single thing that comes out, I listen to way too much stuff while I’m actually recording / mixing and then need to take a break from music in my downtime, otherwise I think I would go crazy.

I also find when I’m recording lots of  something, like doom for example music like Kanye West becomes more interesting … but I digress.

This kind of overexposure to music I’m working on as a good thing. I’m forced to leave lots of personal listening for a later date and that acts as a kind of filter.  It lets the buzz die down about whatever is new and trendy leaving only the totally worthy of attention.

So rather than compiling a end of year list here's my top five grind albums of all time, for no reason other than I feel listening to some grindcore today, and these 5 are what I intend to play.

1. Napalm Death “Peel Sessions”

This is without a doubt the pinnacle of Napalm Death for me.

These recordings are exactly as a grind band should sound, it’s fucking chaotic but clear and really well recorded/ captured.

I think you just buy them both on a single, CD or whatever now. If you don’t have these you need to have your head read. Totally worthy of the number one grind release ever and fuck you if you try and argue this in any way.

2. Sore Throat “Disgrace to the Corpse of Sid”

Their earlier album “Unhindered by Talent” was one of the first grind records I had and still I fucking love that album for its total crustiness, but “Disgrace” is a band totally off the fucking deep end. I listened to this for months without a break and probably went some way to giving me a tolerance to almost any musical form.


3. Terrorizer “World Downfall”

So tight and precise, “World Downfall” sounds like every single riff and crash hit has been thought out and planned to perfection.

Still a benchmark in how tight a grind band could be. Great turnaround riffing and when played loud it is fucking intense as it’s not mastered to squeeze the life out of it.


 4. Repulsion “Horrified”

A genre defining moment that turned death metal into grindcore.

The bass sound is still something to be admired.

So much has been said about this that it doesn’t really need much waffling …


5. Carcass “Symphonies of Sickness”

While “Reek” set the tone “Symphonies” was where it all came together, the sound on this recording was different to everything that came before it and spawned a billion shitty clone bands after it.

The entire record sounded like a wet autopsy and the entire package was fucking great.
Pity they lost it after this and started brushing their hair too much.

 

Honorable mention

Xysma “Swarming of the Maggots” Demo ‘89

Finnish grind that I lost for years when I ditched the cassette player.
Really good, well worthy, and, noisy as fuck …

I may do an article on these guys and the evolution of this band. Check it.

Death Metal Doco

Death Metal Special 1993

Death Metal Documentary

Here is a Death Metal documentary from 1993 with excerpts from concerts and interviews with band members Slayer, Gorguts, Atheist, Demolition Hammer, Death, Cannibal Corpse, Sepultura, Entombed, Morbid Angel.

At about 20 minutes in, it's got some Morrisound Studios stuff as well as an interview with producer Scott Burns who talks about how Death Metal is starting to become stagnant. That was 1993.

Witchskull & The Power of Three

Witchskull & The Power of Three

In the occult, the number 3, the triad, evokes powerful symbolism for numerous cultures throughout history. Fundamental to the Pythagoreans, piously with the holy trinity and more evocative of pagan flavours for the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) with their triad structures. It is Binah, the manifestation of time, space and matter. The number carries some serious magic; birth, life, death, the big stuff … READ MORE

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Witchskull & The Power of Three

In the occult, the number 3, the triad, evokes powerful symbolism for numerous cultures throughout history. Fundamental to the Pythagoreans, piously with the holy trinity and more evocative of pagan flavours for the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) with their triad structures. It is Binah, the manifestation of time, space and matter. The number carries some serious magic; birth, life, death, the big stuff.

In a musical context, it’s arguable that the power trio is the ultimate configuration for maximum rock. You have elder gods like Motorhead, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream to the more niche underground examples like Yob, Earthless or even prime Electric Wizard. There’s just something about that stripped back relationship of a guitar, a bass and drums that allow the vocals that extra room to resonate and tell stories.

In Witchskull, two of the lads come from two powerhouse trios of their own. Vocalist and guitarist Marcus De Pasquale is also member of Looking Glass. His guitar playing is legitimate wizard level, as many of you familiar with his work will attest from his years plying stages across Australia.

Less well known is that Marcus has a scholars grasp and understanding of the occult from decades of devoted study of Thelemic Gnosticism, Egyptology, the Kabbalah, Madam Blavatsky, Cicero, John Dee, Israel Regardie and a tonne of occult texts. He channels this extensive knowledge into the tales he tells on this album with stunning effect. His knowledge permeates the stories he delivers through the vocals on the record and provisions the reasonably straight forward musical approach with an atmosphere in equally exhilarating parts of unknown dread and wonder.

Marcus De Pasquale: Witchskull TVED recording session, Goatsound

Marcus and drummer Joel Green went to Campbell high together in the 80s. They played in a band together called Under Oath before Joel became a member of the revered and missed Armoured Angel. They were a pioneering band in creating an Australian touring circuit for heavy metal in the late 80s and 90’s. Following the debilitating injury of his close friend Alec Hurley in the early 90s, Joel started the fabled Metal for the Brain benefit festival which he spearheaded for the first 5 years before Armoured ended and Joel left town.

It was when Joel moved back to Canberra a couple of years ago, that the band formed and the triangle completed with Marcus’ best mate and New York ex-pat Tony McMahon on bass. Tony’s playing on this album casts almost as menacing a shadow as his imposing physical stature does onstage. His performance ties everything together from a rhythmic perspective, underpinning and reinforcing the rhythm section and giving Marcus space to either drop out and highlight a vocal or guitar line while keeping things moving.

Production wise, the tracks were captured and mixed masterfully at Melbourne’s Goatsound Studios, with the engineering and mixing duties by owner/proprietor Jason PC of Blood Duster fame. There was no need for him to bring studio tricks to the table here. Live drums inhabit a warm sounding room, with the mix allowing breathing room for the parts to weave their respective spells. That said, Fullers work distilled the performances clearly and seasoned the mix with a few subtle nuances here and there that balance the atmospherics with the live performance vibe which serves the mix nicely.

Superficially, the music presented on The Vast Electric Dark is glorious blend of music derived from proper Sabbath inspired traditional doom metal. Variously you will hear nods to the best of the kind of “stoner rock”. By that I mean the kind of stoner rock that draws inspiration respectfully, whilst paying homage to all the power trios aforementioned, and the monsters of the 60s & 70s. There are flashes the second generation of Sabbath bands of the 80’s like Saint Vitus and Pentagram both lyrically and musically.

Joel Green: Witchskull TVED recording session, Goatsound

They do so without resting themselves in either doom or stoner camp whilst maintaining an assured musical identity of their own conjuration.

This music lights the way to an accessible path through the misty dark of the story telling with the 8 nightmarish tales with an almost Lovecraftian quality. Lyrically Marcus provides hints and visions without spelling it out like a garish tabloid, delivered with the urgency of a scribe witnessing the events first hand.

Joel and Tony’s work present an intimidating tandem that absolutely nails down the backing to the heavy riffing and edge of the seat guitar solos. Their modus operandi is to keep the songs driving irrespective of the tempo which gives each song a sense of momentum. This approach perfectly compliments Marcus and “damn the torpedos” guitar performance. They could have spent 3 months perfecting the album to sound like robots played it. Well they didn’t, it was done in about 4 days and the album is better off for it.

We’ve seen many examples in recent years on this well beaten musical path of doom metal with contrived lo-fi productions to emulate the 70s or mask and make up gimmickry to try and emulate an atmosphere. Witchskull stand out from the pack in that they need nothing more than to show up armed with the truth of Marcus’ deep occult understanding. The lyrics on this album will offer a portal to the listener a trip into unseen realms, some of them with a uniquely Australian flavour.

Tony McMahon and Joel Green: Witchskull TVED recording session, Goatsound

For example, have you ever heard of Australian artist and pantheistic/ neopagan witchcraft practitioner Rosaleen Norton? She was known as the “Witch of Kings Cross” in the 1950’s and her biography “Pan’s Daughter” by Nevill Drury, is the also the title of one of the records strongest moments. Musically it seamlessly weaves Sabbath worship with a vivid narrative on her life doesn’t fall into a trap of a shallow Wikipedia article recounting her life.

Again, that’s because this is not fake lazy ass approximation. It is genuine, real, educated dancing in the moonlight celebration of the occult.

The evidence of this tangible relationship with the occult is revealed in multiple listens. You will not need them to “get it”, though you will almost certainly go down that path once you break the seal. 8 songs of dynamic, yet never laboured doom, because the doom here is less about the tempo here than the clearly delivered lyrics, but don’t confuse accessibility for weakness.

Witchskull are here to stay and this is as assured a debut as it gets from the criminally unknown Australian underground. Were these guys living in Europe, they’d be playing Roadburn and all the other major festivals in no time. This isn’t a biased call, the evidence lies in the facts that on release the album hit number 2 on the Doom Charts and the title track is earmarked on the third iteration of Metal Hammer magazines Sons of Sabbath compilation.

Not just an Australian album of the year contender, Witchskull's The Vast Electric Dark is as good as anything the genre has produced in 2015, and you need this now.

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Listen to Witchskull's album The Vast Electric Dark

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