15 Essential Grindcore Releases From 2022 So Far
The world seems to be in a constant process of acceleration. More people, more information, more ideas, more complications. Keeping up with all these machinations and permutations is an impossible task, try as we might. It can be a thrilling, maddening, and exhausting experience.
Grindcore understands these anxieties. Born as a reaction to a world careening out of control, it sought to mirror this dangerous accelerationism while providing a moral conscience. The genre has expanded beyond its original boundaries, but notions of open-mindedness and freedom still dominate even the more abstract and violent proponents of the style.
2022 has seen some quite brilliant releases from within the grindcore genre. Hailing from numerous different countries, the fifteen bands included in this list all fall somewhere between the traditionalist and experimental ends of the genre spectrum. Some dip into adjacent styles like powerviolence and death metal, others stick firmly within recognised parameters while others dissolve these boundaries almost completely.
Wormrot – Hiss
Wormrot have deservedly become one of the 21st century’s most respected grind acts. Their fourth album Hiss sees the Singapore band thrillingly expand on their already immaculately-sculpted craft. Bolstered by brittle production, the 11-second “Unrecognizable” and the chaotic “Doomsayer” enact the genre’s usual whirlwind traits with fearsome brilliance. However, it’s the shifts in mood and texture on tracks like “Sea Of Disease”, “Seizures” and “Grieve” that make Hiss a true masterclass. Heavy-as-hell and possessing a keen sense of artistry, the album places Wormrot within the company of such art-grind masters as Fuck The Facts and Nasum. A highlight of the year in metal, regardless of subgenres.
No/Más – Consume / Deny / Repent
Closed Casket Activities
Released on the consistently-steller Closed Casket Activities label, D.C.'s No/Más have come up with an absolute barnstormer of a second album. An incendiary combination that flirts with D-beat and death metal alongside its razor-sharp grind, Consume / Deny / Repent’s relentless fifteen tracks never once deviate from their steely-eyed purpose. Highlights include whirlwind opener “Manipulate/Consume”, the light-speed hardcore of “Police Brutality” and the monstrous breakdown that closes out “Interrogation”. It’s a gimmick-free, pared-down exercise in grindcore at its throat-grabbing, moralistic best.
Human Cull – To Weep for Unconquered Worlds
7 Degrees Records
The second album from Bristol, UK act Human Cull errs close to grind’s traditions, but also packs a distinctly chaotic punch. These twenty tracks are truly explosive - a detonation of crashing cymbals, neck-snapping tempos and disorienting, house of mirrors-like structures. While the instrumentation is uniformly excellent, guitarist Edd Robinson’s riffs deserve special praise. The bold opening to “Litanies of the Foresaken” shifts from either end of the fretboard with unpredictable fervor while “Habeaus Corpus” features a crazed micro-riff that appears and disappears as if via the quantum realm. The whole album is of the year’s best examples of grindcore’s ‘epics in miniature’ aesthetic.
Coffin Nail – Years of Lead
Voice And Filth Records
Grindcore is inherently confrontational. Even for the most hardened extreme music fan, quality grind should still have the ability to knock the listener sideways with its ferocity and intensity. Coffin Nail pull this off and then some. The Floridian one-man project has released three albums in as many years, each of which has somehow managed to up the extreme ante of the previous. Years of Lead’s nine tracks utilize gargled vocals, omnipresent blast beats and sandpaper-textured guitars in its goal to fuse grind with that most uncompromising of metal subgenres - war metal. For those who can tune into its cacophonous wavelength, ample rewards are waiting to be reaped.
Backslider – Psychic Rot
To Live A Lie Records
Backslider are genre traditionalists, but their willingness to shift between sounds adds an air of unpredictability to their simplistic approach. A sludgy take on powerviolence, Psychic Rot is a muscular set of gleefully-fun anthems that eschews social commentary in favor of lyrics that tilt between psychological torment and all sorts of more corporeal nastiness. Musically, the down-tuned murkiness draws on usual suspects Weekend Nachos and Magrudergrind but also more expansive fare such as Today Is The Day and underrated sludgecore act -16-. This pervasive air of oozing loathsomeness makes Psychic Rot a delightfully illicit pleasure.
Narakah – Nemesis Cloak
Force Of Reckoning Records
There’s just not enough conceptual sci-fi grindcore. Following last year’s excellent Blast Haven comes the latest epic from Pittsburgh’s Narakah. Nemesis Cloak is a mind-blowing multimedia mashup comprised of dense samples, references to movies, games and comics and, of course, visceral grind. Narakah draw on the lineage of conceptual grinders such as Discordance Axis and Pig Destroyer to create this unique work of postmodern extremity. It’s a compelling creation, smartly organized so it never feels too challenging or uncompromising. Highlights “The Color Of Illusion” and “Through Incendiary Tropics” are relentless grind perfection, and just one mutation of the many marvels awaiting within Nemesis Cloak.
Knoll - Metempheric
Knoll are the young darlings of the grind scene, hailed by some as successors to beloved grind/noise act Full Of Hell. The Memphis-based six-piece are certainly not lacking in ambition. Their second full-length Metempheric ups the abrasive ante on last year’s Interstice, journeying deeper down into the band’s hellish musical labyrinth. In contrast to Interstice’s cryptic mania, Metempheric’s thirteen tracks are impressively focused. The hellish squeals of brass onto “Tether and Swine” and the creative riffs of “Felled Plume” and “Marred Alb” are just a few high points of this second successive gauntlet thrown down by the enfant terribles of the genre.
Pharmacist – Flourishing Extremities on Unspoiled Mental Grounds
Bizarre Leprous Productions
From the outside, it might look like Pharmacist are a straight-up goregrind band. The artwork for Flourishing Extremities on Unspoiled Mental Grounds is fleshy and corporeal, as are track titles such as “Necromorph” and “Accelerating Suppuration”. While their aesthetic and sonic palette err close to genre godfathers Carcass, Pharmacist are more than just mere imitators. The Japanese band layer smartly-placed atmospherics and changes of pace atop the relentless riffs and ostentatious solos. A no-frills production style strips flesh from these eight track’s bones, leaving in its place a hugely entertaining exercise in classic deathgrind.
Helpless – Caged In Gold
Church Road Records
Channeling math/grind fusions of the 00s (think Ed Gein, Gaza, The Secret etc.) Helpless’ second full-length Caged In Gold is a muscular and mean-spirited assault on the senses. The Plymouth, UK act use every trick in the book to push the boundaries of extremity - check out the anthemic carnage of “The Empty Gesture”, the chaotic “Unseen Servant” and the cavernous horrors of closer “The Great Silence”. A nihilistic and electrifying thrill ride, Helpless play fast and loose with grindcore’s genre parameters. This allows for some transcendent moments, however the tracks that engage in full grind carnage, such as “Unseen Servent” and “Suppression,” are especially memorable cuts of rapid-fire brutality.
Days Of Desolation - Circles
Perhaps the best example of grindcore’s socio-political conscience released so far this year - Belgium’s Days Of Desolation have crafted a soulful, elegiac work that serves as a potent reminder of the genre’s incendiary nature. Circle’s thematics are radical and hopeful, eviscerating the ills of this world and determined to build a better one. Epitomized by the closing sample of “Autumn”, which features Dutch activist Rutger Bregman giving a speech about humanity’s capacity to create a better future, Circles’ cathartic style of brittle grind feels weighty and meaningful. There’s a melancholic tone beneath even the fastest and harshest tracks that adds a layer of depth to this album, one that leaves a unique bruise.
Shapeshifter - Dark Ritual
Japan never fails to produce intriguingly-warped versions of grindcore. Shapeshifter’s Dark Ritual is a jagged and rickety take on the genre rife with eccentric invention and rough edges. The band’s second album features abrasive noise (“Mind Twist”), monstrous bass tones (“Hereditary”) and earth-shaking riffs (“Abortive Flower”). The production possesses limited finesse or polish, opting instead for DIY-style invention defined by a loose construction and layers of viscous distortion. Highlights like the punky “Black Liquid” and the unpredictable “Rust” experiment with different colors and tones, displaying the layers of complexity buried beneath Shapeshifter’s unsteady exterior.
Whoresnation – Dearth
Like the torch-bearing beast that adorns its expressive cover art, the music contained within Dearth is immense, all-encompassing and hideously alluring. Whorsenation’s second album is a true monstrosity. Incomprehensible gutturals, frantic riffs and a violently-cranked snare drum combine to make Dearth a riveting slab of familiar but expertly-executed grind. The blink-and-you’ll miss them shifts in song structures are pulled-off by a rhythm section operating in total synchronicity, while swaggering mosh sections in the second half of “Pajarito” and the middle of “Sewage Breath” make for vital pauses amidst the murky carnage. A punishing cut of muscular grind that runs through the genre’s playbook with gleeful abandon.
Black Matter Device – Autonomous Weapons
The second album on this list that takes explicit influence from 00’s math grind, Richmond’s Black Matter Device draw the scene’s more manic acts such as Destroyer Destroyer, Tower Of Rome, and Me And Him Call It Us. This chaotic style is mirrored by Autonomous Weapons’ inventive cover art and sets its creators apart as a uniquely challenging prospect. These fourteen tracks are about as contorted, frenzied and demanding as grindcore comes. They are also, on occasion, somewhat exhausting. However when it succeeds, such as the savage micro epic “Jay Dino Dies” and the fearsome closer “Gender Mountain”, Autonomous Weapons triumphs as a unique work of demented vision and riotous energy.
APES - Lullabies for Eternal Sleep
Translation Loss Records
The only EP included in this list, what Lullabies For Eternal Sleep lacks in scale it more than makes up for in heft. The Quebec six-piece make an apocalyptic clamor, using their triple-guitar attack to maximum, bone-shaking effect. These four tracks tilt between viscous and cavernous, shifting from doom-leaden brutality to light-speed grind. APES’ possess sharp songwriting skills, each track takes compelling turns and progresses with a smoothness that belies the weight of their construction. Opener “Cornwall” is especially ferocious - a relentless swathe of varying blast beats that culminates in a breakdown that feels properly earned.
Homeskin – Life’s Wishes To Tears
Last but most certainly not least is Life’s Wishes To Tears by Homeskin. Just one of the many projects headed by the hyper-productive Texan Garry Brent, Life’s Wishes To Tears is one of multiple 2022 releases that he’s released under the Homeskin name. This album is the one featured here because it’s the most full-bodied and singular of the bunch - an avant-garde and futuristic vision of grindcore that collapses the genre’s boundaries. Tracks like “Peel My Flesh Again” and “Dripping Chalice” crank up the tempo and intensity, however even these more relentless moments are imbued with a palpable air of dreamy impressionism. A unique and progressive take on this surprisingly malleable genre.