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Various Artists – Grind Madness at the BBC

Earache

Grind Madness at the BBC

This takes me back. Sometimes innovations can be pinned down to very specific musical moments. In the same way that Eddie Van Halen‘s tapping on “Eruption” spawned a legion of followers, Mick Harris‘ death blasts on “Scum” set the pace and tone of metal drumming for decades to follow. Its hard to overstate the impact of “Scum” and late 80s UK hardcore. Suddenly everyone was listening to it (well maybe not the 80s pop dullards with their heads burried in the sand) because it was just so extreme. Napalm Death and E.N.T. records (yes records) cropped up in unlikely places like the collections of goths and indie kids, as well the collections metalheads and punks. It was hard not to admire hardcore’s aesthetics of extremity.

One of the many admirers was John Peel, which brings us to the current collection. Its hard to overstate Peel’s influence as well. Without the exposure he gave to hardcore the modern metal scene would be very different. I’d like to say they were the days. But they weren’t. Much like now, it was an era when rampant commercialism had a stranglehold over mainstream music. It was the 80s for gods sake. John Peel was a unique maverick who played what he liked … because he liked it … end of story. And at some point in John Peel’s wildly eclectic musical explorations he discovered hardcore and fell in love. This collection is the unique and unrepeatable result.

80s UK Hardcore is great. They don’t make em like that any more. So messy and ragged, but in the day so fucking fast. No one else played that fast. Thrash and death metal bands were more precise but played at pedestrian speeds by today’s standards. The artists on this album are the source of all the modern day blast beat music. Without it there wouldn’t have been any 90s Norwegian black metal with a ubiquitous blast beat in the back ground. They took a form that was short and fast, the US hardcore sound of Minor Threat et al, and made it much more extreme. They made it faster, much faster, much, much, much faster. Then they combined the short spikey hardcore sound with the brutal tones and cement mixer vocals of the emerging death metal sound. All done with a messy warts and all street punk ethos and an anarchist message delivered with all the anger and energy of Crass.

Its a very different metal-punk cross over to the US crossover hardcore of Dirty Rotten Imbeciles and Corrosion of Conformity. In the USA the short spikey straight edge type sound turned into something akin to Anthrax: mid-paced thrash with lots of breakdown mosh parts. The current offering from Earache is a great mix of various styles that were brutalising the hardcore scene. Carcass and Bolt Thrower are the most influenced by death metal, influenced in a sludgy dirty way. Napalm Death and Unseen Terror also take their cue from death metal, but add the intensity and speed of hardcore. Bands like Extreme Noise Terror, Heresy, and Intense Degree remain closer to the hardcore punk sound of the US and UK. ENT follow in the well trodden path of the pioneering UK hardcore band Discharge. In fact, back in the day a standard joke was a crusty punk falling backwards of stage holding a petrol can of scrumpy mumbling ENT Discharge. Yeah, I was on the metal side. I’m sure the punks had just as many metalhead jokes. Then there’s Godflesh – these tracks are real gems of their early sound: brutally slow and grinding stuff.

Essential listening. I love my thrash I really do. Oh, whirlwind holocaust…

-Alaric-

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