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Development phase: Mid-1980s
Place of origin: UK and USA
Stylistic precursors
Hardcore punk , crustcore
Instruments typical of the genre
Electric guitarDrumsElectric bass
Important subgenres
Deathgrind , Porngrind , Goregrind , Cybergrind

Grindcore is a style of music that has its roots in hardcore punk and crustcore of the early 1980s. It originated almost simultaneously in Great Britain and the USA . The Grindcore scene is an underground culture, the DIY principle is widespread and only a few releases are made with major labels . Grindcore is mostly seen as a sub-genre of metal today.

In Grindcore, the classic line-up for rock music, drums , electric guitars and electric bass are used, the vocals are often alienated to the point of incomprehensibility. Electronic instruments such as drum computers have also been used since the 1990s . Typical of the music is the use of blast beats , which can reach speeds of 180 bpm and more. The English drummer Mick Harris is considered the founder of the genre designation, but not for the genre itself . The lyrics were initially mostly socially critical and politically left - wing . Over time, subgenres developed which expanded the thematic spectrum to include pornographic texts and texts based on Gore and Splatter films .



Victories at the Battle of the Bands (1984)

Grindcore has its roots in the hardcore punk of the early 1980s. The basis was the endeavor of young music groups to further extremeise the music. Mostly founded as punk bands, they took the beat of the music to extremes that had never been played before. This was accompanied by the use of guttural singing . Groups like Siege or Repulsion were founded in the USA, and pioneering bands like Heresy , Ripcord and Concrete Sox emerged in Great Britain . All of these groups were stylistically assigned to hardcore punk or crustcore. The musicians were in constant correspondence with each other, demo recordings were exchanged through tape trading, the shipping of music cassettes .

An essential impulse came from Birmingham , where Napalm Death and their drummer Mick Harris were active. At the end of 1985 the local scene concentrated on the punk club Mermaid Pub , where concerts of the new generation of hardcore punk bands took place regularly. One of the organizers of these performances was Digby Pearson , who later became the founder of Earache Records . In the meantime, the term blastbeat had become established for drumming, with which the high clock speeds of 180 bpm and more were achieved . At the end of 1985, Mick Harris first used Grindcore as a name for the newly emerging style of music. With grind (German: 'to crush') he characterized the bass sound of the 1984 album Cop by Swans , the component core marks the roots of this style in hardcore punk.

Commercial win

John Peel in the BBC studio

The heyday of grindcore began in the mid-1980s. Other new groups emerged, which had a significant influence on the development of the genre. These included Extreme Noise Terror , Unseen Terror and Carcass in Great Britain , Cryptic Slaughter , Terrorizer , Disrupt and Nausea in the USA and SOB in Japan . Grindcore bands were also formed on mainland Europe. These included Agathocles in Belgium , Lärm in the Netherlands , Cripple Bastards in Italy , Fear of God in Switzerland and Filthy Christians in Sweden . However, the scenes outside of Great Britain could not develop in a concentrated manner because of their regional fragmentation. Although the American band Repulsion (at that time still under the name Genocide) recorded their first professional demo The Stench of Burning Death in Flint in January 1986 , which earned them the reputation of "the fastest band in the world", but the group was able to defy very good reception within the grindcore scene. In Great Britain, on the other hand, independent labels such as Earache Records , Peaceville Records and Manic Ears Records emerged , which released the albums of the Grindcore bands and made them accessible to a wide audience. For the label founders such as Digby Pearson from Earache, setting up a business was a way out of social welfare, since in addition to the start-up support, money was also paid by the state during the start-up phase.

The Napalm Death debut album Scum , released by Earache Records in June 1987 , is considered the start of the Grindcore wave. It sold over 10,000 copies in the first week alone, climbed to number seven in the UK indie charts and contained the shortest piece of music ever recorded with You Suffer, which was barely a second long . The British radio presenter and DJ John Peel is considered one of the fathers of this success , who in his broadcast on BBC Radio 1 granted airplay to the releases of the grindcore bands , invited the groups to the Peel sessions and also played these live recordings on his broadcast. For him, Grindcore was “the return to extreme punk” and “a step into undeveloped territory beyond all extreme music that has been heard before”.

In the late 1980s, the grindcore and death metal scenes began to mix . The influences from metal were initially based on the fact that musicians from metal bands became members of grindcore bands or founded grindcore bands themselves and thus brought their musical influences from this musical direction. The debut album by the English death metal band Bolt Thrower In Battle There Is No Law is still assigned to grindcore. Another reason for mixing the styles was the endeavor of existing grindcore bands such as Napalm Death or Carcass to incorporate elements from other styles into their music. This led to the release of pure death metal albums such as Harmony Corruption (1990, Napalm Death) or Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious (1991, Carcass) in the early 1990s . These albums marked the breakthrough in commercial terms for the music groups concerned, for example Napalm Death sold a total of around 367,000 albums between 1991 and 2003 and Carcass around 220,000 albums.

Fragmentation of the scene

In England in particular, the scene was divided in the late 1980s and early 1990s. After Ian Glasper, the successful bands became arrogant and the less successful bands didn't allow them to succeed. As a result of these conflicts within the scene there was a fragmentation, which was favored by the rivalry between the groups. For John Peel, the influences from metal displaced the “indomitable” and the “wild arrogance” from music; the genre had split up into a multitude of subgenres and thus became “completely opaque” as a result. Albert Mudrian sees the decline of the grindcore scene in the early 1990s in direct connection with the commercial successes of the death metal scene, which overtook grindcore.

Fans from extreme metal also criticized the development. Despite its typical Death Metal sound , Harmony Corruption was not accepted as Death Metal by some Metal fans because the lyrics on the album were still socially critical and thus did not serve the clichés typical for this genre of music. On the other hand, the Grindcore bands had entered the mainstream through contracts with major labels such as Columbia Records , but were not accepted by the latter. As a result, this type of music was unsuitable for a large audience, and the underground also turned away from the affected groups.

Eventually the scene was divided into a part that saw itself in the tradition of hardcore punk of the 1980s, and a part that opened up to the influences of extreme metal. The traditional branch of grindcore bands declined to be assigned to this genre. Phil Vane, singer of Extreme Noise Terror, expressed his aversion to extreme metal and described the traditional part of the scene not as grindcore, but as hardcore punk or crustcore. This fragmentation led to the fact that the part influenced by Metal came into focus, which is why Grindcore has been viewed exclusively as a subgenre of Metal since then.

From around the mid-1990s, the first wave of death metal was over, which had an impact on the further development of grindcore. Bands like Carcass lost their record deal and broke up, Napalm Death released Diatribes, the last album in 1996 , which can be considered commercially successful due to the chart positions. It wasn't until 2006 that they managed to hit the album charts with a release. In addition, well-known musicians left the grindcore scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s: Justin K. Broadrick concentrated on the industrial metal band Godflesh from 1989 , Lee Dorrian founded the doom metal band Cathedral in 1990 , Mick Harris concentrated from 1992 with his project Scorn exclusively on industrial and electronic music and Nicholas Bullen turned his back on music entirely in the mid-1990s.

Reorganization and rebirth

Japanese Combat Radio Play (Live, 2004)
Rotten Sound (Live, 2008)

While the grindcore scene fell apart in England, it was rearranged in other regions. Albert Mudrian mentions the “rebirth of grindcore” as the year 1998, when the debut albums by Swedes Nasum and the Americans Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Pig Destroyer were released. In particular, the groups from the USA, to which Soilent Green belonged, were rooted in metal, but also opened up to influences from other genres such as jazz and stoner rock . The Locust group, also from the USA, uses keyboards and performs with green hot pants and net masks. These non-genre elements and the extraordinary appearance are no longer seen by other musicians as pure grindcore, but as an important further development of the genre.

The Grindcore scene also continued to develop in Europe. In Germany in the mid-1990s, GUT and Dead founded the sub-genre Porngrind with their combination of grindcore and texts with pornographic content , and deathgrind groups such as Japanese combat radio games or Nyctophobic were founded . A fairly active scene developed in Scandinavia, whose important representatives in Sweden included the deathgrind band Nasum, the Goregrind bands General Surgery and Regurgitate, and Rotten Sound in Finland .

In the 2000s, numerous important genre bands such as the Swiss Fear of God (2003) and the German GUT (2006) reformed, Grindcore releases reached the official album charts again for the first time. Grindcore bands were particularly successful in Finland, with Rotten Sound's 2006 and 2008 albums reaching # 22 and # 12 on the Finnish album charts. In 2009, the Washington Post magazine featured Pig Destroyer in a cover story.

Outside of Europe, the USA and Japan, numerous local scenes were created in the course of the rebirth of grindcore. In South Africa , a small scene formed in the late 1990s that consisted exclusively of musicians with white skin. Although this is not an expression of racism, since the fan base consists of both blacks and whites, Shukri Adams, guitarist of the South African grindcore band Cauterized , claims to be the only dark-skinned musician in this scene in South Africa. In Southeast Asia, Wormrot from Singapore in particular made it nationally known after the band was signed by Earache Records in 2010. Other well-known representatives include Hellterror and Haq'kh Tuih Haha in Malaysia , Bangsat and Extreme Hate in Indonesia . Various grindcore bands also emerged in Latin America , which, like their colleagues in Southeast Asia, are deeply rooted underground, the Mexican band Paracoccidioidomicosisproctitissarcomucosis is one of the better-known representatives .



Seth Putnam from Anal Cunt

Grindcore in the mid-1980s was characterized by amateurism , as most musicians had no training on their instruments. The songs were very short, often under a minute, the music characterized by extremely fast drumming, simple and just as fast guitar riffs and a heavily distorted bass. The singing was deep and rough and can be assigned to screaming or shouting . With their precise guitar playing and the use of guitar solos , the group Carcass gave Grindcore a new musical impetus with their 1988 debut album Reek of Putrefaction . The influences from Death Metal gave rise to the Deathgrind subgenre and pioneer bands such as Napalm Death and Carcass made a musical change towards pure Death Metal. Various bands that also moved away from the original Grindcore scene took on influences from avant-garde jazz and noise . This is how the fusion project Naked City came about in 1989 around saxophonist John Zorn , which featured a mixture of jazz, rock music and grindcore on his 1990 album Torture Garden . John Zorn developed this merger together with Bill Laswell and Mick Harris from 1991 onwards with Painkiller by adding electronic elements to the mix of different musical styles. Other groups adapted influences from industrial , OLD , for example, developed into an industrial metal band that was more interested in early industrial . The Swiss grindcore band 16-17 , sponsored by Apple Computer and using saxophones instead of guitars, is seen as an expression of the postmodern currents within the genre .

While some of the Grindcore bands left the genre by using elements and instruments from other musical styles, new bands emerged that satirized the scene to a certain extent with ever faster beats. Groups like Seven Minutes of Nausea , Sore Throat and Anal Cunt increased the speed so much that the song boundaries were lifted. The first two tracks of Anal Cunt's debut Everyone Should Be Killed are simply overwritten as Some Songs and Some More Songs .

Texts and artworks

At the beginning of the grindcore scene the lyrics were strongly anarchist inspired ideas, paired with "strict left antifascist < correctness >". In addition, the bands adopted an aesthetic that was reminiscent of early industrial . Their collage technique played a major role in the design of the artwork . While Carcass medical curiosities, open wounds and surgery photos combined into a larger whole, Napalm Death was on the cover to Scum politicians who are on a skull pile, in the company logo as the McDonald's - M or the writing of IBM can be seen. The death aesthetic of these two artworks "showed the decay with a certain fascination without [...] tipping over into transfiguration". The design of the record covers was the subject of a police measure at the beginning of 1991, during which the premises of Earache Records were searched and sound carriers and promotional material were confiscated. The proceedings were discontinued after around nine months without a sanction.

With the introduction of death metal elements into the basic musical structure and the imitation of Carcass artwork on a fantasy and splatter film level, the grindcore scene lost its ability to express itself politically. Instead, gore and splatter texts were now the focus of bands such as Regurgitate and General Surgery , which laid the foundation for the sub-genre Goregrind . In contrast to the brutal, violent lyrics of Death Metal, there is little emphasis on realism in Grindcore. Rather, black humor is in the foreground in Grindcore, which does not stop at taboo topics and relies on a shock effect. But it is precisely such texts that are rejected by the representatives of the more punk-influenced Grindcore. The rather humorous bands took on exaggerated, poorly drawn cover artwork with violent fantasies, extreme sexual depictions or humorous drawings on a toddler level. Bands with political texts took on more serious artworks, often based on early Napalm Death, Discharge or Extreme Noise Terror, for example real photos of executions or cruelty to animals, collages or caricatures.


The early grindcore scene was anti-capitalist and adopted the DIY system that was characteristic of early hardcore punk. Small independent labels sprang up right at the beginning . Demos and self-published singles were also common. The Grindcore boom in the 1980s was accompanied by a loss of importance. The first bands to release their records on Earache Records, particularly Extreme Noise Terror, were confronted with sell-out allegations while on tour. Bands like Anal Cunt , who had earned an uncompromising reputation for their extremely fast early 7 '' EPs, ironized this development with song titles like I'm Not Allowed to Like AC Anymore Since They Signed to Earache or Selling Out by Having Song Titles on This Album .

During the successful phase, the previously strictly left stance tipped over. Left-wing bands such as Agathocles and bands from the crust-punk environment, which were musically close to grindcore, were spread over numerous small to very small labels. Newer bands with left ideology were now deeply rooted in the underground and paved the way for an apolitical music culture. This caused the grindcore scene to split in the 1990s. The result was a political part, deeply rooted in the anarchist and left-wing extremist environment , which can be counted as hardcore punk , and a part that is more interested in fun and brutality (musically and lyrically), which is more likely to be assigned to the metal environment. However, this is not welcomed by all bands. For example, Cripple Bastards from Italy propagate a cohesion of the entire Grindcore scene. Other bands like Unholy Grave and Agathocles played split releases with metal bands. Albert Mudrian describes today's scene as solid and a healthy mix of progressive and traditional elements. He still sees Grindcore as underground music, but points out that this music had a significant influence on the mainstream and names popular metal bands like Slipknot and Lamb of God .

Occasionally, bands from the Goregrind and Porngrind sectors are accused by the hardcore scene of not being “ politically correct ”. There were rumors that certain bands were covertly right-wing extremists. One of the bands affected was Last Days of Humanity , suspected of being right-wing extremists after a right-wing extremist was spotted wearing one of their t-shirts. Anal Cunt's Seth Putnam was a temporary member of the right-wing extremist band Vaginal Jesus , his band Anal Cunt worked with the right-wing extremist thrash metal / hatecore bands Mudoven, Vaginal Jesus and The Raunchous Brothers (on the album Fuckin'A ). The Powerviolence band from Flensburg released their compilation Area Conflagration: German Hardcore 1993-2003 on the Bloody Core Records label, an offshoot of the right-wing extremist label Bloody Creed Records , which made the album available to right-wing extremist mail order companies. Right-wing extremist tendencies and attitudes are generally not common in grindcore and should be viewed as isolated cases.


The Electro-Grinder The Locust (Live, December 2005)
Corrosion of Conformity, Pioneer of Powerviolence (Live, 1986)

In addition to the established sub-genres Deathgrind, Porngrind and Goregrind, there were and still are other movements in Grindcore that either cannot be viewed as an independent sub-genre or cannot be assigned exclusively to Grindcore.


Deathgrind is not so much a precisely defined genre as it is a description for Death Metal bands that increasingly deal with Grindcore influences, which, however, differ from band to band. According to Dan Lilker ( Brutal Truth ), Deathgrind is a "mix of the technical side of Death Metal and the intensity of Grindcore" Examples are Cattle Decapitation , newer Napalm Death and Carcass in their middle phase (around the time of Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious ) .

Porngrind / Goregrind

The two subgenres are mainly defined by the lyrics. The Goregrind are mostly splatter texts based on horror films or medical texts derived from Carcass. Another characteristic is the frequent use of horror film samples and musically a stronger connection to death metal. The boundary to Porngrind is fluid. Here texts, artwork and samples concentrate on porn films, whereby groups like Cliteater and GUT can be assigned to both genres.

Electro / Cybergrind

Typical of the electro or cyber grind is the use of electronic aids such as keyboards, samples and drum computers. Sometimes elements from electronic styles flow into the music, especially hardcore techno . The Berzerker , Genghis Tron , The Locust, Nunwhore Commando666 and Libido Airbag are among the most important genre representatives .


Powerviolence , more rarely also called Power Violence , emerged as an independent style around 1986 in the United States and goes back to the hardcore punk band Infest . The music style combines the US hardcore punk style with crustcore in the style of Siege and early Corrosion of Conformity . Powerviolence often reaches the speed of grindcore, but dispenses with metal influences and is more experimentally oriented.


Especially in the early days, the grindcore scene was welcomed by the established press. In particular, the well-known radio presenter and DJ John Peel made Napalm Death and Carcass known. A number of unknown bands were allowed to participate in his peel sessions , which were broadcast live on the BBC radio program. The well-known British music magazine NME published a cover story about napalm death in its November 1988 issue , while the US magazine Spin reported in 1991 on the music and its origins in detail. Participation in the prestigious TV show Top of the Pops failed because the musicians and those responsible could not agree on the framework. The music channel MTV, on the other hand, regularly showed the music videos of English grindcore bands, in particular Napalm Death , in its program Headbangers Ball . In 1992 Extreme Noise Terror appeared at the Brit Awards at the invitation of the music group The KLF , where they performed their version of the KLF hit 3a.m. Eternal played. The KLF staged their temporary dissolution at the same time.

In the 1990s, many critics distanced themselves from grindcore. There are no longer any major developments in the genre, so the positive view is often only focused on the humorous aspect. Well-known scene representatives such as Scott Hull (Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Pig Destroyer) described the self-imposed limits, especially with regard to the instrumentation, as an obstacle to the further development of the genre, because the use of electronic aids such as drum computers and keyboards "is no longer Grindcore" and so far every trend within the genre inevitably lead to metal.


Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h Mudrian: A Brief History of Grindcore .
  2. Kory Grow: Slaves to the Grind . The Making of Napalm Death's 'Scum'. In: Albert Mudrian (Ed.): Precious Metal . Decibel presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces. Da Capo Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-306-81806-6 , pp. 61 .
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  4. ^ Mudrian: Choosing Death , p. 47.
  5. ^ Mudrian: Choosing Death , p. 140.
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  17. Ian Christe : Hell Noise , p. 273.
  18. ^ A b Natalie J. Purcell: Death Metal Music. The Passion and Politics of a Subculture . McFarland, 2003, ISBN 978-0-7864-1585-4 , pp. 21 .
  19. a b Martin Büsser : If the Kids Are United. From punk to hardcore and back . 2006, p. 77 .
  20. a b Miss Direction: Death on Arrival . In: Testcard. Contributions to pop history . No. 1 . Ventil Verlag, Mainz 1995, ISBN 3-931555-00-3 , p. 147 .
  21. Ian Christe: Hell-Noise. The complete, ruthless, unique history of heavy metal . Verlagsgruppe Koch / Hannibal, Höfen, ISBN 3-85445-241-1 , p. 264 .
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  23. a b c Martin Büsser: If the Kids Are United. From punk to hardcore and back . 2006, p. 69 .
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This article was added to the list of articles worth reading on June 10, 2011 in this version .