The lure of goregrind

goregrind pig

Goregrind disturbs most people. The lurid and distasteful themes, nearly non-existent musicianship, and over-the-top extremity of the style all have a way of turning off even the most devoted metal fans. Most encounter goregrind in their formative years, and are suitably captivated by its disregard for human emotion in much the same way a callous child burns ants with a glass lens. But eventually this adolescent fascination makes place for more musically cultured, socially acceptable interests. Goregrind gets left behind like the simple friend from childhood who still arm farts his way through the national anthem while you occupy yourself with worldly matters. It is instructive to see musicians make mockery of this form. Not because they are necessarily wrong on the surface, but because they fail to grasp the correct perspective. Goregrind IS repetitive, obscene, and for the most part musically unskilled. But what truly disturbs most people about dark goregrind is that it brings them uncomfortably close with the real matter of animal life, all gooey slop of blood and viscera. No other form of musical entertainment so immerses its listeners in an active confrontation with what they really are at the most fundamental level, outward sophistication be damned. Our adult minds become reprogrammed to make light of teenage obsessions with the provocative, but there is a reason why the mind pushes the ugly truth to the background. A healthy life as the world deems it would be otherwise impossible.

Goregrind is dirty, rabid, nearly-music with no place for levity. Ideal goregrind consists of a base of rapid, almost-industrial drumming on which a groundwork of riffs –  metal in basic nature and tone but arranged like simple and repeating grind/punk – shift positions at tremendous speed. Themes revolve almost exclusively around the uglier facets of mortality, and at times around deviant sexuality. Vocals are pitch-shifted to impossible lows, resembling a feral beast more than any form of human intonation. Long intros, irritably so if one isn’t in the right mood, from horror movies, pornography, and snuff films, are par for the course in this style.

If that doesn’t sound like an appealing template, it is because it isn’t. Unlike violent horror movies that are a multi-sensual experience and can be done with some artistic nuance, goregrind is a single-minded, organic assault that leaves no room for dithering. As such it has a way of fixing one’s tolerance levels; even the extreme metal community, used to abrasive, semi-controversial songwriting, shies away from this unique, unglamorous perspective on underground metal offshoots. Ironic, too, because while the genre has gathered a fair schlock element over the years through the ill-advised attempts at humor of various European bands, true goregrind is relentlessly hounding and grim in nature, sharing a lot more with dark extreme music than is initially apparent. Other than a brief period in the late 90s, however, goregrind has never captured attention the way related styles like grindcore – more specifically modern grindcore as promoted by labels like Relapse – recently have, relying instead on a small core of amateur projects to keep the word alive. In an industry where taboos are trussed up as market products to become the next in “cool”, goregrind has nothing saleable going for it, and retains its underground spirit and freedom. Fans wouldn’t have it any other way either.

The following five albums are a good diving point for those interested in exploring the genre:

  1. Carcass – Reek Of Putrefaction
  2. Mortician – Hacked Up For Barbecue
  3. Dead Infection – A Chapter Of Accidents
  4. Last Days Of Humanity – Hymns Of Indigestible Suppuration
  5. Neuro-Visceral Exhumation – The Human Society Wants More Gore
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