BOOK REVIEW | "CHASING DEATH: THE IMPROBABLE HISTORY OF DEATH METAL & GRINDCORE" BY ALBERT MUDRIAN
photo & text by nacrowe
recently i finished reading this book CHASING DEATH: THE IMPROBABLY HISTORY OF DEATH METAL & GRINDCORE (BAZILLION POINTS, 2016) by DECIBEL MAGAZINE editor-in-chief ALBERT MUDRIAN. it very much gets into the weeds on how both these genres developed out of teenagers in the mid-80s who were looking for a more intense expression for their rage in the wake of the HARDCORE and THRASH METAL scenes in both the industrial midlands of britain and the eastern seaboard of the united states.
my impetus for exploring this genre was partly to provide context to a host of bands i've enjoyed over the years including PIG DESTROYER, NAPALM DEATH, CARCASS, DEATH, THE LOCUST, MORBID ANGEL, SUFFOCATION, CANNIBAL CORPSE, BOLT THROWER, GORGUTS, NILE, IMMOLATION, AUTOPSY among countless others.
what i didn't expect to find was the relative obscurity of bands that made a truly global impact due to the international tape-trading scene of that pre-internet age. case in point: DEEP WOUND from WESTER MASSACHUSETTS and the pre-DINOSAUR JR HARDCORE band of J MASCIS. despite their relatively minor status in the BOSTON HARDCORE scene of which they were on the periphery stylistically, socially and geographically, their music which was more intense, uptempo and chaotic made them a must-have for tape collectors seeking their next fix of more extreme music as far away as JAPAN, SWEDEN, HOLLAND, GERMANY and the UK. despite being a regional act, their influence abroad far outweighed their geographic limitations and proved to be influential in the scene. that cross-pollination of the HARDCORE, INDIE and extreme metal scenes wasn't something i was aware of but makes sense given that their supporters (AMERICAN college radio, JOHN PEEL at BBC1) were equally open-minded, even during this formative stage.
even the amount of label infrastructure that came about to support and profit from this burgeoning yet seemingly hopelessly unprofitable scene is staggering in its own right and has benefitted countless other extreme genres in its wake (and, er, NICKLEBACK). this includes most predominantly:
ROADRUNNER RECORDS (DEICIDE, OBITUARY, PESTILENCE, IMMOLATION, SEPULTURA)
CENTURY MEDIA (GRAVE, ASPHYX, ARCH ENEMY)
NUCLEAR BLAST (DISMEMBER, IN FLAMES)
EARACHE RECORDS (NAPALM DEATH, CARCASS, BOLT THROWER, MORBID ANGEL, TERRORIZER, BRUTAL TRUTH)
NECROSIS RECORDS (REPULSION, CARNAGE)
PEACEVILLE RECORDS (AUTOPSY, AT THE GATES, OPETH)
COMBAT RECORDS (DEATH, POSSESSED)
METAL BLADE RECORDS (CANNIBAL CORPSE)
RELAPSE RECORDS (AMORPHIS, NILE, ICANTATION, DYING FETUS, SUFFOCATION, PIG DESTROYER)
the book is definitely worth looking into if you are interested in getting a broad overview of the history of the scene. like any comprehensive book on a given genre, reading this has helped me rediscover stuff i hadn't thought of in a while and made me consider how diverse and complex fringe music can be.