Grindcore shows are by far one of the most intense and neck breaking experiences a metalhead can put themselves through; more often than not leaving the attendee half deaf and nearly paralyzed after the unrelenting onslaught of blast beats and violent pitting. They are something I think any fan of metal, casual or die hard, should experience, especially if you are not too keen on or familiar with the particular sub genre.
Los Angeles is a great place to be if you’re a grind fan. Not only did So-Cal spawn some revered acts (Phobia, Despise You, Nails, etc.) but there is never a shortage of underground shows in intimate arenas to whet your proverbial axe.
Los Globos is a night club of sorts which, by the look of the decor/clientele, rarely houses grind shows. It’s got ’50s lounge written all over it; from the muted lantern-lighting to the wood paneled walls I felt like I was stepping into a noir penned by Raymond Chandler. Oddly enough, this atmosphere suited the evening quite well.
First up was Blackleg, an up-and-coming sludge/grind band with all the ferocity of Gaza and the subdued tendencies of ISIS. The three-piece seemed a little bit out of place on stage (the singer’s eyes were closed for the majority of the show and guitarist spent most of his time facing him) but their seeming insecurity lent an unflinching rawness to their performance, placing the audience in an uncomfortable yet entranced position, unable to take their eyes away from the ferocity of the band’s spectacle. It’s not unlike a relatively unknown band to turn away from the audience in their inaugural shows, hoping beyond hope that the (albeit small) group of spectators will welcome them with open arms, and I have to say that regardless of the band’s slight diffidence they nailed their performance front to back. Their music is messy and predatory, full of stop-start rhythms and wall to wall intensity that evokes actual emotion rather than just in your face aggressiveness, and it was that refreshing approach that had me enthralled throughout the entire set.
Following them was another underground band; straight-up grinders P.O.O.R. (Point Of Our Resistance). They had me at their first scathing blast, channeling Phobia with every ingratiating note that unfurled from their amps. These old school grind worshippers clearly know how it’s done, combining in your face potency with body-wracking groove that makes you want to break some faces. My only slight criticism is that there was nothing “new” in their sound, but that’s clearly not their goal. Good grind isn’t about being groundbreaking and shape-shifting, it’s about non-stop cerebral assault done so poignantly that you’re left begging for more. And they nailed it. If Murder Construct hadn’t absolutely killed it later on (more on that in a bit) these guys would have stolen the show. They were everything I love about grindcore and more.
After their set I had just enough time to grab another $7 whiskey/beer combo before gearing up for what I was hoping to be a stance-altering experience. You see, despite Bastard Noise‘s reviled status in the underground I have never been able to fully grasp or “get” what they do. Sure I can appreciate their eccentricities and I’m all for boundaries being shattered and expectations being thrown willy-nilly, but the combined electronic noise and sparse grind blasts of these So-Cal trend-setters have never quite clicked for me. And unfortunately, my opinion of the band was only more solidified after seeing them live. While I respect what they do immensely, and LOVE bass n’ drum grind, these guys seem to meander all to often into droning, unremarkable territory more often than not; always on the verge of something spectacular and never quite reaching their destination. Suffice it to say, I had a few more drinks and bought some merch while waiting them out.
And then there’s Murder Construct. Holy molten children of satan’s loins these guys fucking killed it! They came barreling out of the gate with the opening track off of their new album Results, “Red All Over”, and immediately had the crowd in fits. I can’t remember the last time I’ve moshed so hard my neck hurt for a week afterwards, but this show certainly left me needing a neck brace long after the last note reverberated through the venue. Being that the stage was so small, vocalist Travis Ryan spent the entire show intermingled with the crowd, bouncing uncontrollably from one person to the next, screaming his fucking guts out. Danny Walker‘s supremely on-point drumming showed us all once again why he’s a force to be reckoned with behind the kit, and watching him play was certainly the spectacle of the night. Not to mention guitarist Leon del Muerte‘s insanely serpentine riffs that defy rhythmic explanation invading and consequently raping the ear drums of everyone in ear shot (that’s to say about a half-mile radius of the venue). These guys are grind incarnate: showing the rest of us mere mortals how it’s done and why we’ll never hope to reach their level of comprehension and execution of a genre often bogged down by the tendency to rely on extremism rather than actual composition. They forsake nothing in their avant garde approach to the genre, leaving grind in the dust in their wake. It’s truly an experience seeing them live. One that I will take with me to my grave and beyond, tormenting the non-believers well into the afterlife.
In short, it’s shows like this that make me love going to shows. Not only did I get to see one of my favorite bands live, but I was introduced to some new talent that definitely deserves to be in the spotlight. Bands will come and go, and so will the shows they play, but if you ever have the chance to catch any of these bands live you’d be in for a serious treat.