No new Napalm Death, Pig Destroyer or Cattle Decapitation? No problem. This year’s haul mixed old school ethics with 21st century innovation, and with a clutch of thrilling debuts now in the racks, it was an exciting year for grindcore and powerviolence.
So prepare for blast-off, as we reveal our ten best grindcore albums of 2021.
10. Desalmado – Mass Mental Devolution (Gruesome Records)
A riot of a record inspired by Napalm Death and Brutal Truth, Mass Mental Devolution struck like a petrol bomb back in October.
The Brazilian outfit landed blow after blow of precision grind, with baton round riffs pumping out of Unity and Across The Land.
But Desalmado also sprayed a cloud of cold, spine-chilling dread across their latest effort… one that took this opus well beyond mere blast fodder.
9. Lock Up – The Dregs Of Hades (Listenable Records)
The Dregs Of Hades didn’t match the infernal velocity of Pleasures Pave Sewers or Hate Breeds Suffering.
But Lock Up’s fifth album was still a reminder of this supergroup’s potency.
After departing in 2014, Tomas ‘Tompa’ Lindberg returned to the fold to form a vicious vocal attack with former Brutal Truth frontman Kevin Sharp.
Backed by Criminal’s Anton Reisenegger, Napalm Death legend Shane Embury and Pig Destroyer/Misery Index drummer Adam Jarvis, the duo spat and howled their way through a record of annihilating deathgrind.
Dark Force Of Conviction was the pick of the bunch… but the intriguing, slow burning closer, Crucifixion of Distorted Existence ran it a close second.
8. Socioclast – Socioclast (Carbonized Records)
With their debut album, Californian trio Socioclast didn’t stray very far from grindcore’s roots.
And that was no bad thing.
Reminiscent of Repulsion and early Bolt Thrower (check out Eden’s Tongue if you want the evidence), Socioclast was a hefty kick in the guts.
And it also had the gnarliest bass tone we’ve heard since BT’s Jo Bench entered the Realm Of Chaos…
7. Pupil Slicer – Mirrors (Prosthetic Records)
A volatile mix of grindcore, powerviolence and jarring mathcore, Mirrors was an astonishing debut from UK trio Pupil Slicer.
Indeed, Kate Davies, Josh Andrews and Luke Fabian didn’t hold back on their first album.
Angular rhythms, jabbing fretwork and haywire vocals all made Mirrors a shattering experience, physically and mentally.
But it was truly cathartic extreme music – for both artist and audience.
6. Narakah – Blast Haven (Self-released)
Want eviscerating grindcore that spews riffs all over the squat?
Pittsburgh crew Narakah are your guys.
With nuke strikes such as Beretta and Black Guard, the quartet could give the mighty Pig Destroyer a run for their money.
And in Samurai Dreams, Narakah conjured up one of the finest grind tracks of 2021.
5. Full Of Hell – Garden Of Burning Apparitions (Relapse)
One of the most exciting acts in extreme music returned with a typically chaotic sonic barrage.
Full Of Hell’s ability to harness total carnage – and bend it to their will – is simply startling.
And yet again, they brought us a feast for the senses, wrapped up in corrosive noise and unhindered by genre straightjackets.
From the disorientating Industrial Messiah Complex to the riff storms of Guided Blight, Garden Of Burning Apparitions was testament to the US quartet’s creative ambition.
There is no other band like them.
4. Regional Justice Center – Crime and Punishment (Closed Casket Activities)
Lurching riffs, staccato blasts, blaring feedback and a whole heap of rage.
Yep, Regional Justice Center were in imperious form on the 13-minute Crime and Punishment.
The Seattle crew have been building their reputation in the powerviolence and HC scenes since their demo erupted back in 2017.
But this vein-burster of an album moved the band up a level.
And they made every second count.
3. Gravesend – Methods Of Human Disposal (20 Buck Spin)
New Yorkers Gravesend scraped every bit of dirt from the Big Apple’s streets and hurled it into this nightmare of chaos black metal and dystopian grindcore.
There was nowhere to hide as Ashen Piles Of The Incinerated, Needle Park and Absolute Filth came crashing into your consciousness, and then set about it with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire.
Methods Of Human Disposal was grim urban warfare set to music.
2. Kill The Con Man – Operation Just Cause (Riot Ready Records)
Kill The Con Man practically foamed at the mouth as they hurled anti-system anthems like Enemy Of My Enemy and We See You (ACAB) over the barricades.
But the LA trio aren’t just a whirlwind of blind rage.
Operation Just Cause brought taught, sinewy riffing and jaw-dropping dynamics to the grind party, as well as calls for unity in the face of oppression. “We pick up everyone, it’s where we all belong” roared Wesley Richards on Pit Rules, the album’s stirring opener. And it framed the album as a cry of resistance from the strife-torn USA.
1. Knoll – Interstice (Self-released)
The debut of the 2021 anyone?
Armed with three guitars and a canister of corrosive power electronics, Knoll (pictured top) emerged from the backstreets of Memphis to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting grind scene.
Akin to Nails in their immediate impact and brutal delivery, this young six-piece became a must-see in the US underground.
And with songs as fierce, uncompromising and downright hard as Gracian Axion, it’s no surprise they pulled both hardcore kids and death metallers into their violent vortex.
You can also see who made our best grindcore albums of 2020 list here.