Follow TV Tropes



Go To

Primary Stylistic Influences:

Secondary Stylistic Influences:

"If you arrive ten minutes late at a doom metal show, you haven't even missed the first song. If you arrive ten minutes late at a Grindcore show, you missed the first four bands."
— Popular metalhead joke

Grindcore, often shortened to "grind", is what you get when you take hardcore, thrashcore, and crust punk and mix them with the spirit of noise and power electronics. Short, brutal, and apparently a joke to begin with.

While there are some examples of bands playing an early form of the genre in the early eighties, grind really started in the late eighties in the UK, Japan, and the US, when the crust punk band Napalm Death decided to take their already pretty extreme music to a new level. Combining their music with extreme metal, they created a new subgenre of both punk and metal. The term "grindcore" reportedly came from Napalm Death's drummer Mick Harris describing a Swans album to a friend.

The genre is characterized by incredibly short songs (songs lasting under a minute aren't unusual, and the barely-over-one-second song is a staple of the genre, first pioneered by Napalm Death with their song "You Suffer"), growled vocals akin to Death Metal mixed with thrashcore shouts and shrieks, a chaotic, stripped-down but still very heavy sound, fast drumming, and an overall simplicity in everything: time signatures, three-chords-by-song, no chorus, or so. Later bands, particularly in the 2000s (like the Swedish band Nasum), added a whole new level of musicianship to the genre. The lyrical content of grindcore is faithful to its punk roots and is usually about political and social content, although being as a genre highly prone to mutation and fusion, it can be about virtually anything.


The principal characteristic of grind music is its intense density: everything is pushed to the extreme, so much that on first listening it can be difficult to discern what is happening, and it sounds just like a wall of speedy noise and shrieking vocalsnote . Grind in general is often mistaken for brutal death metal, which is a subgenre of death metal that strips away melodic elements to focus on a dense pounding sound. However, this is much slower and more technical, and relies more on heaviness, non-stop beating and linearity than the monster speed and aggression of grindcore. Musically speaking, grind tends to use more power chords, simple tremolo pickings and fast beats while brutal death tends more to use intricate tremolo picking, a lot of palm muting and intricate riffs, and a much more technical and heavy drumming. While in pure speed, both genres are on par, grind feels "faster" than brutal death, which feels more "overwhelming". Just compare the second Napalm Death album to anything by, say, Hate Eternal. Yeah, it's confusing, especially when you have bands that merge the two.


Grind has witnessed a huge evolution during years and has several subgenres. Apart from straightforward grindcore, you'll find:

  • Deathgrind: grindcore that's less compressed, making it easier to understand what's going on with all the instruments. Some bands combine grind with the aforementioned brutal death metal. Think of the later Napalm Death. Alternatively, some bands such as Cephalic Carnage play more with the musical complexity common to death metal but do it at the intense speeds of grindcore; this can often sound like death metal with far too many notes, or grindcore that's far too long and complex. There is also some overlap with deathcore, as numerous early bands in the latter genre took heavy influence from deathgrind. Brutal Truth, Terrorizer, Gorerotted, Assück, and Rotten Sound are some of the best examples of the genre.
  • Goregrind: basically the gory death metal version of grindcore, relying much more on death metal aesthetics than grindcore, but less on death metal sounds than deathgrind. The lyrics are almost entirely focused on extreme gore with some exceptions (primarily sociopolitical critiques using gore as a metaphor), the sound is usually fatter and more organic in a death metal fashion, melodic guitar solos are fairly common, and vocals are usually modified by a pitch-shifter. Early Carcass, early Exhumed, and Haemorrhage are best examples of the genre.
  • Pornogrind: a derivative of goregrind that relies more on groove and fun than pure aggression and gore. Of course, the lyrics are sexually explicit. Bears a lot of resemblance with goregrind, may be a little slower though. It's not unusual to have high pitched falsetto vocals (in a tongue-in-cheek way) along the usual pitch-shifted gurgling vocals. Gut, Rompeprop, Gutalax, Jig-Ai, Cemetary Rapist, Cock and Ball Torture, and Meat Shits are the most famous examples.
  • Cybergrind: the electronic side of grind. Basically a mixture of hardcore techno and grind. Think of Carcass playing in a rave party, you'll pretty much understand cybergrind. Usually revolves around grindcore (or goregrind) played over techno beats with added samples and electronic sounds; noise and breakcore are also common influences, and remix EPs and compilations are a staple of the genre. Almost always uses a drum machine (with the one notable exception of The Berzerker). Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Genghis Tron, Gigantic Brain, The Locust, and The Berzerker are probably the most well-known bands in the genre.
  • Noisegrind: the aforementioned mess of noise and screams, often with strong doses of Harsh Noise influence for good measure. It's an offensive subgenre that relies on shock value, whether in its "music" (some bands just improvise all the songs) or its lyrical content. It also has a microgenre of its own known as "gorenoise" that is basically a combination of goregrind and noisegrind. Anal Cunt, Holy Grinder, Full of Hell, Sete Star Sept, Fear of God, Dissolved, and Insufferable are the best examples.
  • Mathgrind: grindcore mixed with elements of mathcore, free jazz, and (occasionally) modern classical. Needless to say, it's frantic, noisy, extremely discordant, and requires no small amount of technical ability. Also colloquially known as "hipster" or "white belt" grind (the latter label due to its association with the early 2000s melodic metalcore and deathcore scenes), and as you can guess, views on it are mixed. There is also some overlap with cybergrind at times (The Locust being a good example) as well as screamo (where it is often known as "emoviolence"). Discordance Axis, Human Remains, and Fuck the Facts are the most famous examples.
  • Crustgrind: grindcore that kept more of its crust roots rather than its extreme metal roots. To sum up, it's d-beat crust with blast beats; but it's definitely more than that. Examples would be Extreme Noise Terror, Electro Hippies, and Disrupt.
  • Mincecore: rarely used, but exists nonetheless. Coined by Belgium's Agathocles, it refers to punkish grindcore that resembles the early days of the genre, with a more aggressive and sharp sound and a tendency to release a lot of split records (as of January 2014, Agathocles have released 304 records, with only 12 albums). Musically, it's often really close to the sound of Agathocles themselves, or closer to the first Napalm Death album, Scum. Think of mincecore as the polar opposite of newer, cleaner bands like Nasum and Rotten Sound. Notable bands of the genre are Rot (from Brazil) and Archagathus (Canada). The gory side of mincecore also exists and is sometimes referred as minceGORE (although even more rarely used), rising in late 2012. It's basically the mincecore version of goregrind, with the same differences as traditional grindcore. Some bands that have been coined as mincegore are Hyperemesis (Canada) and Couple Skate (US).
  • Entombedcore: While technically rooted in metalcore, there's so much overlap with grindcore both sonically and in terms of the fanbase that it gets an honorary mention. The name itself is just a colloquialism that started seeing use on various blogs (there is no actual proper name for the genre); musically, it's old-school metallic hardcore that is always mixed with hefty amounts of Swedish death metal (not Melodic Death Metal, this is important) and usually also grindcore, crust punk, and powerviolence; depending on the band, sludge metal, beatdown hardcore, noise, or black metal may also be involved. Famous examples that skew particularly close to grindcore are Nails, Early Graves, and Call of the Void.
  • Emogrind: Don't let the name scare you away. Emogrind is a combination of Skramz/Emoviolence with grindcore. The genre term and the bands within it are rather obscure, but it's still a thing. Examples include Orchid, Swarrm, Bucket Full of Teeth and SeeYouSpaceCowboy.
And of course, all of these subgenres can be merged. Messy?

The style is, naturally, underground (and is known for having a particularly strong DIY component; house shows are a genre staple, and it's not uncommon to see multiple living rooms and basements on a list of tour dates), though some bands have gained some mainstream recognition.

Examples of grindcore bands include:


  • All Pigs Must Die (side project of Ben Koller of Converge)
  • Baptists
  • Black Breath (also death metal)
  • Call of the Void
  • Coagula
  • Code Orange (originally known as Code Orange Kids; has a significant overlap with beatdown hardcore on I Am King before dropping this altogether on Forever for who the fuck knows)
  • Cult Leader (Spiritual Successor to Gaza, they started out with this sound before largely abandoning it by A Patient Man)
  • Cursed (Ur-Example and Trope Codifier for Entombedcore along with Trap Them; unlike Trap Them, they didn't stick around long enough to enjoy the fruits of their labors)
  • Early Graves
  • Enabler
  • END (supergroup featuring Will Putney, Gregory Thomas (Shai Hulud), Brendan Murphy (Counterparts), Jay Pepito (Reign Supreme), and Andrew McEnaney (Trade Wind, Structures)
  • Erosion (also death metal)
  • Full Of Hell (mixed with powerviolence and noise; they dropped the Entombedcore for deathgrind circa the Nails split and Trumpeting Ecstasy)
  • Fuming Mouth
  • Harm's Way (heavy overlap with beatdown hardcore, especially on Rust which also marked the start of Industrial Metal influences infiltrating their sound)
  • Homewrecker
  • I Am (also beatdown)
  • Jesus Piece (also beatdown)
  • Mammoth Grinder (Cosmic Crypt, early material was crust and mid-era material was death metal with hardcore and crust elements)
  • Nails
  • Oathbreaker (Eros|Anteros, changed to a mixture of hardcore, crust punk, post-hardcore, shoegaze, and black metal on Rheia)
  • Of Feather and Bone (pre-Bestial Hymns of Perversion)
  • Poison Headache (best known for being a side project of Phil Sgrosso)
  • The Secret
  • Sect (a side project of Andy Hurley)
  • Trap Them (overlaps with crust punk and grindcore, arguably the Ur-Example of "Entombedcore" along with Cursed and most certainly a Trope Codifier)
  • Weekend Nachos (as of Still, mixed with powerviolence)
  • Wolf King
  • Wormwood (with particularly prominent doom metal and noise influences, best known for having Greg Weeks on bass)
  • Wreath of Tongues
  • Xibalba (also death metal as of Tierra y libertad)
  • Young And In The Way (also Black Metal)

Grindcore exhibits the following tropes:

  • Careful with That Axe: Extremely common within the genre whenever the vocalists aren't utilizing throat-shredding death growls
  • Doing It for the Art: Even by punk standards. Unless you're Napalm Death, you cannot make a living playing grindcore and will almost definitely lose a lot of money by doing it. This is part of the reason why there is such a strong DIY culture in grindcore: it's a hell of a lot cheaper to play in someone's basement, living room, or rented art space while on tour, and it usually also means a warm place to sleep and potentially even an actual bed (instead of just a couch or a sleeping bag on someone's living room floor).
  • Fading into the Next Song: Sometimes songs will just lead into one another with no real indication that there's a track division. The more avant-garde and technical acts in the genre like this a lot.
  • Gorn: Goregrind lyrics, though some bands (namely Carcass and Exhumed) use them as metaphors for sociopolitical and metaphysical themes. This also applies to many album covers within the genre.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Grind lyrics are usually screamed or growled over very chaotic instrumentation, so yeah...good luck. Not to mention many bands with no actual lyrics, although given that song titles include "Experimental Insemination of Carnivorous Arachnids Into Human Females" and "Decomposing Sex Object", this may be for the better.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: Anal Cunt, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Fuck the Facts, Carcass, Cock and Ball Torture, Cattle Decapitation, Circle of Dead Children, and a lot more. The name Pig Destroyer could also count as one, if you remember that "pig" is slang for "cop". The king of bad names probably goes to Abörted Hitler Cöck.
  • Intercourse with You: A staple lyrical theme in the pornogrind sound, naturally. There exist artists who perform in this style that can talk about sex in the wrongest and roughest ways possible.
  • Loudness War: Not a problem with older releases in the genre (unless they've been "remastered"), but this plagues modern releases. It's almost impossible to find a modern grindcore release that isn't clipped. May be a case of Stylistic Suck.
  • Mad Doctor: A common feature in goregrind, and certain acts (namely Exhumed, Haemorrhage, and Unidad Trauma) make it a part of their stage act.
  • Masked Luchador: A popular feature in pornogrind, inexplicably.
  • Miniscule Rocking: Very, very common, to the point that it's more or less a defining characteristic of the genre. 3 minute songs are Epic Rocking by grindcore standards. The grindcore fandom has coined a recurring joke - written at the top of the page - which lampshades this trope.
    • Sometimes averted by some of the more technical acts in the genre - Cephalic Carnage, !T.O.O.H.!, and Psudoku all have at least one song in excess of 10 minutes.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Quite a few bands don't have bassists, and guitarists running through both a guitar and a bass rig in lieu of a bassist is a fairly common setup in the genre. At the same time, bass is surprisingly important to a lot of bands; the "grindcore tone" (usually accomplished via scooped lows, distortion and fuzz pedals, and an extremely aggressive pick attack on heavily downtuned strings) is a genre hallmark, and most people who are even passingly familiar with the genre will be able to pick it out right away.
  • Protest Song: The lyrics, most of the time when they're not about random sex and violence, as grindcore is based upon punk music.
  • Purple Prose: Not very often, but some grindcore bands have a reputation for very poetic, complex lyrics, most notably Pig Destroyer, Discordance Axis note , and Cloud Rat.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Most non-political songs are about horrific injuries, disgusting sexual acts, or horrific injuries caused by disgusting sexual acts.
  • Shout-Out: There are a whole lot of goregrind bands that are just shout-outs to horror movies. Just look at Mortician and Impetigo, who just use samples of the movies they love in almost every song. Impetigo even did it on stage.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Generally a hallmark of the genre as a whole; while this isn't always the case with the more death metal-influenced acts, the hardcore and powerviolence-leaning ones always take a very simplistic approach. The more technical and avant-garde acts in the genre avert this, however.
  • Trope Maker: Napalm Death are generally considered this, though they were not the first to play the genre. Repulsion, Siege, S.O.B., and Asocial played similar music before them, but were they just considered extreme death metal (for Repulsion) or extreme hardcore punk (the rest). Napalm Death named the genre and were the first band to achieve success, though.
  • Uncommon Time: Grindcore bands have been known to throw in strange meter signatures to make their music stranger and more disorienting. Rotten Sound and Discordance Axis both use this trope pretty frequently, for example.
  • Up to Eleven: Grindcore is essentially crust punk plus this trope.