When ‘hardcore’ becomes an understatement

A couple of years ago I found the most extreme band I had ever heard. It was 2010, I was just starting high school, and I constantly wanted to push the limits of my musical taste. Upon the first listens, I recall thinking to myself: this record is so extreme, its borderline laughable. In fact, I did laugh because of the extremity and sometimes I still do. And not only that, I really thought the music would remain a joke and it would just fade away with time.
Now, four years on, I still give Agorapocalypse (2009) by american grindcore outfit Agoraphobic Nosebleed a spin throughout from time to time. And recently, I began wondering what it is about this record that has made it stand out and retain its relevance, and not least its shock value?

Well, for one, they don’t have a person to man the drums. All the drum sounds you hear on this record are completely sample-based and programmed. Now that does a couple of things to the overall sound; the pace of the drums is inhumanly fast, pummeling you in the face at over 1000 beats per minute. The sound of the drums is also kind of polished – not that I mind, but it really emphasizes the inhuman aspect. Another thing are the hysterical, screeching vocals of Katherine Katz combined with growls from the two other vocalists – Jay Randall and Richard Johnson – that just add a completely new layer of insanity onto the already chaotic sound. One could fear that this could result in a drowning pool of fast instruments and screams, but its really well executed overall.

The album’s running length ticks in at just 28 minutes, and to this day I still get lost in the last part of it, simply because I can’t keep up with the ridiculous tempo. Although I enjoy listening to the album as a whole, I really need to be in the mood for the grind-bombardement.
Not to forget, I personally weight variation in music as a very important attribute, which is not a tag you can put on this record. So it might seem contradictory that a record like this appeals to me, since some of the songs just blend a little too much together. But one probably also has to realize that variation is not something one should go look for in a grindcore record.

Get blown away:

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