Thrash Hits

March 27th, 2012

Guest Column: Grind To Death’s Alex Layzell on Fastcore

A while ago we asked Alex Layzell, head-honcho over at the excellent Grind To Death, whether he’d like to do a guest column for us here at Thrash Hits. Take it away, Mr Layzell…

Grind To Death Guest Column Fastcore Thrash Hits

So the cyborg/monster mesh that is Thrash Hits’ Deputy Editor (no one can listen to that much metal, without assimilating with it) sent me a Morse code telegram a while back asking me to do a guest post on this Mecca of review sites: Thrash Hits. Now, to do a little exposé on metal will be insulting to your intelligence, on the assumption since you are reading this you therefore read Thrash Hits; and are thus well informed and to a higher standard well beyond my primitive gonzo-journalistic comfort zone. So what can I write about? My usual praises and slanders resides in the grindcore/powerviolence spectrum of crimes against music, but today I am going to treat you to something special: Fastcore.

Fastcore (italics necessary to show the full throttle speed it operates at), bluntly put is a supersonic take on the punk genre; for those of you old enough or privileged enough to remember the anxious banality of pressing the rewind button on cassettes, and hearing the songs going really fast, well that pretty much is Fastcore. Given the genre’s extremity, peculiarities and aversion to niceness is one often gelled in with the Powerviolence/Punk/Grind end of the music, so expect a lot of overlap.

In the legal interests of Thrash Hits under the interest of health and safety I don’t recommend any of you to headbang to any of this lest you wish for accidental decapitation to ensue. However without further ado here are some of my favourite Fastcore fiends…

1) Hellnation

Hellnation Thrash Hits

I mean with a name like Hellnation, and release titles like Fucked Up Mess, At War with Emo and Cheerleaders for Imperialism, you can tell this isn’t going to be one of your run-of-the-mill punk bands. Their modus operandi is simple, but devastatingly effective: punk rock riffs played at terminal velocity rattled against some demented screams of colourful language. The band used to constantly moan there was no drummer who could blast at the pace intended, a statement made more frightful when you realise just how damn good and dextrous the drumming actually is. Sadly Hellnation are no more, but their legacy is eternal and froms its ashes arose the equally insane punkyviolence band Brody’s Millitia.

Listen to the first six songs from Cheerleaders for Imperialism by Hellnation:

2) XBRANIAX

XbraniaX Thrash Hits

Straight-Edge speedmongers, XBRAINIAX, titled their crucial release simply Hail Fastcore – a 99 track cd of non-stop blasts and riffs (an investment well worth the under-two-pints price tag). It’s a collection of a wide range of the punk spectrum, from your more basic easygoing punk (well, as easy as a hyperspeed rollercoaster of punk gets) to the more in-your-face burliness. Want to increase your productivity? Then give a listen to these slick speed fiends!

Listen to the first 20 tracks of Hail Fastcore by XBRAINIAX:

3) Quattro Stagioni

Quattro Stagioni Thrash Hits

Now these are a crazy bunch of bastards! I would like to think they named themselves after Vivaldi’s song, but the likelihood is they just named themselves after the pizza. Germans have a certain reputation for their rigidity and lack of humour, clearly Quattro Stagioni chuck that stereotype out the window, with their deranged vocal frenzy and 90s era blast-fast-and-loud drum pounding chucked through distorted time shifts.

Listen to three tracks by Quattro Stagioni:

4) Hummingbird of Death

Hummingbird Of Death Thrash Hits

Awesome name for an awesome band who systematically outdo themselves each consecutive release, never failing short of bringing the best to the table. Overall their projection is a pristine shard of captivating punk ejected at tremendous speeds, whilst retaining a strong sense of progression. They make excellent use of alternating between mid-paced tempos to light speed tempos, giving it a nice atmospheric edge that habitually delivers a relentless pulse of energy.

Listen to The World Needs This by Hummingbird Of Death:

5) Bruce Banner

Bruce Banner Thrash Hits

We should of guessed that a band from Sweden would of cropped up on this list. I am yet to find a best of list in extreme music that doesn’t include a Swedish band (please don’t set this as a personal challenge, you shall meet with defeat). Leaning heavily to the noisier end of punk, a legacy left by fellow compatriots Filthy Christians and protogrinder legends Asocial; these guys know how balance rabidity and charm with an all-out sensory carnage.

Listen to ‘Martian Robots’ by Bruce Banner:

6) Secret Seven

Secret Seven Thrash Hits

Its no secret South East Asia’s extreme music export is on the boom, a movement spearheaded by Grind legends in the making Wormrot, but what if I told you there were other cool bands from Singapore that aren’t Wormrot? Yep you guessed it (and if you didn’t shame on you!) Secret Seven is one such band, they give their heavy Youth Crew influences the hot-coal-on-the-feet treatment, and although not as breakneck as most speed junkies that make up Fastcore , their catchy vibes really do hook you in.

Listen to ‘Survivor Singapore’ by Secret Seven:

Are there more Fastcore bands? Of course there are! But I leave it to you readers to find them, since as chance would have it you do have the post powerful tool ever invented at your fingertips; the internet! If you do have any complaints about my choice of bands, or wish to dispute their genre classification, then I encourage you by all means to send extremely foul mouthed hate mail to my proxy address ricksantorum@gov.usa , as for anything else civilised feel free to use the comment section. Now, you’ll have to excuse me I have to be off to the Otologist to see why my ears constantly bleed….

Alex Layzell is the boss over at the mighty Grind To Death – one of the best blogs on the ‘net when it comes to music that louder, faster, noisier and just downright nastier than anything else out there. We highly recommend you check out his site, and make it a regular part of your blog-browsing.


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