Today was another of those days when the portable music player just seemed to be fantastic at DJing for me. Granted, it was yours truly who actually populated the thing with music (from scratch, since the great iPhone 3.13 upgrade debacle), but the boy done good. Oh, according to Google Docs, ‘debacle’ is not a word. Suggest the accent then, you nincompoop of a virtual office suite. as time has gone on, I have developed a taste for the faster side of music. Energy music, I call it, where upbeat pop, grindcore and punk rock can all meet quite happily as long as they all energise me. Be Your Own PET, Andrew WK, NOFX, Melt-Banana, KoxBox, Kelly Clarkson: me not bothered.
So I banged on a bunch of energy music for this most recent playlist refresh. Ke$ha went on, as she’s clearly my thing of the moment. Her album has only been out for a few weeks, and she has already entered my top ten most-listened for the last 12 months on my last.fm thing. Yes, I am hooked on her album. So she made it on. I have also been rocking the thrash for a while now. Technically a few years, but only in the last annum have I been rejoicing in the newer offerings from the sub-genre. Stalwarts such as Megadeth, Testament, Overkill and Sacrifice have all been bringing it in a big way. So I banged on some Sacrifice, Testament and Overkill.
And, because they’re related in the big tree of heavy metal, I also included some grindcore (Agoraphobic Nosebleed: Altered States of America; Discordance Axis: The Inalienable Dreamless; Gridlink: Amber Gray) and metalcore (Strife: In This Defiance). Funny thing about metalcore. It was one of the coolest things going in the mid-late 90s. Strife split up (or at least went on a long hiatus), Earth Crisis went a bit pump, Integrity made their name even worse by adding a ‘2000’ on the end, and I stopped paying attention. Next thing I know, the scene has been listening to a lot of Swedish death metal and ‘metalcore’ is a dirty word. Strife, though; there was some lean, brutal, metallic hardcore. I’ve been meaning to revisit Gothenburg-core of late, though, so who knows.
I’ve also put some music that mixes the thrashing and the punking, like Slayer‘s Undisputed Attitude (their best, fastest, heaviest and most aggressive album), and the ever-present Propagandhi. And Captain Ahab and Genghis Tron, who mix the electronics with the rocking to fantastic effect. Oh, and I have a Blink-182 album on there because it’s energetic and great (Enema of the State). So, with that fine-tuned lot, I walked home from work in random land. That was the method of playback, not the area in which I work. Hoping for some Slayer, the first song was… Slayer! ‘Spiritual Law’ epitomises that album’s efficient approach to delving into hardcore punk’s history and pulling out exhilaratingly modern-sounding rock. But not really ‘rock’: this stuff is way angrier than Reign in Blood, and it’s a decade later!
Given grindcore’s fondness for songs brief and numerous, I got a lot of DA and AN. But strangely no GL. Surprise surprise, The Inalienable Dreamless tracks (including the bostin title track) were better than the ASA ones. But hey, I’m a grindcore heathen who prefers Agorapocalypse to AN’s older stuff. Soz. I also got a choice selection of Propagandhi – ‘Rock for Sustainable Capitalism’ and ‘Name and Address Withheld’ (two of the finer songs from their magnum Potemkin City Limits opus), which was nice. The thrash veterans reared their heads for some weirdly modern-sounding material: ‘The Devil’s Martyr’ and ‘For the Glory Of’ really stood out. The one Strife song I got, ‘Force of Change’, really energised, but the real treat was saved for the home stretch.
If you have the time or inclination, play these songs in this order:
Slayer – ‘Mr. Freeze’
Discordance Axis – ‘A Leaden Stride to Nowhere’
Genghis Tron – ‘Greek Beds’
Discordance Axis – ‘Sound Out the Braille’
Blink-182 – ‘The Party Song’
It works so well, and I’d never have thought of putting them in sequence. We begin this run with another of those concise blasts of precision hardcore brilliance from the California thrashers. Then, the DA track lets us know how far extremity came in four years. It’s an epic for the album, clocking in at over four minutes, and it complements the fury of the Slayer track perfectly. Six years on, Tron hits us with a slice of cybergrind that is rare for them in that it kicks in instantly. While it sacrifices DA’s finesse for sheer volume it’s nevertheless a fine example of the band. (An even better example would be ‘White Walls’, so get that listened.) As though this were a considered compilation, DA return with the far briefer ‘Sound Out the Braille’, to provide both an accidental bumper and happily coincidental thematic coherence. After less than a minute, that rage is replaced by… a man swearing under his breath. It’s Blink-182, to provide comic relief and a dynamic swing. I must add, though, that this is probably the fastest Blink song I’ve heard. While it’s very silly, it’s also really good, and rounds out this set of songs quite nicely.