Mar 262014
 

(Christian Molenaar plays guitar (and flute) in San Diego’s Those Darned Gnomes. He also performs, on those or other instruments, in Mortal BicycleStatic Goat, City of Brass, Cëmetricity, and the Cooldad Memorial Volcanic Orchestra, among others. And as you’re about to see, he knows a thing or two about a host of subterranean sub-sub-sub-sub genres. And he can write. And he’s funny.)

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call… The Gorenoise Zone.

Halfway between the utter pretension of so many in the noise scene and the legitimately questionable tenets of goregrind (here’s looking at you, Cemetery Rapist) lies the paragon of human musical innovation, a hybrid creature so truly beautiful it can only be heard by those pure of heart. Welcome, friends, to the world of gorenoise.

After Islander wrote about Phyllomedusa’s most excellent Puddle Dependency I felt compelled to spread the gospel of gorenoise, its history and what may lie in its future. Take my hand, friend, and walk with me into a beautiful new world…

A Word on Goregrind

The first major component of gorenoise is the goregrind influence. Goregrind is often compared to and confused with grindcore, and they are indeed very similar, however with a few key differences. Musically, the guitars often play drop-tuned, more metallic riffs as opposed to the sped-up hardcore style you’ll hear in bands like Agathocles or early Napalm Death. Goregrind also often features pitch-shifted, faux-guttural vocals in contrast to the dry hardcore bark of grindcore. The other major difference is that lyrically, unlike grindcore’s often political message, goregrind is nearly always rooted in death and gore (hence the name), especially from a medical or pathological perspective.

 

Fig. 1: Venn diagram comparing and contrasting grindcore and goregrind.

Examples

Last Days of Humanity are arguably the definitive goregrind band. Key features: pitch-shifted vocals, riffs made incomprehensible after being run through the worst guitar rig of all time (probably something like a Crate Excalibur or worse yet, a Blue Voodoo), a gross-out quasi-medical sample intro that’s longer than the song itself, and most importantly: THAT SNARE.

 

 

Carcass flirted with (and debatably, invented) goregrind with 1988’s Reek of Putrefaction. While they toyed with slower, more death metal-oriented sections like the brief intro to this song, the album largely holds to the standards of goregrind with medically-themed lyrics and titles and short bursts of maniacal energy.

 

 

Much like Carcass, Impetigo more heavily utilized dynamics and tempo changes than lesser bands. While Carcass may be bigger these days after switching up their style on just about every album they’ve released, Impetigo stayed with their original sound and I think were better off for it. They’re frequently mentioned along with Nuclear Death, and both bands are vastly underrated with incredibly dark, legitimately psychotic lyrics.

 

The Other Side of the Coin

Harsh noise constitutes the other half of gorenoise’s two main influences. I’m sure many readers will easily be able to identify the categorical constants of harsh noise: a lack of melody, rhythm, or songwriting in any traditional sense in favor of textural or timbral experiments. Less traditionally musical than noise rock and distinct from ambient or drone, harsh noise is, in terms of music and the “scene” itself, largely an unstructured wasteland rife with controversy and a commitment to complete annihilation of boundaries.

Examples

The ever-prolific Merzbow is pretty much synonymous with harsh noise for both aficionados and those only peripherally aware of the genre. Notice the disregard for structured rhythm in favor of a wilder churning feel and the abandonment of any kind of traditional instrument for heavily distorted, oscillating synthesizers to create a wall of evolving, unpredictable textures.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5d8N0j5e9w

Another one of the bigger names in noise, Masonna has been in both Flying Testicle and Bustmonsters with Merzbow and other superstars of the japanoise scene. Note the other artists on this compilation: Incapacitants, Hentaitenno, Niku-Zidousha, Government Alpha, What A Smell, Hijo Kaidan, and The Gerogerigegege—all worth your time.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1hC3q-kMb8

I’ve long held the belief that metalheads would love noise if they could find the right gateway bands. When executed well, it can match the upbeat intensity of hardcore, the crushing heaviness of any sludge band, and with the ice-cold atmosphere of black metal to boot (perhaps if this article works out I can write a treatise on noise next). Enbilulugugal are the absolute kings of the black noise/raw black metal sound and this song is a perfect example of why. Be sure to check out NCS’s interview with Izedis here and grab their latest album for name-your-price download here.

 

A Most Glorious Union

Now that we’ve covered the main ingredients, it’s with great pleasure we can move into the fetid waters of gorenoise itself. Combining the heavy riffs and blasting drums of goregrind with the commitment to abrasive exploration found in noise, gorenoise has developed into a fully-formed new beast set to conquer YouTube and the cassette decks of Eastern European basements.

Primary elements of gorenoise are the pitch-shifted vocals of goregrind and the coarse, scratching textures of noise. Production is hurled through a thick swamp of clamoring racket and drums are programmed into perpetual ringing blasts. Lyrically, it’s nigh-impossible to find anything as perverse as these songs.

Examples

Vomitoma are to me the definition of gorenoise. The pitch-shifted cricket-flatulence/toilet-flushing vocals over programmed drums and indecipherable guitar riffs drenched in solid-state fuzz are all hallmarks of this style. Vomitoma are to gorenoise what Cannibal Corpse are to death metal: they may not have founded the genre but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more archetypal example. See also Torso Fuck, Infant Bile, or Dead Infection.

 

Omphalectoicxanthopsia is one of many projects by the same guy, but believe it or not is probably his most musical. Omphalectoicxanthopsia sound a bit more professional than other gorenoise bands (astounding, I know) but manage to stay true to the general tenets of the genre.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJugy0-vhrA

Here you can see the inimitable Jon Engman tracking drums for Urth and absolutely shredding while he’s at it. Engman has played real drums in a wide variety of bands, from Brodequin to Liturgy, but perhaps most relevant to the affairs at hand is his harsh noise project Custodian.

 

Distribution

Only two avenues of distribution seem to exist for this kind of music. A grimy underbelly exists on YouTube where one can find the seediest metalheads who flock to this scene most likely because it’s as close as they can get to finding real scat fetish videos on YouTube. Previously there were hundreds of unknown one-man projects available on MySpace but it seems they’ve all disappeared, most likely so they can’t be used as evidence in any assault cases.

The only other format this music seems to take is extremely limited cassette runs ranging from as many as fifty to as few as five, which is about how many fans of this kind of music exist in the world.

 

Though Tampax Vortex can more accurately be described as pornogrind (see below), they exemplify this aspect of the scene. This tape was produced in a limited quantity of twenty-five and is exactly the kind of thing I might buy to look at the artwork, once, and then throw in a shoebox under my bed along with all sorts of other things that embarrass me. Note how perfectly they’ve managed to ape the electro-slam sound of Libido Airbag or Gut (again, see below).

 

An anomaly in the gorenoise world, Urine Festival are comprised of ex-members of the aforementioned Last Days of Humanity and have actually produced pro-pressed CDs, perhaps making them the most successful band in the genre (not to mention the fact that they’re one of its only actual bands).

 

Related Forms and Derivations

 

Cybergrind

Cybergrind can fairly accurately be described as “grindcore with a drum machine” and in this aspect alone it is similar to gorenoise. Cybergrind is largely hardcore-based or sounds similar to goregrind, but usually doesn’t feature the pitched-down vocals. Key features include programmed drums, barked vocals or high-pitched screams and a lo-fi guitar tone.

 

By far the best-known cybergrind project, Agoraphobic Nosebleed are clearly heavily influenced by hardcore and early grindcore in spite of Scott Hull’s more death metal-oriented riffs. I know for a fact Jay Randall is a big Agathocles fan and has issued all kinds of albums relevant to this post on his label Grindcore Karaoke—also be sure to check out his noise project Ultracide.

 

Often mislabeled as cybergrind, Genghis Tron really have more in common with mathcore and feature trace electronic elements. The grind elements are few and far between, and their style is far too progressive to be anywhere near cybergrind. Remember, kids, if you want to get anywhere in life you need to be able to differentiate between sub-sub-genres of music most people have never heard of!

 

Pornogrind

Pornogrind can easily be described as goregrind with an even greater emphasis on the sexual aspects of the torture porn that comprises its lyrical content. This, however, is a bit lazy, as pornogrind often incorporates a more electro-based sound than goregrind, often incorporating hip-hop drum beats, while still rejecting the more purely noise-based aspects of gorenoise. The Czech pornogrind scene is particularly vibrant, active, and disturbing, and with perhaps the world’s largest sex industry centered in Prague, one has to wonder if there’s some sort of correlation.

 

Probably the biggest pornogrind band around besides Gut or Cock and Ball Torture, this duo exemplifies the music in a way no definition ever could. Note the prominent electro influence while still maintaining the blasting edge of goregrind.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=oaWfCTuVhH8

One of the bigger-profile names in pornogrind (and with a remarkable 4,235 Facebook likes), Spermswamp is the project of one Mr. Morbid Pimp. As with much of the music in this sub-sub-sub-sub-genre, he seems to genuinely believe in the views espoused in his lyrics. This song in particular was a favorite of mine during my freshman year of high school.

 

In Conclusion

This incredibly small niche genre is largely unlistenable to the vast majority of people with functioning brains. The only real fans of the music seem to be Midwest metalheads who trade the tapes among themselves for meth money (if you’d like to get in on that action, head over to Discogs). A few years ago some small groups of hipsters or scene kids on MySpace would on occasion try to step in and listen ironically, but it seems they’ve either grown out of that phase or become too PC to associate with it. With MySpace deleting many unused, unclaimed accounts, the only record of these obscure projects will soon be on YouTube. I can only hope that with this guide I’ve helped even just one individual to see the light and preserve the legacy of these upstanding individuals.

What do you think of gorenoise? Who are your favorite one-man Estonian pornogrind projects? Can you even tell the difference between these pointless, largely arbitrary categories? Does anyone care if gorenoise survives? Let me know what you think in the comments if you wish for me to leave you a long-winded reply containing far more information that you could ever care to read.

  39 Responses to “CHRISTIAN MOLENAAR’S GUIDE TO GORENOISE”

  1. I think the funniest thing about it, is that for how knowledgeable about music most metalheads claim to be, so many of them think vocals by these sorts of groups are real. Not realizing they are pitch shifted almost exclusively. A point of irritation to me as a vocalist, and there is nothing wrong with it. I just hate how dumb a lot of people are to think that’s a natural voice they are hearing, when you can tell it’s pitch-shifted.

    That being said, if you are busting out the venn diagrams then I have a band for you that hits the trifecta between cybergrind/pornogrind/goregrind: Meat Shits

    My older brother used to listen to them a lot so by extension, so did I. As an adult now, I can’t agree with their strong homophobic/anti-gay themes, but their music is still pretty absurd regardless.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL6VqUsio98
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Sh_0Fsn1-M
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qm7uc_0pBs&list=PLD2B26B78758A1F40

    As far as vastly underrated cybergrind goes, Alien Crucifixion has a special place in my book 🙂

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKRLxbvjXHE

  2. Let’s not forget the ever-comical Excrementory Grindfuckers from Germany and add Gigantic Brain (although they’ve largely changed their sound now) to the cyber grind pile. Also check out the GUTTO project that GUT did with DSP maniac Otto Von Scirach. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_ADomAz6pQ

  3. It’s honestly funny that you mentioned Spermswamp being a favorite during your freshmen year of highschool because I can clearly recall finding Spermswamp’s myspace page back when I was a freshmen and being sickingly intrigued by the new genre I had just opened up. Not to mention that unofficial Libido Airbag video bringing back some old internet memories with it’s use of gifs.

    I love seeing interesting write ups like this because it’s easy to hear music like this and just think “what the actual hell no one really can listen to this!” when you get down to it’s roots with bands like Carcass and Impetigo its all rooted in the same household goregrind bands most people love and enjoy. While the music itself is certainly a lot different it still has the same nasty feel to it.

    The older I’ve gotten it’s gotten a bit harder to actually listen to bands like these for more than short periods of a time which is not a bad thing considering the length of most of the songs. If I had to describe it to someone who doesn’t really get it I’d have to say this music is like smelling your own fart. You know it smells bad and everyone around you does too but to you for the short time you get a whiff of it you have to admit it’s not that bad.

    • I agree with everything in this comment! The MySpacegrind days were awesome. 99% of what I’d find was utter trash but every now and then you’d find a band that perfectly combined pingy programmed blast beats with lo-fi yet absolutely CRUSHING slams and toilet-bowl vocals.

      Most people probably hear this and think it’s either just total noise or else that it’s just meth-heads trying to play death metal in their garages (don’t they know that’s what Obituary is for?) but there really is a lot going into it that I wish more people could appreciate.

      It’s definitely a niche genre that can only be enjoyed in small doses, but every now and then I get that urge to just head to YouTube and listen to some Libido Airbag and then spend the next couple hours falling down the rabbit hole until I come out sticky, confused and slightly used.

  4. Someguy’s guide to Gorenoise: Sometimes a genre label is enough to let you know a priori that the music is pretty much all awful.

  5. this is a great and thoroughly interesting piece. i have not been a huge fan of most of what falls under the grind umbrella over the years so i doubt i would have found my way to this particular sub-genre on my own. you’ve created a new Omphalectoicxanthopsia fan for sure. i have been a harsh noise fan for a very long time and i’m surprised i like several of these bands as much as i do given my (admittedly unfair) bias against bands that are so lo-fi that people call them “noise”.

    • Thanks a lot! I’m glad you enjoyed the article and at least some of the music therein. You might want to check out the Alien Crucifixion song Austin Weber posted above, it’s a good example of just how talented some of these bands really are. Like I said in the post, I may write a second piece on noise and how it relates to metal. I think it’s fertile ground for a lot of crossover outside of the obvious noise rock/noisecore stuff and I think a lot of metal fans could definitely enjoy power electronics or death industrial if they just knew the right gateway bands.

      • halo always seemed like a great gateway band to me. it’s a shame they….well, i have no idea what happened to them. i don’t know if i’ve seen a single mention of their name in the last 10 years. i’ll look forward to the noise/metal primer. yeah, noise-rock/core is pretty thoroughly documented; and there is so much overlap out on the fringes of black and doom that it’s worthy of a write-up for sure.

        alien crucifixion is pretty great so far. great recommendation. it’s definitely worth mentioning that their record is available on bandcamp for free:

        http://aliencrucifixion.bandcamp.com/

        • Do you mean the Halo that’s from Melbourne/London (this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7avQmaLAAo)? If so I wish I knew what they were up to as well. Metal Archives has them listed as “Active” but they haven’t released anything new since 2003 (a live album in 2004 and a reissue in 2010). Totally underrated band and a great example of how the crushing brutality of metal can mix perfectly with the headfucking atmosphere of noise. They’ll definitely be in the post somewhere.

          • yep, THAT halo. those elements always seemed so obviously complimentary that it’s hard to believe it doesn’t happen more often. i felt like they were sitting on a goldmine after “body of light” and then…silence. a shame.

        • Good to see people digging Alien Crucifixion! I love that album so much, it’s super methed out awesome cybergrind.

  6. The only thing I can think of that I have that is remotely close to any of this (other than Cybergrind, where I am right at home – mostly due to me being the defacto ‘industrial guy’ on staff) is Hentai Cum Dungeon…which I think I only have due to them having a ‘song’ called Phil Collins Somewhere In Rural Peru Sucking Off Two Llamas.

    http://www.last.fm/music/Hentai+Cum+Dungeon/Food+Product+2011/Phil+Collins+Somewhere+In+Rural+Peru+Sucking+Off+Two+Llamas

    • And that song title of course has already been inaugurated into the Metal Song Title Hall of Fame.

    • Now THAT is a song title! Are you at all into the noisier side of industrial like death industrial or power electronics? Pharmakon is one of the bigger names in the genre but there’s some really incredible stuff under the surface if you’re willing to do a little digging. Hopefully something will come of my plans to write a noise guide covering the various subgenres of that (death industrial, dark ambient, power electronics, HNW, etc).
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U60NDnYidEg
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_5Xmk5zBpk

      • I just saw this comment, wanted to say that with any genre my knowledge is pretty surface level – industrial side included. It’s just most of that stuff winds up on my metaphorical desk and I don’t have much opposition to electronics. That said, I do have some knowledge of the dark ambient side of things due to experience with Lustmord and the Cryo Chamber bandcamp page.

  7. Great post indeed. My favourite gorenoise band is Cunt Pus Ingurgitator, a one-man band comprised of the inimitable Bob Macabre of Chainsaw Dissection (semi-)fame. CPI has also released actual Cd-r’s, as has Carnal Excrement (another Bob Macabre endeavour). But a truly great article, very informative – and about time Enbilulugugal got some positive press. Thank you!

  8. Apologies to those of you whose comments got hung up for moderation instead of appearing immediately. All the “cunt” references in these lovely band names are getting flagged by our spam filter. 🙂

  9. I’m sorry to admit that I can’t stand more than one minute of this stuff. It’s too much for me, usually sticking close to the tech-death and melodic death realms. I guess I like (“mainstream”) technical prowess and vocals that sound like words too much for this to be my cup of tea.

    The reason why I’m commenting nonetheless is because I find it absolutely great to see that this site unites all our flavours of metalhead, and provides a platform that contributes to mutual understanding in a positive way. Now at the end of the day, I don’t like gorenoise notably better than this morning, but I’ve certainly learnt enough to lay a good foundation for future discussion. Thank you for this article, and NCS for posting it.

    • Thanks for taking the time to leave this comment even though the music isn’t your thing. I know Christian will appreciate it too.

    • Thanks a lot for this comment. My intent with this wasn’t to “convert” anyone per se but really just to shed some light on a particular style of super-underground music. To be honest, I’m stunned that there are so many people who are receptive to this post–I figured no one would be able to connect with it.

      NCS is truly a bright, shining star in the metal blogosphere. The only reason I was able to write this post was because Islander is genuinely one of the nicest dudes in metal. This site is just about the only place around where people can talk about whatever kind of music they like and no one trolls them or needlessly talks shit. <3 u Islander

  10. I’ve been exposed to Enbilulugugal before- great name. When their songs have discernible riffs I can usually get some enjoyment out of them, but for the most part I’ve chalked them up to not being my thing. If there’s one barrier that keeps metal fans from enjoying noise I’d guess it would be the lack of riffs.

    • Very valid point. I think most people just can’t find anything in noise to latch onto and just write it off as boring, but like I’ve been saying, they just need to find the right artists for it to click with them. I tell people all the time that in all the millions of bands that exist in a single genre, AT LEAST one has to do something for you, whether it’s rap, rock, bluegrass, classical, funk or anything else that could possibly exist. The analogy I often use is that each genre is a swimming pool filled to the brim with shit, but buried inside are 20 flawless diamonds. Whether or not it’s worth it to dive in is up to you.

      • Yeah, I agree with that. I’m not usually one to say “I don’t like X genre” – there are pretty much always artists I find that I can enjoy. I have found some individual songs in the noise genre that I listen to on rare occasion, and plenty that have at least some influence from it.

        Anyway, this was a good article. Being a music nerd I can always appreciate a look into niche genres I’m not that familiar with.

  11. I like me some Phyllomedusa and Engilulugugal, but going by this article, the lyrical aesthetic is not for me.

  12. this was a really entertaining read 🙂 i love Impetigo as well as the early Carcass. i don’t mind the fake frog burp vocals, i’m a big fan of Devourement, but in general i prefer natural mid to lower screams/growls. my biggest problem with grindcore and hardcore is the high/dry vocals, just don’t care for ’em.
    Pornogrind is just never going to work for me, though.

  13. Yeah, I guess gorenoise ain’t for me. Do the noise post though; my education in noise (hell, even industrial) is very surface-level, at best, and I’d like to explore the subgenre (with a knowledgeable guide, kinda like how having someone who knows what they’re talking about when you’re in art museum helps you understand, and maybe enjoy further and deeper, the pieces contained therein).

  14. Call me Crazy but i kinda like this genre no only fort he sounds but for cover and i admire that people can produce this kind of ugly shit and be so dedicated to it, these people are authentic. i ve been tracking releases for one month now and already got plenty of tapes, and have a clearer vision about it.

    One thing you forgot to mention, noisecore is one of the most important influence in that kind of music (short songs, sense of humour : think genital masticator, jangle….), noisecore and goregrind plus harshnoise, you mix those 3 and you have the receipt.

    The main character and father of this kind of genre is Adam Rotella with his Project Anal birth, from 1996,
    http://www.discogs.com/artist/860887-Anal-Birth

    He is still very active and plays as Liquified insides… many projects here is a good article about him :
    http://trialbyordeal666.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/review-anal-birth-aborted-artifacts-re.html

    Not to forget : Stephen Embry aka Embryo behind many gorenoise projects such as Gruesome toilets, also Bobby Maggard behing the infamous label Regurgitated Stoma Stew Productions exclusively dedicated to this genre and prolific artist !! In Spain there is the label called Purulent Semen Records, also Bob Macabre… from cunt puss ingurgitator… and Steve Pekari, proprietor of Mental Abuse Records….

    my favorite label is : splatterfuck, favorite projects : vomitoma, gruesome toilet, Urinary Tract Infection From Severe Pus Clots, anal birth, liquified insides, eye gouging mayhem, Proctalgie

    really cool to read that articles, gorenoise is a small word, these guys behind those projects are amazing, really friendly and always open to trade…

    best reagds

  15. I though Gorenoise was created by Barbass in 1994.

  16. Christian Molenaar rides a hoveround!

  17. That’s funny that BARBASS was mentioned. I’ve been looking them up and their 2000 demo is most definitely Gorenoise! I only got hear 1 track off of the 1994 demo and it’s bizarre acoustic sounding noisecore so I need to hear more! These guys sure kept a low profile because I didn’t even know about them until now and it looks like they’ve been active on and off until NOW! Someone help me get in touch with these guys! Might turn out that I’m not the first to do this Gorenoise shit after all! YES!!! FINALLY!!!

  18. I just heard more of the first BARBASS demo and it’s MOST DEFINITELY Gorenoise! Unless someone predates them somehow, looks like BARBASS IS THE FIRST GORENOISE BAND! Not only does that not bother me, I couldn’t be happier for them! ALL HAIL BARBASS FATHER(S) OF GORENOISE!!! Their blogspot website has no contact info! I need to get in touch with them somehow!

    http://barbassnoise.blogspot.com/?m=1

  19. Cool! This is all info I’ve known for a while now, but it’s super cool to see people trying to reveal this scene to a more mainstream audience. I’ve been in the gorenoise/goregrind scene since 2012.

    I love the Venn Diagram though! I saved it and will use it whenever I’m in a chat about how goregrind isn’t a real genre.

  20. Yeah barbass is around since 1994, I know who is behind this band

  21. mai gorenoise’s channel on YouTube kicks srs shit. I was looking for more and more extreme stuff away time went on and I wound up I’m the noise camp after losing my shit to Insect Warfare’so Noise grind power death release. It’s some really killer shit once you start digging into this amazingly unique genre. It just got heavier and heavier. I craved more and found gorenoise. Thanks for the article. KEEP METAL PURE BITCHESSS!!!!!

  22. I am the sole member of a long running gorenoise project since the days of Myspace. taking it the next level, combining gorenoise with power electronics/industrial and a tinge of black/war metal.

    and yeah, a lot of people in Eastern Europe love me.

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