Essential Grindcore Albums

Grindcore is a genre characterized by albums with dozens of songs with a general running time of two minutes, countless splits with other artists and consistently revolving band lineups. So it's often difficult to know where to get started if you are new to the genre.

We've done a bit of the legwork for you and picked out the albums that are grindcore cornerstones. Without further delay here are the most essential grindcore albums:

Napalm Death - 'Scum'

Napalm Death - 'Scum'
Napalm Death - 'Scum'.

The flip sides of 1987's Scum were recorded by different lineups and feature different vocalists. Scum also features arguably the world’s shortest song, the one-second long “You Suffer.” The material was championed by influential British broadcast John Peel.

More than two decades later, Scum is still a grind cornerstone. To this day, Napalm Death traditionally close their set with “Siege of Power.” It’s not just a metal classic, it’s a musical milestone.

Grindcore purists will tell you that it all started here. Repulsion are a bit of an anomaly; the Michigan band never released a proper album until long after they split; never toured widely and only received renewed attention when Relapse reissued Horrified in 2003. But their sound – which included distorted guitars, a fuzzy bass and blastbeats – reached a wide audience due to tape trading.

One of the people most influenced was Shane Embury, best known as the bassist of Napalm Death. Many consider Horrified (1989) the most influential grindcore album ever. 

Carcass are best known for pioneering melodic death metal in the mid-'90s, but before they learned to play their instruments and hired Michael Amott they released the grind classic Reek Of Putrefaction. 

Released in 1988, the horrid production somehow only adds to the charm.

Brutal Truth - 'Sounds Of The Animal Kingdom'

Brutal Truth - 'Sounds Of The Animal Kingdom'
Brutal Truth - 'Sounds Of The Animal Kingdom'.

Brutal Truth's first album Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses introduced a new sound and band to the grind scene. Need To Control followed and went in a wildly experimental direction.

Their third album, 1997's Sounds of The Animal Kingdom, is perhaps their finest hour, combining the groove grind of “Dementia” and “Jemenez Cricket” and the weirdness of “Blue World.”

In the late '90s, former members of Northern Virginia grinders Enemy Soil and A.C. of Massachusetts joined and took grindcore to a sinister place. Pig Destroyer were among the first bands to abandon bass guitars.

2001's Prowler In The Yard is a fierce and chilling musical statement and a concept album about a spurned lover hunting a former lover. Vocalist J.R. Hayes’ powerful lyrics, Scott Hull’s riffs and Brian Harvey’s drumming make this a modern grind classic.

Agoraphobic Nosebleed - 'Altered States Of America'

Agoraphobic Nosebleed - 'Altered States Of America'
Agoraphobic Nosebleed - 'Altered States Of America'.

A calculated ploy for attention or utter drug-induced madness? That question is up to the listener. Agoraphobic Nosebleed's 2003 album Altered States Of America (actually, more an E.P.) features 100 songs in roughly twenty minutes.

The “songs” are often sound bites or crazed collections of riffs. An unforgettable listening experience.

Discordance Axis - 'The Inalienable Dreamless'

Discordance Axis - 'The Inalienable Dreamless'
Discordance Axis - 'The Inalienable Dreamless'.

Discordance Axis’ final album, 2000's The Inalienable Dreamless, packs more into roughly 20 minutes than most albums do in an hour. The album, packaged in a DVD case with beautiful artwork, is noted for Jon Chang’s personal lyrics and harrowing voice and Rob Marton’s inimitable guitar sound.

Drummer Dave Witte now plays with Burnt By The Sun and Municipal Waste.

This often-overlooked album starts with a soundbite from serial killer Henry Lee Lucas and proceeds straight to musical bedlam with tracks like “I Work For The Street Cleaner.”

Impetigo were one of the first bands to make samples, in this case from cult horror movies, an integral part of their music. The sample culled from the Jim Van Bebber cult film Deadbeat At Dawn is often spoken verbatim by fans. Horror Of The Zombies was released in 1992.

Nasum - 'Human 2.0'

Nasum - 'Human 2.0'
Nasum - 'Human 2.0'.

Grind doesn’t get much fiercer than Nasum, and Human 2.0 was their best album. Listening to a Nasum is like being pummeled with a bat. 2000's Human 2.0 will leave you covered with bruises and senseless.

Sadly, frontman Mieszko Talarczyk was killed during the Thailand tsunami in 2004, but his music has proved extremely influential on grind bands that followed.

Napalm Death’s second album (released in 1988) is the first with bassist Shane Embury, who is still with the band. While not as influential as Scum, it’s arguably a better, more aggressive album featuring Napalm Death classics like the self-titled track.

This is the only album to feature future Cathedral vocalist Lee Dorian. Vocalist Barney Greenway joined later for Harmony Corruption.