One of the year's more relentless metal festivals will lay waste to downtown this weekend. California Discord Fest invades The Vortex for two days of whiplash-inducing death metal, brutal grindcore, and mosh-friendly hardcore. Acoustic interludes, good cop/bad cop vocal tradeoffs, and shouts to the crowd to "Jump the fuck up!" will not be tolerated.
There are no bad bands on the line-up. But since there are twenty-six of them, you will need to pace yourself accordingly. No one likes being laughed at for passing out in the corner by 7 p.m., so in the interests of helping you conserve your energy, here are the five bands most worthy of moshing, headbanging, circle-pitting, and stagediving to.
Splatterthrash is the name of Ghoul's most recent album, and also sums up what this band is about. Keeping their identities secret through bloody, burlap sack-like masks, vocalist/guitarist Digestor and vocalist/bassist Cremator plow their way through lurid tales of gore that never end well for their protagonists.
After a five-year hiatus, band leader Matt Harvey revived Exhumed this year for their new disc, All Guts, No Glory. The new slab from these deathgrind pioneers was well-reviewed, but the band really shines in the live environment. Many death metal vocalists are very boring onstage, but Harvey carries himself like a fucking rock star, making them stand out from the blur of cookie-gurgles that sometimes inhabit these fests.
This D.C. outfit carries the grindcore torch shared by legends like Napalm Death and Nasum. In a genre where almost every band is angry about something, Magrudergrind has a finely-tuned precision attack, avoiding slop or riffs for the sake of riffs. Just be prepared to duck your head if you are up front, as the band's show at The Roxy last year may have set a 2010 record for stage-divers at a smaller venue show.
In heavy metal circles, Scandinavia is most often associated with the Norwegian black metal scene of the early 1990's (bands such as Mayhem, Burzum, Emperor) or the Swedish "death n' roll" movement of the same time period (bands such as Entombed and Dismember). But the region also has a rich hardcore history. In the early 1980's, Rattus were the Finnish equivalent of seminal hardcore/punk bands like Minor Threat and The Dead Kennedys. They also weren't fans of Ronald Reagan, for one thing. The band has reunited a few times over the years, but Saturday's festival appearance is being promoted as their "last gig." Who knows if that will be true, but the fact that the band is making a rare U.S. appearance is reason enough to get your ass downtown.
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1. Despise You
When you say the phrase "Los Angeles metal," most people either think of the Sunset Strip or the Silver Lake/Echo Park scene. Despise You hail from Inglewood, and bring the anger and reality that comes with that. Credited as one of the champions of the "powerviolence" genre in the early 1990's, the band put out a number of splits and EPs before fading away for a over a decade. They re-formed several years ago, and may have gotten even more pissed off with age.
And On And On..., a split EP released earlier this year with grindcore lunatics Agoraphobic Nosebleed, displays a dark fury that picked up where it left off in the '90s. Their first new material since the reunion consists of eighteen tracks of bruising mayhem (almost all of which are under ninety seconds each) and are marked by the band's dueling angry-male and angry-female vocals, spouting lyrics that are surely inspired by horrible things they have seen. Live, the band brings an intense aura that will likely lead to the most vicious mosh pit you will witness this year.