Thrash bands such as Slayer, Exodus and Blood Feast had some pretty sick lyrics that alarmed some of the mainstream. But as soon as Death emerged in 1984 with songs like “Corpse Grinder “and “Evil Dead,” and Possessed surfaced the next year with “Swing of the Axe,” they immediately upstaged even the most aggressive thrash. Death metal was the new extreme.

Soon, a wave of more contentious death metal bands including Repulsion, Impetigo, Autopsy, Obituary, Cannibal Corpse, Carcass and Pungent Stench were upping  the ante with faster, more unrestrained music and lyrics rooted in death, disease, atrocity and gore. Death metal was in full swing. Several years later, a new generation of grindcore and brutal death metal bands exited the abattoir with new batches of extreme songs about  carnage, serial killers and other atrocities.

The second generation included bands such as Impaled, Mortician, Exhumed, Cattle Decapitation and Regurgitate. Along with the dawn of deathcore, goregrind bands started popping up like zombies, with just one goal: to create the most twisted, insane and disgusting extreme metal by pushing grindcore to new heights. Many of the demented lyricists of bands such as Jig Ai, Cephalotripsy, Exulcerate and Torsofuck out-nauseate their predecessors by writing about genital mutilation, defecation, necrophilia… and worse.  In many cases, depraved lyrics overshadow limited musicality.

What’s kind of funny about a lot of death metal from the early days until now is that, aside from the frequently grisly cover art and song titles, the music doesn’t seem like it was written by sociopaths who bury decaying bodies under their back porches. Many of the artists seem to be vegan or vegetarian and a surprising percentage support animal rights. More absurdly, without a lyric sheet (or websites such as Genius Lyrics), it’s virtually impossible to tell what the vocalists are singing about. Even choruses are rarely enunciated with any sort of clarity. It’s all about how harsh the growls, gurgles, howls, grunts, pig squeals and banshee shrieks come across to the listener.

For years, goregrind has been a niche subgenre of death metal. Just as not every thrash fan loves death metal and not every death metal follower digs black metal, for some, goregrind is the line of extremity not to be crossed. Everyone has their limits. Those who crave such graphic atrocities are perhaps best compared to movie fans who seek out the most gruesome, nausea-inducing torture porn films over suspenseful, narrative-driven horror movies that may be gory, but only to visually illustrate a moment in the storyline. Torture porn has no plot (hence the questionable comparison to porn; few of these films feature actual sex scenes). But those who favor Lucio Fulci over Dario Argento or the Guinea Pig and August Underground series above Halloween, Hellraiser or Nightmare on Elm Street can gleefully dive in and smear your hands through the blood, viscera and shit that inhabit goregrind and revel in the absolute depravity of their artistry.

Warning: goregrind knows no limits and the lyrics are filled with depictions of brutal misogyny, torture and horrific murder and infestations many find offensive and repellant. Those with weak stomachs should steer clear of the horrors within.
To systematically analyze the ugliness, decay and mutilation addressed in gore metal seems counterintuitive to the subversion and depravity that engendered it. In some ways, it’s absurd to attempt to categorize and praise some of the best (or is it worst) vile and disgusting death metal and goregrind songs available for mass consumption and regurgitation. But what is extreme metal journalism if it doesn’t examine and dissect the most putrid and puerile songs ever to corrode the genre’s landscape?

So, in good faith and with tongue firmly embedded in cheek (in an effort to find some humor in the black abscess), Loudwire takes three generations of gorecore and puts them in a ring to the death: The founders of splatter metal take on the band’s that surrounded the surgical table in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and the newer arrivals that seek to make the abhorrent even more extreme.

Songs are judged for musical quality and lyrical content in the following categories: Most Graphic, Most Violent, Most Anatomically Oriented, Most Perverted, Most Sexually Sadistic, Best Song Based on Gore Movie, Most Creative Kill and Best Death by Hardware Store Implement. And now, onto the brutality!

Oh, and send complaints to the usual address.

Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, as well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax, and Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Front book My Riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.

NSFW: The Most Disgusting + Gore-Filled Metal Lyrics of All Time