Sometimes, a top ten list changes throughout the year. I thought I had my album of the year locked in place months ago. And then another release came out…followed by another one…and still another…
After following the scene for well over fifteen years, I can safely say that this has been one of the most exciting years for cybergrind fans. While this may be my list right now, I could have easily put any of the dozens of amazing cybergrind releases on this list. If you don’t see an album you loved on here, trust me when I say that I probably had it on here at some point.
10. DEATHTRIPPA – DEATHRIPPA SZN
Ian Moore’s unique take on cybergrind melds elements of hip-hop, nu metal and digital hardcore into an amorphous monstrosity of intense, emotional, and most importantly, noisy music. Hailing from New Zealand, this year has seen Deathtrippa touring the U.S. with Blind Equation, opening for dark electronic rap act Ho99o9 in Australia, and even getting his music shared by divisive yet popular music reviewer Anthony Fantano. From the opening track “tamagotchi torture,” the tone is set, preparing you for an aural attack that leaves you in awe and hooks you in from the beginning.
Don’t let the quirky song titles and psychedelic album cover fool you – this album is about as pure of a cybergrind record possible. Nostalgic cybergrind meshes with modern production, and it’s all steeped in producer Bootsy’s Jewish heritage and personal experiences. Answer, or T’Shuvah, dives into the history of the sound, exploring everything from early-era drum machine grindcore like Agoraphobic Nosebleed, death industrial like The Berzerker, and MySpace Scene Grind like I Shot The Duck Hunt Dog. With crossover acts BEJALVIN and Ramona Cuervo making appearances, the barrage slows just long enough for you to prepare for the next attack on your senses. And you’re going to love every bit of it.
8. CHOP CHOP CHOP CHOP CHOP CHOP CHOP – We Live as Ghosts
The secretive Chop7times is no stranger to the scene. We Live as Ghosts constitutes the seventh release under the extreme noisegrind act’s banner, and it is by far his most intense. After achieving some viral fame with a live performance of the four-second long track “I Hope You Get Cancer In Hell” (a song about controversial far-right broadcaster Rush Limbaugh), his latest album mixes harsh noise, assault weapon-like blast beats and ferocious screams that twist your insides and shatter your eardrums. In the truest spirit of grindcore, everything moves so fast that before you have time to breathe, it’s over and on to the next track.
This one might be a controversial pick because, in the purest sense of the word, Bejible is not a cybergrind album. At first glance, Gunkman and DJ Craig’s blend of hip-hop, hyperpop, dubstep and digital hardcore have nothing to do with cybergrind outside of getting a release through the increasingly popular Big Money Cybergrind label. And sure, tracks like “BRAIN CREMATION” and “BOX CUTTER VASECTOMY” teeter on the genre’s edge, but the severe lack of blast beats, inclusion of pure rap tracks like “WORST SONG EVER,” and the lack of grime in the production would disqualify it from most lists.
So how did it end up here? Simply put, this album exudes the DIY ethics and passion that the scene shares, and its crossover appeal introduced many to the cybergrind scene. On top of that, this release is really well-made and at times absolutely hilarious, with tracks like “BORN MONEY SWAG DIE” replacing a popular Christian prayer with references to cash and swag or the song “SWAGZILLA” having lines like, “I’m like Jack Black, but I’m purple, I guess that would make me Jack Purpl.”
Metalcore act fromjoy have gotten their flowers morethanonce this year, so what else can be said about this album? Lots, actually: from the clean production, the ripping guitars, the elements of breakcore and vaporwave, and the reality-bending songwriting, fromjoy pulls no punches, takes no prisoners, and only lets up when the last note rings. A not insignificant amount of time is spent exploring the realms of cybergrind, vaporwave, and other forms of digital production through beautiful synths and expertly placed samples. This sounds like a band who have been at it for far longer than they actually have, and I’m very excited to see what comes next.
Garry Brents’s inspiration for their nu metal revival was sparked when the crazy ass moments in nu metal Twitter/X account started picking up popularity in mid-2022, rekindling a passion for the JNCO-wearing, Adidas-loving alternative metal scene of the late 90s and early 2000s. The self-titled debut record for his new (nu?) project took listeners by storm, getting reviews from Nu-Metal Agenda and the infamously anti-nu metal publication NPR. With sounds ranging from Converge-meets-Slipknot on tracks like “Memory Leak” and “Reek,” to the more rap-metal inspired “Ex-Sprite” à la Flaw or early Deftones, this debut is not afraid to wear its influences on its sleeve. And the high amount of guest musicians, producers, and vocalists on this record means that it’s likely that at least one of your indie favs played a part on this massive machine.
4. thirtytwobitwhore – trust me, one day this will all make sense
Going off of the controversial project name and song titles like “nevada-tan,” it’s easy to write Cleo’s debut LP as another attempt at edginess for edge’s sake. You’d be heavily mistaken, however, as this is an album that is devastatingly emotional and steeped in trauma and frustration. The nu metal elements combined with the digital hardcore production keeps the kinetic energy flowing throughout, with only brief (albeit deeply emotional) respites. This is a release for those who have been hurt, those who have felt ostracized, or those who just want to let their angst play out over barrages of sinister audio. There is an aggressively fun energy with this album that hides the true anger behind it.
Digital hardcore has always had a crossover with cybergrind, and whit3corset’s PETRUSHKA combines both elements so expertly that it’s earned her a release through Big Money Cybergrind and playing with Prosthetic Records’s Blind Equation. From the pounding, noisy rhythms of “YOUR DESIGN” and “PAWN” to more experimental tracks like “PETRUSHKA” and “CROSSES,” there is a sense of purpose that Emily White exudes from every single song on this record. If there weren’t so many releases that excelled in quality this year alone, this would probably be my album of the year.
2. I’m letting unseen forces take the wheel – Scary Website
If the previously mentioned album was a masterclass in crossing digital hardcore with cybergrind, this is a masterclass in crossing cybergrind with itself. Although technically an EP, a) it’s grindcore and b) who cares about minor technicalities like that. Scary Website is so densely packed that the five song, 10 minute runtime is both too short and feels like it’s longer than it is. Tempos, moods, and even genres can change midway through any song, combining elements of white-belt grind, screamo, hyperpop, sludge, and even nu metal into a stylistically diverse and chaotic mish-mash of musical assassination, all the while creating and integrating their unique blend of emotional lyricism with an unmatched comedic touch. The website may be scary, but you’ll never wanna click out of it.
These are albums that came out this year that – if not directly cybergrind themselves – orbit around the scene.
MSPaint – Post-American: A brilliant, thought provoking approach to modern life in the United States that dashes nihilism on the ground and forces you to accept that change is only possible if you want it.
Chrome Dracula – Vampire Breath: from the mind of synth-punk/cybergrind veteran I Killed Techno!, this EP takes horror elements and blends them with the punky, DIY aesthetic that has defined their musical career for the past 20 years.
Alluce – Mariana Depths (RGBB3BLU): Alluce has quickly become one of my favorite new producers in the scene, releasing progressive, transcendent tracks that are only getting tighter with every subsequent release.
Kofin – Death Breaks: Cybergrind-infused breakcore that reaches into the recesses of your anxious mind and makes you confront the faceless horror that exists within your peripheral vision.
Some albums on this list had tighter production; some had stronger singles; others had heavier elements; and still others had more crossover appeal. But none of them combine all these elements so exquisitely, and with such a genuine love for cybergrind’s past and present, than Blind Equation’s Prosthetic Records debut, Death Awaits. An emphatically raw labor of passion, the chiptune beeps over blast beats and guttural screams contrasted with the hyperpop vocal interludes are distilled into the purest form of cybergrind. No guitars are present throughout, and none are needed as James McHenry sets a blistering pace from the very beginning and never lets up. I’ve listened to this album more times than I can count, and everything from the Rat Jesu and Deathtrippa features to the emotionally vulnerable lyrics adds layers upon layers to an already dense record, and every time I listen, I discover something new.
Even though 2023 was one of the best years for cybergrind yet, 2024 looks to be even bigger. There are some contenders that were too late for my AOTY, like Sleeping on Stardust’s Goin’ Mimis and powerviolence crewHitbox’s Labor Vita, Necesse Mori. We have new ZOMBIESHARK! and potentially Thotcrime coming in 2024, and that’s not including the amount of artists just now getting into the scene who may be working on their debuts. If 2023 was this great for cybergrind, then I truly believe next year will solidify it for the masses.