"10 bands who wouldn’t exist with Discharge", you say? Just ten? Because, seriously, we could name hundreds! And not just bands, but entire genres! Formed in Stoke-On-Trent in 1977 the band inspired, particularly with their ground-breaking debut album Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing, everything from grindcore and crust punk to black metal, D-beat (named after Discharge’s distinctive drum beats) and thrash metal. There’s even a dis-core genre, with soundalike bands employing the Dis prefix in homage to our unlikely heroes.
Covered by everyone from Anthrax to Arch Enemy, and loved by everyone from Orange Goblin to Pantera, quite simply, Discharge sounded like nothing on Earth, a wall of noise with blunt, minimalist anti-war and anti-government lyrics spat out by what sounded like a rabid dog. And to this day, they’re still kicking ass. Here are 10 bands that show metal (and heavy music as a whole) wouldn't be the same without them.
Let’s kick things off with a little band from San Francisco that you may be familiar with. It’s no exaggeration to say that Discharge inspired the entire thrash scene, but perhaps none more so than Metallica who covered two Discharge songs – The More I See and Free Speech For The Dumb – on their Garage Inc album of 1998. Curiously, they have yet to play either song live, but when asked about his favourite singers of all time James Hetfield nominated original Discharge frontman Cal Morris in his top 20. “I like Discharge a lot,” he stated. Nuff said.
Queens Of The Stone Age
To this day, it is often assumed that Queens Of The Stone Age – and their predecessors Kyuss – were influenced by Black Sabbath, but in fact Josh Homme and his cohorts were way more into punk rock, often giving props to the likes of Black Flag, GBH, and, of course, Discharge.
Indeed, Homme has stated that along with GBH’s City Baby Attacked By Rats, his favourite record at 14 years old was the latter’s Never Again. “It was heavy and fast, and the production was so raw, I just knew it was real,” he told Spin magazine. And he wasn’t wrong.
Given that Discharge, as previously mentioned, paved the way for what became known as grindcore, it goes without saying that the genre’s greatest bands were heavily influenced by Discharge right from the off, albeit taking the ‘noise not music’ ethos to further extremes.
“I grew up listening to Discharge and hardcore,” said early ND vocalist Lee Dorian. “There was no time for fantasy or escapism in Napalm Death. That was literally just like banging your head against the wall until the wall broke or whatever.” Later line-ups were no less impressed, Napalm covering War’s No Fairytale on their 2004 record Leaders Not Followers: Part 2.
Over time, the sound of Oakland giants Neurosis evolved into the sonic sludge that we know and love today, but the band began their career in 1985, heavily influenced by the likes of Crass, Amebix, and yes, you guessed it, those four blokes from Stoke-On-Trent.
“Discharge was my gateway to punk,” vocalist/guitarist Steve Von Till told The Guardian. “They bridged the gap between Motorhead, Venom and punk rock. They had this huge fucking wall-of-sound guitar that was just ridiculously punishing, taking on heavy metal’s gain and volume but creating something totally unique and new that didn’t seem to have a pedigree you could trace.”
Not to be outdone by Metallica’s two covers, Sepultura have covered no less than three Discharge tunes – A Look At Tomorrow, Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing, and Protest And Survive – and played them live on numerous occasions. Indeed, former Sepultura drummer Iggor Cavalera recently joined the punk legends on stage in London, and upon leaving Sepultura to form Soulfly, his brother Max covered the Discharge classic Ain’t No Feeble Bastard. And played it live.
Machine Head vocalist/guitarist Robb Flynn has never been less than forthcoming about his love of punk rock in general and Discharge in particular. Indeed, when his band played their secret set at this year’s Bloodstock festival (right before Discharge) he went so far as to describe them as “the greatest band of all time!” As early as 1997 Machine Head were covering The Possibility Of Life’s Destruction, a bonus track on their second LP, The More Things Change. Much respect.
While Venom can reasonably take the credit for black metal – the genre as well as the album – that's not to say that those snotty oiks in Discharge didn’t also have a hand in its evolution. Indeed, Celtic Frost vocalist/guitarist Tom G Warrior frequently mentions both bands in the same sentence, crediting the punks as “a revolution.” "When I heard the first two Discharge records, I was blown away,” he said. “I was just starting to play an instrument and I had no idea you could go so far.”
According to Prong frontman Tommy Victor, the aim of their 2015 covers album, Songs From The Black Hole, was to “explore the vast landscape that makes up the band’s sound.” That rather bleak landscape of course includes – along with the likes of Bad Brains and Killing Joke – Discharge and a ripping rendition of Doomsday.
“Discharge was an early influence,” said Victor. “The first Prong record Primitive Origins almost sounds like Discharge in a lot of ways – like this primal English hardcore sound.”
Admittedly, Dogstar are far from the biggest band on our list, and with the greatest respect, far from the best. But if one is searching for the wide-ranging influence of Discharge then perhaps there is no better example than this California trio originally formed in 1991.
And if the name sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because their bassist and backing vocalist was none other than Hollywood superstar Keanu Reeves who recently listed Discharge as one of his all-time favourite bands. Having recently reformed, we await their cover of Maimed And Slaughtered with baited breath.
Let’s leave you with another little band whose name might ring a bell. In many ways it’s pretty obvious that the nine-headed Iowa monsters are Discharge fans, given the extreme nature of much of their music and the fact that frontman Corey Taylor has been very vocal about his love of punk rock.
Finding hard evidence, however, has proved surprisingly difficult until a thorough search of the interweb turned up an interview with none other than legendary drummer Joey Jordison from the ‘Knot’s first ever UK show in 1999. “We're very influenced by old crust punk and (we) like Discharge and grindcore, a lot of fast beats,” he said. Like we didn’t know...