Sounds Like: Short, insanely intense bursts of socially conscious punk-fuelled grinding.
For Fans Of: Helpless, Cocaine Piss, Napalm Death.
Listen To: #GTFO
“For some time you could say that heavy genres were thought of as a boys’ club,” suggests Lisa Mungo, vocalist in Seattle-based grind/crossover crew Fucked & Bound. “Now there’s interest in art being made by strong women, and for good reason. One might suggest that in a broader sense, if you only listen to one thing, it’s going to get boring. One might also suggest that women have been making great music the whole time, and it’s partly the responsibility of listeners to demand it and drive the interest. In the end, women and those who support them are making a big push, and we’re starting to see a demand that reflects that.”
Now, bands as varied as Chelsea Wolfe, Code Orange, Oathbreaker, Employed To Serve and Myrkur, are making sublime music while eschewing perspectives of what it means to be a woman in metal, and refusing to compromise the extremity of their art. In a world where we’ve been told that there is no new ground to mine in modern music, is just being yourself the most original approach to take? Is that heavy music’s final taboo?
“I feel what you’re throwing down,” Lisa replies, thoughtfully, before adding: “We must then ask, is it the last taboo because ‘heavy’ belongs to men? Do men have to pass the torch for women to be allowed to have deep, heavy emotion and express it? What if the last bit of shock theatre is watching people reckon with the ideas they’ve built their identities around? Art can be fun or challenging. It’s about what you’re willing to put into it, hard you’re willing to think about it in the process. Four dudes playing some killer thrash can be super-entertaining, I get that it doesn’t have to be a deep, philosophical experience, but female entertainers in the heavy music scene and beyond are doing both. Once everyone gets over the shock, we can get back to enjoying the show.”
It’d be ideal if it were that simple, but you only have to recall the whining in certain sections of our scene when Venom Prison released their debut album, Animus, which featured art showing three women castrating a male rapist. Isn’t that the exact kind of tableaux that has depicted women in various similar states over the years in the death metal scene?
“It’s definitely a double standard,” nods Lisa. “So it shocked people and made them feel uncomfortable. That’s a better use of shock than some assclown in corpsepaint throwing a Sieg Heil for the approval of internet trolls. Maybe it will make people ask themselves why they felt uncomfortable.”
It’s that kind of determined state of mind that’s driven Fucked & Bound’s debut album, Suffrage. A 21-minute ball of sonic fury that takes the white-hot blueprint of early hardcore and grindcore and gives Lisa the chance to express her frustrations over the top of it.
“I wrote about things I’ve always found fascinating or troubling,” explains Lisa of the album’s lyrical narrative. “Nihilism, wage slavery, mainstream misogyny… and it appears at least a couple of people feel the same way I do, but with that comes responsibility. The lyrics were always meant to strike more of a conversational tone, rather than provide answers, but if someone wants clarity on something I say or do I have no problem engaging in a direct, meaningful exchange.”
One of the album’s most powerful moments, the seething #GTFO, is Lisa detailing the trials of being a woman working behind a bar, as she does when she’s not fronting Fucked & Bound.
“People get drunk and forget their humanity,” she sighs. “They become verbally and sometimes physically abusive to service personnel. People who get abused on a daily basis then forget their own humanity. It’s a fucking vicious cycle and it’s sad that we don’t do more to protect the interests of industry workers. That makes it extra-cathartic to play live.”
The world is changing, our scene is changing, and Fucked & Bound are the perfect soundtrack to it.
Suffrage is out now via Atomic Action