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Metal Mondays: Escuela Grind is part of the constantly evolving metal underground

Escuela Grind, the Massachusetts grindcore unit, has been an underground hit since its debut album “Indoctrination.” I have wanted to see this band live for years, and while I haven’t gotten the chance to, I am hoping for Escuela Grind to come to Columbus or Athens. 

When “Indoctrination” was released in 2020, Escuela Grind proved itself to be an incredibly fresh, heavy take on the grindcore genre. Lead singer Katerina Economou’s vocals are some of the coolest in all of heavy music, drummer Jesse Fuentes crushes their performances on each song and guitarist Kris Morash produces some of the heaviest riffs I’ve ever heard.

But more important than the sonic elements of the trio’s music is the meaning behind it. Economou, who has an educational background in architecture and philosophy, often takes inspiration from thinkers like Plato and John Locke when writing lyrics, and they channel all their anger at the world into their music. Their goal when writing is to make listeners angry about the systemic issues that plague our world right now.

While political messaging is not something new for extreme metal genres like grindcore — which is chiefly inspired by thrash metal and punk music v— it has almost always been performed by straight white men. Escuela Grind, a group made up of people of color and LGBTQIA+ individuals, will have a very different perspective than pioneers of the genre like Napalm Death.

This is not to say that the message of bands like Napalm Death falls flat. The band’s album “Scum,” with a picture of rich people on the cover, is a classic in extreme metal circles. It is one of my favorites, and a lot of the songs still hold up today. 

Additionally, Napalm Death has inspired many other bands, and without it, we wouldn’t have Escuela Grind. But just because leftist ideology isn’t new to the extreme metal scene doesn’t mean it has always been welcoming to people who look different than the members of the band they are in.

With a high concentration of toxicity and gatekeeping in the metal genre, it can be very hard for people who do not fall into the white man category to enter the extreme metal underground. Additionally, many underground metal subgenres have a big fascism problem. Not only is black metal — a sect of extreme metal — pioneered and led by incredibly problematic bands, but I have also personally known friends who have witnessed Nazi salutes at death metal concerts.

These disgusting examples of hatred in metal’s more underground areas show why bands like Escuela Grind are an important part of the scene. While extreme metal spaces are often dominated by white men, Escuela Grind sets out to make its shows as inclusive as possible. Economou has even told Revolver, “Before we end our set we always make sure to give a really big shout-out to the girls, the gays, the theys, people of color, trans friends.”

It is still important for all bands to do this, regardless of how their members identify. And many bands do; Ghoul performs songs like “Nazi Smasher” regularly and Cancer Christ rages against religious oppression and hatred all across the country. While both bands are made up of people who may not be victims of systemic oppression, they are not harming anyone by standing against it.

Since Generation Z is helping to lead the metal renaissance, it makes sense that they would flock to bands that agree with their left-leaning opinions. It also makes sense that Gen Z would support more bands that match their diversity. Escuela Grind’s increasing popularity in the metal underground is a product of Gen Z’s influence on the genre.

Metal observers can easily notice this increase in diversity in heavy metal music scenes across the country. Bands like Scowl and GEL, which contain members who do not fall into the stereotypical idea of a metalhead, have been making waves in the contemporary underground world. Additionally, bands like Zulu and Speed have been making metal more inclusive for people of color and are actively fighting against the racism that has plagued heavy music.

Escuela Grind is my favorite example of my favorite trend in metal. The trio brings something to the table that hasn’t been seen in metal in a long time: an introspective look into the underground music scene’s toxicity. It is part of a constantly growing choir of screaming voices in the metal world, voices that are tearing down walls that have kept society’s outcasts out of a scene made for outcasts. When you listen to Escuela Grind’s incredibly heavy, angry music, you can feel the passion they are bringing to metal to help revitalize it for a new wave of fans.

Jackson McCoy is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to share your thoughts? Let Jackson know by emailing or tweeting him at jm049122@ohio.edu or @_jackson_mccoy_.

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