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‘Slave to the Grind’ delves deep into the chaos of grindcore

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Slave to the Grind is a documentary focused on grindcore.
Blood-soaked performers eating fake limbs are par for the course in the grindcore genre, examined in director Doug Brown's "Slave to the Grind" doc. Photo courtesy Calgary Underground Film Festival.

If you’re not familiar with Napalm Death, Pig Destroyer or Carcass, it’s likely you’re not well-versed in the history of the grindcore genre, an extreme melding of hardcore punk, heavy metal, and – as Slave to the Grind director Doug Brown puts it – “the most abrasive” sounds out there.

“The etymological origins (of the term grindcore) comes from the sounds of grinding gears,” Brown said. “It’s supposed to be kind of irritating and uncomfortable sounding. There’s not a lot of order to the song structure – it’s generally very fast, extreme and intense sounding music. There’s a level of abrasion and intensity to it.”

The genre’s roots can be traced back to the 1980s, with the Birmingham-hailing Napalm Death generally credited as being among the early pioneers in the genre. Other groups, such as Repulsion and Brutal Truth, made major contributions.

Brown, an avid record collector, initially came to the genre in high school through Soilent Green, a Louisiana-based grindcore band. Despite being blown away by the group’s sound, he at the time was unaware that they were part of a larger movement and couldn’t verbalize what he liked about the sound.

“Once I realized that not only is there a word for (groups like Soilent Green and Napalm Death), there’s an entire community of like-minded people who are in it for the sole purpose of creating very destructive-sounding music with no aspirations of success,” he said. “It was very liberating. All of a sudden what I was hearing was that it was heavy, it was faster than anything I had ever heard before – it literally sounded like wind coming over me. It was so visceral and singular.”

Soilent Green’s Leaves of Three, from the album Confrontation (2005).

Brown began to learn as much as he possibly could about the genre. He attended grindcore shows in Toronto, meeting other fans who hailed from all walks of life.

“People are drawn to chaos. I don’t think we’re a civil group, as much as we are very civilized in the day-to-day, but if most people were given the opportunity to unleash and let loose, they would probably take it if they knew there was zero consequence,” Brown said. “And there are a group of like-minded people out there who just happen to express that musically, where there are never any consequences – especially when everyone is doing it so positively. So the types of people you’ll see there? You’ll see a lot of parents. The types of people who get very excited over chaos.”

A high school film studies teacher by trade, Slave to the Grind is Brown’s second documentary, having previously completed Never Enough, a feature-length look at why people collect. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Brown said he was in the “right place at the right time” to complete the first documentary on grindcore. All told, Brown spent four years collecting footage and meeting the pioneers of the genre.

“Working on this film has been me realizing how deep this history is, but also me realizing how little I knew going into it. Here I am, going in, thinking I have hundreds of grindcore albums and I can explain how important the variations of the sound are,” he said. “But spending time with these musicians made me realize what it actually meant to live on the road for all those years – what that really does to the human psyche. You realize, as much as I can study I will never truly understand.”

The final film features footage from nine countries and four continents, filmed over four years. Brown pulled together the film from 70 interviews that ranged between one to three hours each, all while working full-time and having his second daughter. The film features interviews with many of Brown’s favourite grindcore artists.

“It was amazing. (Meeting my heroes) is everything you would hope it would be, but in the case of grindcore, it’s actually true. They are taking time off of their work to go on tour. I look at all the bands I’ve interviewed, maybe two of the bands can do it full time,” he said. “Immediately you’re on the exact same level as everyone else on a socioeconomic level – everyone understood everyone else’s struggles. Everyone has mortgages. It’s like you’re a rock star but you remove all glamour.

“And I truly believe this – Metallica. I really like Metallica, they’re a great band. But I think they would be releasing better albums if they were still broke. If they were still struggling in their art. The struggle in itself was quite amazing to see.”

Though every filmmaker’s goal is to get people to see their films, Brown said if he set out to please everyone, he would please no one.

“I know I have accomplished – this is certainly because I am a school teacher making this film, it’s the academic side of it all – every single thing can be analyzed and every single thing can be presented in a way that anyone can enjoy,” he said. “This is not a concert film. It’s primarily a historical talking head-style documentary intermixed with some gruesome animations. So I really hope that anyone reading this is interested in learning about subculture and learning about music that you would never hear about, this is certainly the film for you.”

Check out the trailer below.

Slave to the Grind premieres at the Calgary Underground Film Festival April 21. For more information, visit grindcorefilm.com

 

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Schitt’s Creek to conclude after next season

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The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will conclude with its sixth and final season, star and co-creator Dan Levy announced in a statement today. Photo courtesy CBC.
The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will conclude with its sixth and final season, star and co-creator Dan Levy announced in a statement today. Photo courtesy CBC.

The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will end at the conclusion of its sixth season, series co-creator and star Dan Levy announced March 21.

“We are so grateful to have been given the time and creative freedom to tell this story in its totality, concluding with a final chapter that we had envisioned from the very beginning,” Levy said in a statement. “It’s not lost on us what a rare privilege it is in this industry to get to decide when your show should take its final bow.”

Schitt’s Creek premiered on CBC in 2015, becoming one of the network’s most successful half-hour comedies ever. The show follows the fish-out-of-water Rose family, forced to assimilate into a small town after they lose their family fortune.

Though the show’s first season received mixed reviews, it grew in regard with both fans and critics over subsequent iterations. Schitt’s Creek’s fifth season, which premiered on January 8, 2019, scored a 100 per cent “Fresh” ranking on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.

The show is also among select company among Canadian sitcoms, drawing strong viewership in the United States and elsewhere thanks to distribution on Netflix and the American Pop network. Critics have reacted favourably to recent episodes, with TV Guide’s Megan Vick writing that each season of Schitt’s Creek has “gotten better and better.”

Read Levy’s full statement below.

New episodes of Schitt’s Creek air Tuesday nights at 9/9:30 NT on CBC.

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Watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short “Animal Behaviour”

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The National Film Board of Canada is offering Canadians the opportunity to watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short film "Animal Behaviour" until the end of today. Photo courtesy NFB
The National Film Board of Canada is offering Canadians the opportunity to watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short film "Animal Behaviour" until the end of today. Photo courtesy NFB

To get prepped for the 91st Academy Awards, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is offering Canadians the chance to check out Animal Behaviour, nominated tonight in the Best Animated Short Film category.

Animal Behaviour is a new short from Alison Snowden and David Fine, who previously won an Oscar in 1994 for Bob’s Birthday. The short is the 75th Oscar nomination for the NFB, and the first short film for Snowden and Fine since Bob’s Birthday. The 91st Oscars air tonight at 8 Eastern on ABC and CTV.

Watch Animal Behaviour below (expires tonight).

Next up on The Mutt: Wynonna Earp future in doubt as Season 4 delayed

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Wynonna Earp future in doubt as Season 4 delayed

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Wynonna Earp Season 3 Episode 11/12 - "Daddy Lessons/War Paint". Photo courtesy Bell Media
Wynonna Earp Season 4 is in jeopardy, according to the The Hollywood Reporter, due to financial difficulties. Photo courtesy Space

All of a sudden, Wynonna Earp is in Purgatory.

Earpers were stunned Thursday night when executive producer and showrunner Emily Andras posted (and subsequently deleted) a tweet suggesting that fans of the show may soon have to fight for it. Another tweet, posted shortly later, took a decidedly more straight-forward approach.

Andras appeared to be responding to the news that funding for the fourth season of Wynonna Earp appeared to be on shaky ground, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter. According to THR, financial challenges faced by IDW Entertainment have stalled production on Season 4, despite the company being contractually obligated to deliver the show to Syfy.

In response to the news, Earpers took to Twitter with the hashtag #FightForWynonna, which at the time of publication was one of the top Twitter trends in Canada. Though Season 4 has yet to be officially cancelled, IDW has yet to commit to a start date for the new season.

“IDW is committed to continuing to tell the Wynonna Earp story,” the company said in a statement posted to Twitter. “Much like the fans, we are passionate about not only the series, but the comics, the characters and the overall message that the Wynonna Earp franchise carries. We are in the process of working out the details for how the Wynonna story will continue and will share new details very soon.”

Our resident Earper, Ghezal Amiri, was a big fan of Season 3, writing that the show’s season finale, entitled “War Paint”, was a “wildly emotional conclusion.” Read her recap here.

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