The Birthday Party
No band fully embodied the word "cacophony" more than the Birthday Party. Much like the Harold Pinter play from which they took their name, their music was dark, comical and grotesque. The Australian-born band blew apart London in the early '80s with their discordant, difficult blend of punk rock and theatrics. Though existing only from the years 1980 to 1983, their live sonic assaults were extremely influential, as was Nick Cave's singing, which was more akin to the shrieks of a demented nineteenth century inmate on his way to the asylum. The banging percussion of "Sometimes Pleasureheads Must Burn" and the stop/start confrontational screams of "Release the Bats" or "Big Jesus Trash Can" were actually capable of instigating fear. The Birthday Party opened music up like a fresh wound, showing something ugly, frightening and beautiful that is still hard to look at.