Painkiller (band)

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Origin New York City, USA
Genres Avant-garde jazz, grindcore, experimental rock, death metal
Years active 1991–1995
and occasional reunions from 1997 onwards
Labels Earache
Members John Zorn
Bill Laswell
Past members Mick Harris
Cover art for Painkiller album Buried Secrets

Painkiller (also officially known as Pain Killer) is a band originally formed in 1991. Their style can be described as a mix of avant-garde jazz and grindcore; later albums also incorporated elements of ambient and dub.[1]

The three primary members of the band were: John Zorn on saxophone, Bill Laswell on electric bass and Mick Harris (formerly of Napalm Death and founding member of Scorn) on drums. The band has also had several musicians make guest appearances both live and in the studio, including Yamatsuka Eye, Buckethead, Mike Patton, Makigami Koichi, Justin Broadrick and G. C. Green of Godflesh, and Keiji Haino of Fushitsusha.

Harris departed from the band in 1995 to dedicate himself solely to computer music; following his departure many assumed that Painkiller was defunct. However, Zorn and Laswell resurrected the band name and played some dates generally with Yoshida Tatsuya playing drums. Hamid Drake also sat in on the occasion of their show during Zorn's 50th Birthday month run of shows at Tonic in NYC. That show (which also had Mike Patton guest) was released by Tzadik.

In 2008, Painkiller performed a one off show in France featuring the original line-up of Zorn, Laswell and Harris along with an appearance by both Fred Frith and Mike Patton.



  • Painkiller: The Collected Works (Tzadik, 1997) - compilation of the first two EPs with Execution Ground and a bonus live disc
  • Guts of a Virgin/Buried Secrets (Earache, 1998) - compilation of the first two EPs onto a single CD


  1. ^ Christie, I. Painkiller entry accessed 22 July 2008.