Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Napalm Death: "Apex Predator- Easy Meat"
For a long time as a young metal head I always assumed Napalm Death were the one metal band most punk rockers listened to so that made them inferior by association. In recent years I have gone back and rectified that oversight. After all they were the launching off point for many musicians I really like such as Justin Broadrick and Bill Steer On January 27th when the 15th studio album from the grind core legends Napalm Death drops with all it's crazed fury. The band could not sound better. I was shocked at how dense this album is. You can hear the influence Napalm Death has had on extreme metal. Listening to this album really schools you. In your face the band is like "Oh, yeah you thought Pantera was good , well here's where they got there hardcore edge from" or "You thought Oderus was a maniacal vocalist, here's Barney Greenway." and "Oh, yes Today is the Day" you can sign your royalty checks over to us now.
While known for being the blasting kings of grindcore, there is much more thought put into these songs. There are actual sung melodies at times. Not in the over done Killswitch Engage good cop/ bad cop trade off fashion, but they come in as needed to vary things a little. Greenway's vocals are extremely well produced. There is the perfect amount of grit distorting them. Right from the wrath of "Smash a Single Digit" the album doesn't relent. In most cases this would bore me, but these guys learned in the 14 albums they recorded before this one how to perfect what they do perfectly. Countless bands try to use their formula, so it makes sense that there is not an element of this album that sounds dated, which might not be the case with the new releases from other bands hailing from the early 80's
"Metaphorically Screw You" is the only song that seems it is rushed by you before you can absorb what hit, even with the really gut wrenching groove they hit midway through and "Timeless Flogging" also works off of a similar formula. "How the Years Condemn" finds bassist Shane Embury really killing with a more thrashy tone that he pounds into place through the jarring sonic lashing the rest of the band is giving. They kept a similar pacing up until the surprisingly melodic "Dear Slum Lord" that falls somewhere between Swans and Jesus Lizard. They continue to instigate collisions of punk and metal, that have recently become more common place with bands like Nails. Napalm Death being the masters of this can mold this feral chaos into effective songs like the lead single from the album "Cesspits". They hit just as hard as any younger band and do so with subtle smarts.
Drummer Danny Herrera who is also Anaal Nathrakh's live drummer earns his keep. He some how manages to hold all of this together with a concise and relentless fury. His playing is best showcased on the powerful pounding of "Beyond the Pale". Napalm Death is no except when it comes to the fact slowing down to savor the chug is the most effective tool in any band's arsenal.When the do numb you out with speed it is done in under three minute doses, and even then the piss and vinegar is given a sweet moshy chaser similar to what their American counterparts S.O.D did in the 80's.
Not devoid of dynamics this album still heeds to words of Bruce Banner and stays angry. Sometimes this anger allows for solos and sung vocals on songs like "Hierarchies". At other times the launch into the blasty mcnasties on "One Eyed", which almost borders on teaching today's crop of black metal a thing or two. They rein themselves in slightly on the closing hardcore madness that sounds like Gwar whacked out on pcp. The energy of this album raises the bar for older bands like Slayer, showing that you don't have to rely on your legacy. This really raises the bar for extreme metal in 2015. I'll round this one up to an 8.5 as I sure it will grow on me, even though grindcore isn't really my thing, I still respect what went into this album and if I am going to have one grindcore band on my iPod, why settle for anyone but Napalm Death.