Review Summary: Napalm Death still deliver a wallop to the head.
Forming in 1981 and taking their bloody time in creating what is considered the mantle piece in grindcore, 1987s Scum
was a quick blast of crust punk and hardcore that would up the tempo speed within heavy metal and redefine what it meant to be aggressive. Today, Napalm Death is all but a grain of sand on a beach in the ever-populous world that heavy metal has become. They have gained tremendous respect from their peers within the genre and have been branded legendary status as the grind godfathers because of their genre defining albums and continuing efforts throughout many albums and band member changes over the past 20 years. However, does Napalm Death remain relevant throughout today’s bludgeoning metal scene? A scene that has so many new and rising stars that continue to steal the spotlight, all the while ploughing away (or outright plagiarizing) at the framework that Napalm Death created so long ago? The answer to this question can be found throughout their stellar discography that has remained underground in terms of popularity since Scum
. Just listen to Napalm’s early 90s essentials such as Utopian Banished
, Fear, Emptiness, Despair
for a good example of how grind/ death metal should be done. Napalm’s continuing mixture of grind and death metal covered in a thin coat of crust continued into the early 00s albums with Order of the Leech
that finds the band at their most speedy and politically charged best.
Order of the Leech
isn’t just heavy as ***, it absolutely annihilates everything in its path without becoming overly repetitive (well, for the most part that is). And really, to call Napalm Death grindcore is kind of doing the band an injustice. Death metal and thrashy grooves are fused together with such speedy accuracy, forcing a listener to blow chunks with the dizzying array of rhythm changeups and mind boggling profusion of technicality. Jesse Pintado (RIP) and Mick Harris are riffing monsters on this album, fusing thrash, a bit of grind, and death metal assaults into one solid frontline of blasting guitars. Both guitarists are accompanied by an equally impressive rhythm section that consists of Shane Embury (the only remaining original member) on bass and Danny Herrera on drums who channel their energy into creating spastic rhythm changes; seamlessly connecting blast beats, death metals tight chops, and crusty punk-rocks fast paced gallops. Noteworthy vocalist Barney Greenway’s muddy growls perfectly compliment the chaos. His quick vocal lashings filled with political anarchy (taken from “Continuing War on Stupidity”: Thatcher, Reagan, Bush – that’s one three headed beast/ It’s the loathing behind the eyes/ And when those eyes conceal the zealot/ Whiter then white, but the robots buy it/ They clap and cheer
) have never been so straight forward and blunt. Actually, for that fact, his themes haven’t changed much since 1987. These repetitive subjects are just one complaint a listener could make about this band. However, long time fans of Napalm wouldn’t have it any other way though. Napalm Death have always been pissed off with the state of the world and any other lyrical content would be considered unacceptable.
Unrelenting and pulverizing are what Napalm Death specialize in on Order of the Leech
and only deliver the goods without a scrap of filler. To reiterate a question that popped up earlier in this review, “Does Napalm Death remain relevant throughout today’s bludgeoning metal scene”? The proof to this in Order of the Leech
that will make the poser grind bands poop their pants and seal the lid on Napalm Death being one of the premium acts in metal over the last 20 years. On one final note, as serious as Napalm Death is about their politically charged death-grind, listen to the secret song contained at the end of this suffocating album for a rather satirical bit of humour (taken from “The Great Capitulator” @ 9:57 in: Greetings, my name is Will and I’m a total back trash grind freak from the Czech Republic……