When Napalm Death's seminal debut, "Scum", rolled round the corner at the turn of the decade, many people were horrified and highly amused at their musical exploits. The music was loud, the vocals were...loud (and indecipherable, ironically just like their gruesome logo). But whatever kind of metal head you were / are, you could not have estimated Napalm Death's undeniable influence upon an entire genre. It's quite odd, and even an amazing achievment, that from the Grindcore period, Napalm Death are still creating new and excitingly different albums. You know, it almost brings a tear to my eye it does..
It also must be stressed that I am not going to be doing a track by track for this review, it is one of those albums that I really feel must be listened to all the way through. You can't engage with it by listening to say 3 or 4 songs, it is an album with an outspoken political message, yet is (usually!) loved by all who hear it.
At first I didn't particularlly enjoy the music of Napalm Death. I will admit, I am a man of many tastes, yet something about their music was undeniably sloppy. So scouring for hidden meaning I trawled the internet for their lyircs. I stumbled upon them, and bracing myself for lines about "Splattered guts on walls", I got ready.. But I was highly suprised at what I found, because it seems that Napalm Death really do know what they're talking about. And what is that, I hear you ask? Well, they talk about everything. Religion, Left wing politics, death..the lot.
So away be my story! I could ramble on all day about how much Napalm Death mean to me, but you wouldn't want to hear it!
Released 18 years (I know, doesn't time fly?) after Scum, "The Code Is Red..", is not only a startlingly brutal album, it also has some really odd satrical messages behind it.
For one excellent example, I shall quote the album's single, "The Silence Is Deafening".
Originally Posted by Napalm Death - The Silence Is Deafening
Empower those who serve to deflect suspicious minds
Action and answers as likely as a reversal of time
Musically, the song is starkly contrast to the lyrics contained, yet the song manages to become a highly listenable number. Half way through the song, Barney orders the band to a groovey halt, whereby the song enters a new level of amazingness.
And so begins the album, in quite a startlingly enticing manner I think you'll agree. The pace doesn't slow down for one minute though, as the second track (and the shortest on the album, clocking in at just 52 seconds) "Right You Are", pummels you into submission. You'd be right at this point to suggest that the album is not light work, but it really is worth sticking with it, trust me.
"Oh great, there's a load of brutal tracks. I don't wanna hear about that", I hear you mutter. But does it work as an album? In the same way as..Scum worked?
Yes, it absolutely does.
With an absolutely excellent 16 (some say 15, some say 19, well my version has 16) tracks, you'd be hard pushed to find an album with a better value-per-message. You don't have to take my word for it though, for example, if you really wanted, you could get the album!
I shall now thusly go through my favourite tracks on the album.
#1: Silence Is Deafening,
Being as it is the single released from the album, Napalm Death would have to surpass themselves. In this song they get down to the point instantly. There's no "Multi-National Corporations", style track, which sets an eerie mood for the album, oh no, this song gets right down to the point, with some angry, repugnant drumming, and excellently brutal and fast guitar work. Greenway (a superbly apt takeover from Dorian in my eyes) then yells his intent, at the big corporations. It's a frightening song, yet one that you feel hard pushed by not liking. As I have prior mentioned, the song has a midway breakdown, in which drums bass and guitar all phase out..Before all coming together again in one doom-style groove. It's an excellent (near) 4:00, and sets the tone for the album beautifully. A standout in any right.
#2: Right You Are,
Not slowing down a bit, Right You Are (if anything) nothces the pace up a few more knots, taking the blast snare and sickening guitars to an almost unbearably heavy level. Meh, I may be exagerating, but this is a hell of a good song. With some great lyrics, "A tedious high view for all occasions, Right you are!", Greenway really hits the nail on the head with this one, as he has a cracking go at globalisation and capitalism. The song is finnished with Greenway demanding the fatcats "Go cut out your treacherous tongue!". An excellent song.
#4: The Code Is Red...Long Live The Code,
In a brutal cataclysmic song which deals with poverty, and new regime, Dorian screams, "The code is red... Long live the code
Lighting the way to a panic mode!", it's a frightening proclaimation, yet it somehow seems fitting. Once again, the song doesn't waste precious time on little intros or the likes, it gets straight into the action, and after no hiatus at all, hurls you into a sickening death waltz. It's a superb song, both lyrically and musically. Being the title track, it is also one of the best on the album.
#9: All Hail The Grey Dawn,
"Minors feed the majors, all hail the grey dawn, where hopes dissolve in rainstorms", a horrible lyric, which is complimented by the no-end of heavy guitars and snare beats. This song is one of (if not) my favourite off the album, and as a result, I can't get enough of it. In this song particular, the bass stands out excellently, and manages to convey the horribleness of the "Grey Dawn". A superb song, and also one of the longest, (The longest being "Morale"), clocking in at 4:14.
#15: Our Pain Is Their Power..,
For some people reading this who have the album, you may be asking why I have chosen this as a standout. Sure, it's an instrumental, it's only 2:09 long, and it's not a particularlly "good" song, by Napalm Death's standards. But you're wrong I tells ya! This song gets the standout, because of it's sheer eerieness. You don't get any lyrics, or clues as to what it's about, yet you know someone's been betrayed, or something of the likes. It's a very eerie song with a searing, knife like feedback, and some Doom style guitar work. Still, it's one of my favourites off the album.
So there are the "essential", tracks that must be downloaded.
As for this album, if you're a fan of any extreme metal at all, yet you have a punk's political conciounce, you couldn't do much worse than this. There are practically no low points, and every track is a seminal piece to the album. A superb album, which shows that Napalm Death (in their 24th year of existance) are not slowing down, or even showing signs that they are about to.
A masterwork in metal, and my favourite album released last year by a mile.