Napalm Death's debut album, Scum, was recorded throughout 1986 and released in 1987, and defines grindcore music to this day. Mick Harris, the drummer, was the first to coin the term, and the band was the first to apply a sound to the genre. While there were bands playing the same sort of music, it was Napalm Death who gave it direction and shaped it into what it is today.
It was a revolution in heavy music. Napalm Death made a name for themselves off their own style of music, and the surprising success of the song "You Suffer" (which is probably due to the song being around a second in length). Scum has twenty-eight tracks and is around thirty-six minutes long, with few songs breaching the two minute barrier. The drumming is usually either a very fast, near punkish "doop-chick", or it is signature grind drumming: extremely fast, pounding double bass and snare offbeats. The bass is heavily distorted and the guitar moves over chords at breakneck speed, carrying obvious hardcore punk and metal influences. The production is muddy (this was 1987 and released on Earache, a relatively small label), but it gives a very raw sound and demands more volume.
From the second Scum begins, you know it's going to be a ride; "Multinational Corporations" comes in with cymbal hits and some noise, and then "Instinct Of Survival" begins the journey that tears through any standards that the metal world had at the time. While songs like "The Kill" and "Life"" are around thirty seconds and hastily tear through a musical idea, this is not all the record has to offer (even though it would still make the album worthwhile). Songs like "Scum", and especially the longest track, "Siege Of Power", churn though structured riffs and beating rhythms and sound phenomonal all the while. "Siege Of Power" even has an excellent solo!
Like most Napalm Death albums, this can become a real chore to listen to if you're not paying attention... the riffs and songs will blend together quickly. This is the problem most have with this music, but the simplest way to get past it is to listen to what's really going on. "Caught... In A Dream" may be mindless pounding and riffage to some, but others (such as myself) will hear the awesome drumming and storming guitars. Napalm Death do a great job of spicing this album up, though; songs like "Sacrificed" and "Human Garbage" provide great changes of pace when it's needed.
While the production is by no means excellent and the novelty may have worn off on many, this is still an excellent album and retains the energy and intensity Napalm Death put into these songs. While the novelty of grindcore has worn off over the years, Scum is still a valuable contribution to heavy music and is listenable even after all these years.
Recommended Songs: "Scum", "Siege Of Power", "Caught... In A Dream", "Born On Your Knees", "Human Garbage", "Dragnet"