Napalm Death

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Napalm Death - Scum ©1987 Earache
1. Multinational Corporations
2. Instinct Of Survival
3. The Kill
4. Scum
5. Caught... In A Dream
6. Polluted Minds
7. Sacrificed
8. Siege Of Power
9. Control
10. Born On Your Knees
11. Human Garbage
12. You Suffer
13. Life?
14. Prison Without Walls
15. Point Of No Return
16. Negative Approach
17. Success?
18. Deceiver
19. C.S.
20. Parasites
21. Pseudo Youth
22. Divine Death
23. As The Machine Rolls On
24. Common Enemy
25. Moral Crusade
26. Stigmatized
27. M.A.D.
28. Dragnet

In retrospect it seems that Napalm Death's debut record, Scum, existed with the sole purpose of kicking off the grind phenomenon, a musical endeavor now in its third decade. It's a thoroughly ugly album, and it should be fairly apparent that the band (then very young and with a substantially different line-up) sought to create the meanest, filthiest sounding slab of punk angst ever recorded. While the music doesn't exactly bring the capitalist establishment to its knees, the anger seems quite genuine. All the grind clichés are set into place on Scum: the blast beat mayhem, the cackling distorted bass, the unintelligible vocals, and those kick-ass punk grooves. The young Lee Dorian and then-bassist Nik Bullen provide the aforementioned unintelligible vocals (literally sounding like "rah-rah-rah!"). The seemingly anonymous lyricists (Mick Harris?) offers a wonderful collection of un-ironic leftist hostility in fine political punk fashion; the second album, From Enslavement to Obliteration contains perhaps some of the best "critical thinking" lyrics ever penned - the lyrics here aren't quite as refined or thoughtful, and are obscured by the utterly insane vocal braying, but man, are they fun! Songs are short in the finest crust tradition (anywhere from five seconds to a minute and a half), comprised solely of blast beats and grooves, and frequently just blast beats. This album probably sounded pretty "out there" to a Reaganite world unaccustomed to grindcore mayhem; only in the U.K. could something like this be played on national radio. I'm very nostalgic about this record - it's the perfect room smashing disc for un-ironic leftists everywhere. Who can't rock out to such classic hits as "Instinct of Survival" or the title track, "Scum"?

Review by James Slone

Review date: 03/2001

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From Enslavement to Obliteration

Napalm Death - From Enslavement to Obliteration ©1988 Earache
1. Evolved as One
2. It's a M.A.N.S. World!
3. Lucid Fairytale
4. Private Death
5. Impressions
6. Unchallenged Hate
7. Uncertainty Blurs the Vision
8. Cock-Rock Alienation
9. Retreat to Nowhere
10. Think for a Minute
11. Display to Me...
12. From Enslavement to Obliteration
13. Blind to the Truth
14. Social Sterility
15. Emotional Suffocation
16. Practice What You Preach
17. Inconceivable?
18. Worlds Apart
19. Obstinate Direction
20. Mentally Murdered
21. Sometimes
22. Make Way!
23. Musclehead
24. Your Achievement
25. Dead
26. Morbid Deceiver
27. The Curse

To be honest, I've never quite known what to think of the long running Napalm Death, a band that has gone through so many lineup changes that I think someone franchised out the original band name and has been raking in those nickels ever since! Perhaps even dimes. Napalm Death was one of the most prominent "grindcore" bands, but I never have been sure if I should thank them or blame them for their influence over that particular substyle. It should be noted that Napalm Death moved on from this style quite some time ago and all the other grindcore bands are just adding noise to the signal ratio. Regardless of this, that and the other thing, it is safe to say that not much else sounded quite like Napalm Death on their first two full length releases. Scum and From Enslavement to Obliteration featured the band in their nascent form and may have entirely encapsulated the entire grindcore musical universe on those two records.

Although the album opener "Evolved as One" is a brutal doom metal number (perhaps foreshadowing singer Lee Dorian's Cathedral project, which he formed after leaving Napalm Death), the majority of this album is a blur of unhinged grindcore featuring Mick Harris' flurry of percussion, Dorian's maniacal grunts and entirely obfuscated guitar riffs. For those who like their songs to have a great deal of variety and distinction, this is not the record for you. At this point, Napalm Death made Sodom look like the pinnacle of polished arena rock. Napalm Death apparently aspired to created some of the ugliest music in existence and it's safe to say they came quite close, particularly in the context of 1988's music world. Tone Loc, this ain't.

It's fortunate this album has such a short running time. I can't imagine anyone, including the most dedicated grindcore fans in the world, wanting to hear this style for upwards of an hour. The CD version includes the brief The Curse EP as bonus tracks (two of which last all of seven seconds, which is plenty now that I think about it). Much like Scum before it, I find From Enslavement to Obliteration to be an amusing sideshow to the general heavy metal underground scene of the late 80s, but it's also hard to imagine being so into the band that I'd spend hours looking at their liner notes and thinking deep, academic thoughts about exactly what they were trying to express in their music.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2010

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