Friday, 23 January 2015

Napalm Death - Apex Predator - Easy Meat (Album Review)


Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 26/1/2015
Label: Century Media

‘Apex Predator – Easy Meat’ CD//LP//DD track listing:

1. Apex Predator - Easy Meat (3:46) 
2. Smash A Single Digit (1:25)
3. Metaphorically Screw You (2:05) 
4. How The Years Condemn (2:43) 
5. Stubborn Stains (3:02)
6. Timeless Flogging (2:26) 
7. Dear Slum Landlord… (1:59)
8. Cesspits (3:33)
9. Bloodless Coup (2:31) 
10. Beyond The Pale (3:03) 
11. Stunt Your Growth (2:06)
12. Hierarchies (3:13) 
13. One-Eyed (2:48) 
14. Adversarial / Copulating Snakes (5:17)

Napalm Death is:

Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway | vocals
Mitch Harris | Guitars
Shane Embury | bass
Danny Herrera | drums


When I heard that Napalm Death were releasing a new album, I decided that my perspective on the band would make for an interesting review. I hadn't listened to them in a good while, and by chance I had in my collection just one record from each of the decades of their existence except the 2010s – the seminal “Scum”, their mid-period death metal of “Utopia Banished” and their resurgent, resplendent fury of “Enemy of the Music Business”. In all honesty, I hadn't kept tabs on their goings on too keenly over the last few years, but nonetheless, I was excited as hell to give “Apex Predator – Easy Meat” a listen.

It's fair to say that since I heard blast beats for the very first time on the aforementioned “Enemy of the Music Business” nearly ten years ago, my music collection has covered pretty much every facet of metal. You could say I have been somewhat numbed to what the genre offers. Yet the way the second track on this record, “Flash a Single Digit” jumped out of my speakers, it was almost as if it was 2006 all over again, such were the levels of excitement and awe it produced.

It is worth noting here the origins of the grindcore genre. Mick Harris, who was a key part of early Napalm Death, coined the term, seeing it as a marriage between the bleak trudge of early Swans and the frenetic nature of hardcore punk. These two elements are here for all to see on the opener, with its nihilistic percussion and anti-music guitars, it has the hallmarks of Greed-era Swans, and the rest of the disc is littered with punk attitude and energy. Barney Greenway is still as vitriolic as ever, and the experimental nature of his vocal delivery (as well as the rest of the band's contributions) on the title track, “Dear Slum Landlord...” and the almost anthemic “Hierarchies” will have detractors who might accuse the band of treading water eating their words.

The axework supplied by Mick Harris and Shane Embury is as gripping as ever, this despite the fact that between them they must have written over a thousand riffs in their careers. On a track like “Metaphorically Screw You” they mix punk riffage with the kind of stuff that Erik Rutan churns out with death metal titans Hate Eternal to joyful effect. It would be unfair not to mention Danny Herrera's contributions on drums: he is way more creative and compelling than the majority of extreme metal acts out there today, and it's anyone's guess how his arms are still intact after a lifetime of bashing drums into oblivion.

On “Apex Predator – Easy Meat”, Napalm Death reinforce their position as a band that has the kind of intensity that has been imitated by many yet equalled by few. It's an overwhelming and essential listen, all the more of an achievement given it's their fifteen studio album.

Words by: Jack Taylor

You can pick up this record everywhere on 26/1/2015.

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