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  • Words by Scott Emery

DARK MATTER WEBZINE'S TOP 5 NAPALM DEATH RECORDS OF ALL TIME


With UK grindfathers Napalm Death about to drop their 16th album, there seemed no better time to look back across the bands storied and long history, via five of what I consider to be some of their most pivotal and influential work. Whilst none of the original members of the band remain from their birth in 1981, the main core of the band as it is today, bassist Shane Embury, vocalist Barney Greenway and drummer Danny Herrera, have been in place since 1991. Without the Birmingham grind stalwarts it’s hard to picture what the UK extreme music landscape would look like. In fact their influence is so much wider-reaching than that, having influenced countless bands across the globe.

As a fan myself for around 30 years, writing this piece is not only a privilege but an incredibly tough task narrowing it down to just 5 albums but here we go!

SCUM (1987)

Whilst 1988s ‘From Enslavement To Obliteration’ is a more cohesive and arguably better album than ‘Scum’, there is no doubt that the debut album is infinitely more of a pivotal moment in not only the band’s history, but the entire grindcore landscape. The two sides of the album were recorded by almost entirely different lineups, drummer Mick Harris being the only mainstay through the album. The first side features the only album recording featuring founding member Nick Bullen on bass and vocals and future Godflesh figurehead Justin Broadrick on guitar. Side 2 sees them replaced by Carcass guitar player Bill Steer, former Unseen Terror member Shane Embury on bass and future Cathedral frontman Lee Dorian on vocals. And it’s not just the veritable who’s who of UK extreme music featured here than makes this album important, but tracks like ‘The Kill’, title track ‘Scum’ and the infamous, under-two-second shotgun blast that is ‘You Suffer’ deliver a real punch and are still often included in live sets over 30 years later. Sure the production is scruffy (the first side was really only recorded as a demo) and the sonic difference between the 2 line-ups can be a little jarring but the venom and lyrical awareness the band are famed for are all here in their rawest form.

UTOPIA BANISHED (1992)

By the time this album had arrived in 1992, bassist Shane Embury was the only member from ‘Scum’ still left. Two years prior had seen the first appearances on record of former Benediction frontman Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway, former Righteous Pigs member Mitch Harris and Terrorizer’s Jesse Pintado both on guitar. They had recorded ‘Harmony Corruption’ which ruffled more than a few fans with its more death metal approach and production (courtesy of Florida death metal production legend Scott Burns at the infamous Morrisound studios). ‘Utopia Banished’ saw new drummer Danny Herrera brought on