It’s been five years, five long years, since the exceptional ‘Apex Predator – Easy Meat’. The band have been on an unstoppable roll of exceptional releases since the turn of the millennium so you can excuse them for taking a bit of a break between records, but there’s always a lingering concern that their incredible momentum could be broken.
From the second the opening track ‘Fuck The Factoid’ kicks in, all concerns are blown completely out of the water. It’s the grindfathers at their raging best, a sonic punch to the throat that never takes it foot off the gas. The band sound as vital, energised and fully pissed off as ever.
But Napalm have become far more than just a grind band over their long and storied tenure. ‘Contagion’ harnesses the groove they perfected during the mid to late 90s and seamlessly melds into the melting pot of fury without diluting any of the impact. Then you have tracks like ‘Joie De Ne Pas Vivre’ and album closer ‘A Bellyful of Salt and Spleen’ carrying undeniable industrial vibes, in fact the latter wouldn’t feel out of place on a Godflesh album. Then you have the wondrous post-punk vibes of ‘Amoral’ thrown into the mix as well, a clear indication that the band are never content to stand still and never fear exploring avenues that take the listener into the unexpected.
Lyrically, the album packs a vital punch from the get-go. Hearing Barney spew “Filthy fucking factoid epidemic sprouting norms, and in the process, hobbling outcasts who already fell short, but tell the baying throng the strays have run amok” is a direct thumb in the eye to how we are fed information in the modern world. The band continue to be relevant in every way, lyrically and musically.
It would also be remiss not to mention the stellar production job by long time collaborator Russ Russell. You can tell why the band keep returning to him, he has a perfect ear on how to express the band’s sonic vision and vital live energy into a fantastic recording.
16 albums in and the band are as good as they have ever been. Napalm Death are as essential to extreme music as Black Sabbath were to the very genesis of metal itself. This is a perfect album for imperfect times.
'Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism' is out now via Century Media