30 Years And 14 Albums Later...

Formed in Ipswich, England in 1982, the Godfathers of Grindcore, Napalm Death, are back after thirty years with their fourteenth studio album, Utilitarian, and are still as passionate as they ever were.

"What we do is fast, chaotic and off the rails. It's like Motorhead times 10. We work our arses off and we're driven by passion for what we do. We're always ready to eat shit and bullets, know what I mean?"

Yes, we know what you mean, Mark... Mark being Birmingham born, Mark 'Barney' Greenway (formerly of Benediction), who has been the lead singer in Napalm Death since 1989. When the band first emerged, they pushed the envelope of the metal genre to new extremes of ear-splitting intensity, purposefully avoiding any notions of melody to create a blistering attack on the senses. Their music became defined by the incredibly short song lengths (like the two-second You Suffer), demonic vocals and socio-political subject matter.

During the recording and production of their debut album, Scum, in 1987 via Earache, there were a number a of lineup changes which resulted in the two sides of the LP featuring almost entirely different band members. The first half featured guitarist Justin Broadrick and vocalist/bassist Nick Bullen, the flipside presented new vocalist Lee Dorrian, guitarist Bill Steer, and bassist Jim Whitely; only drummer Mick Harris played on every track. After Scum's release, it was largely ignored by the mainstream media, but was hugely successful across the global underground metal scene with one particularly famous advocate; John Peel. Peel regularly featured their track, You Suffer on his BBC Radio One show and later invited the band to record a legendary September 1987 Peel Session, introducing new bassist Shane Embury.

Napalm Death's musical output became more and more extreme over the coming years, with 1988's From Enslavement To Obliteration totalling an impressive 54 tracks, many at just a few seconds in length. Napalm Death were only just pipped to the post in breaking a world record for the world's shortest song, losing out to fellow Britcore peers, the Electro Hippies, with their one-second track, Mega Armageddon Death.

The band's name choice was an anti-war statement, aroused by the country's political leader at the time, Margaret Thatcher and the sham of the Falklands War. Singer, Greenway, is particularly passionate about the importance of what he calls, "a humane and ethical way of looking at the world".

"The paradox of this band is between the brutality of the music and the lyrics, which are humanitarian and pro-pacifist and deeply critical of injustice on any level. I like that contradiction, because life isn't always cut and dried. It's a mixed-up beast and Napalm Death is like that too."

Greenway has also described the few experiences in which they have been able to dip into the mainstream culture. Aside from Radio One, they also made a famous appearance on Chanel 4's TFI Friday, hosted by Chris Evans:

"I get a certain perverse kick out of ambushing the mainstream like that," says Greenway. "There's a great number of people who really get what we do, but at the same time it's great when we go out in front of people who have perhaps heard the name but not the music, and then we start playing and you see their stunned faces. That's some achievement when people are so blase about everything."

So with their fourteenth studio album on it's way, what can we expect from the Grindcore Godfathers? Well apparently, they are once more showcasing their love of experimentation, impenetrable noise and still a very strong desire to push the boundaries of music. Some of the tracks featured on the album include titles such as Protection Racket, Think Tank Trials and Everyday Pox, and are said to owe as much to bands like Sonic Youth, Swans and The Jesus And Mary Chain, as they do to straight-up metal/hardcore bands. Listen to Leper Colony, below:

Utilitarian will be released on the 27th of February via Century Media Records, and the next year will see Napalm Death play over a hundred shows across the world in the coming year, but for now I'll leave you with one thought from the band's singer:

"If your idea of music is something structured around a sensible, restrained, underlying beat, you're probably in the wrong place."

Full track-listing

  • Circumspect
  • Errors In The Signals
  • Everyday Pox
  • Protection Racket
  • The Wolf I Feed
  • Quarantined
  • Fall On Their Swords
  • Collision Course
  • Orders Of Magnitude
  • Think Tank Trials
  • Blank Look About Face
  • Leper Colony
  • Nom De Guerre
  • Analysis Paralysis
  • Opposite Repellent
  • A Gag Reflex
  • Aim Without An Aim *BONUS*
  • Everything In Mono *BONUS*

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