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Napalm Death – Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism

Napalm Death
Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism
by "Der Bärtige Mann" Gareth Beams at 26 September 2020, 4:57 PM

NAPALM DEATH, they are thought of as one of the founders of Grindcore, also contributing heavily to the extreme spectrum of metal and punk. Many consider REPULSION the true founders and legends of Grindcore, but this is debatable because technically NAPALM DEATH formed before them. Originally, on their first few demos, NAPALM DEATH was a peace punk band going under different names such as Political Unrest and Civil Defence, but most of the band names were relating to political/social things. However, they decided to stick with NAPALM DEATH because it was "different" and best described how they felt. The only tracks officially available from this era is "The Crucifixion of Possessions" from the 1984 Crass Records compilation Bullshit Detector Vol 3, and "What is My Country?" and "The Good Book" from the 1982 "Ruptured Gut" tape compilation.

After Guitarist Justin Broadrick joined the band, they began to incorporate Extreme Metal influences and eventually would evolve into Grindcore. Their main source of inspiration originally came from bands like DISCHARGE, SIEGE and D.R.I.. According to Albert Mudrian (founding editor-in-chief of Decibel Magazine), Mick Harris first coined the term "Grindcore", although this is debatable. Also, Harris is credited with coining the term "blast beat" as well when describing his unique style of drumming (at the time). Countless metal bands have been heavily influenced by this style since. For years the band was considered to be one of the most extreme bands ever. They were notorious during their grindcore days for selling out shows at the infamous Mermaid Club in Birmingham. They gave light to the club and created a huge metal/punk movement with their music in the UK. Such shows that were played at the Mermaid Club were with the likes of other grind and punk bands like HERESY, EXTREME NOISE TERROR, DIRGE, RIPCORD and even had the chance to open for one of their main influences, DISCHARGE.

Lee Dorrian was the "Grindcore"-era vocalist for NAPALM DEATH. He left the band later on the upcoming third full-length release because the band wanted to pursue a more death metal-influenced style. He later went on to form doom/stoner legends CATHEDRAL. Because of this, Mark "Barney" Greenway was recruited from BENEDICTION because he was their roadie while playing shows in the UK and had always been a long time fan of the group. NAPALM DEATH were one of the first signed bands on the legendary death/grind label Earache (Scum being the third album to be released on the label, cataloged at MOSH3.) With the inception of the album From Enslavement to Obliteration in 1988, NAPALM DEATH had, against all expectations, broken into the mainstream by debuting at Number 1 on the UK Indie charts, scoring the label's first NME front cover and radio sessions with noted BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, who had typically supported the sound from its inception. Lee Dorian was once asked to play with hardcore punkers ICONS OF FILTH, which would've been his first band. He ended up buying a bass guitar to fill in the position, but the band broke up when he was ready to join. Original members of NAPALM DEATH: Nik Bullen, Mick Harris and Justin K. Broadrick later reunited to form the industrial dub act SCORN. Mick Harris currently runs this act solo. Long-running guitarist Jesse Pintado died August 27, 2006 of a diabetic coma in a Holland Hospital.

Fuck the Factoid” kicks off right from the start, which is very much to be expected. The full pace and power from the off, its standard for NAPALM DEATH and hits levels that you would be expecting, even if they slow down slightly, only by their own standards of course. The beat and tempo never fall truly below anything that you would not expect. However, this has a much more Death Metal feel that their usual stuff, which is a decent option to be able to throw out. There is even more technical play towards the end that just wasn’t expected. Good start though

Backlash Just Because” rolls out with a Hardcore style of sound, which I was again not expecting. The tempo is not as intense as the previous song and it never seems to fully kick off. The overall feel to the song is decent, but seems a bit subdued as to what you’d normally expect. It’s a good length, old school punk is clearly infused within this song and the thrashing around works well together, to create a song that could have done more, but still works well enough to keep the standards set down. “That Curse of being in Thrall” kicks off once more with a full frenzied attack, this is more like what I was expecting. Barney is once more in control of the tempo like he should be. The melodies in this are the best so far, so heavy styled with old Death Metal, but with the Thrash speed, making it catchy and fun. This is these guys showing how they can have several options of talent, throw it all together and we still love it.

Contagion” slows things down a little to start off. However, the pace soon picks up, the melodies spilling out beautifully. The pace builds and falls, but does so brilliantly and never makes you worry to will slow down too much. Vocals are strong, holding the song together with a few slower aspects trying to poke through, instrumentally. But, again, you can’t fault anything about the song. Heads will bang and pits will form. This one, is a longer song than most on the album, but it never feels over extended. “Joie De Ne Pas Vivre” sounds like a random mix by some kinda Black Metal project to start off with. Its distorted and messy as fuck. The whole feel continues and still fells weird, maybe its not needed, you can decide. For me, it does nothing for the album.

Invigorating Clutch” feels like an intro to something huge. The build up continues with more depth being added. It kicks off fully just before the 90-second mark. It still feels a bit Atmospheric, Sludge like almost. It is very experimental, not sure it meets the levels that their standards are at. Seems like another missed opportunity for a better choice of song. “Zero Gravitas Chamber” takes off with the re-introduction of speed. Thank fuck. The aggression has kicked up the gears and transforms the sound once more to more impacting melodies. This blend of melodies continues and whilst it doesn’t set off fireworks, it is a welcomed return to the pace that went off on a stroll previously.

Fluxing the Muscle” keeps the hostile levels high. This is true aggression, vocally, but the melodies are still not as heavy as I thought they would be. The melodies build up well but seem too timid. Don’t get me wrong, I still really like the song, but I just think it could have gone up a notch or two. “Amoral” builds up nicely, no real explosion, but also never picks up. The issue here is that the vocals are also bland. It just doesn’t feel like a NAPALM DEATH song, it sounds tired. This could be from many bands and I would still say that it doesn’t build any real excitement. Its hard to know what they thought would happen in this song.

Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism” starts with Barney (I think) screaming out last gasp. The song then kicks off with similar anger and passion, which is a good thing. The album has just been picked up, again. The aggression is met by the melodies’ intensity. The song isn’t as fast but holds together really well. The song goes so many ways out of control, which is what makes it work so well as the control some how brings it all back. Much better. “Acting in Gouged Faith” continues with the heavy hitting instrumental melodies as Barney joins in. the tempo is set to a decent(ish) level. Saying that, it still feels like it should be hitting higher and more intense levels. The song kinda loses interest also, and could just keep playing without encouraging any more interest, this is not what we want to happen. It does however aim to finish high, where was this in the rest of the song?

A Belly Full of Salt and Spleen” was one of the first songs to be released, I believe. I remember listening to it on Spotify and thinking, what the fuck? And that is still what I think. The previous song had a better end and would have capped the album off far better. Lets be honest, NAPALM DEATH are always gonna be held high in the world of Metal, especially in the Extreme side. The issue I have is that the album feels more Melodeath than Grindcore. The album works out well and as an album on the whole, there is nothing wrong with it, but it just feels a little bit calmer than I was expecting when I took on this album. If this was played at random, some of the songs I would not say would be NAPALM DEATH.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Fuck the Factoid
2. Backlash Just Because
3. That Curse of being in Thrall
4. Contagion
5. Joie De Ne Pas Vivre
6. Invigorating Clutch
7. Zero Gravitas Chamber
8. Fluxing the Muscle
9. Amoral
10. Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism
11. Acting in Gouged Faith
12. A Belly Full of Salt and Spleen
Mark "Barney" Greenway – Lead Vocals
Mitch Harris – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Shane Embury – Bass Guitar
Danny Herrera – Drums
Record Label: Century Media Records


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Edited 21 March 2023

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