Written by Eric Bauer of HIGH DEFAMATION. Be sure to follow his blog for excellent metal and movie reviews!
If I had only two words to describe the new magnum opus from long-time UK grindcore savants Napalm Death, it would be those scrawled above.
As luck would have it, I happen to have an endlessly open format for alliterating on the new album, “Apex Predator – Easy Meat”. This being the first LP since “Utilitarian” dropped just a short three years back. Given the duration of daily cycles since, it obviously occupies a similar aural space, but to my ears hides an entirely different beast.
In fact, if you were to attempt sizing up the album by the opening and title track, an experimental, mostly percussive chant in the vein of old Einsturzende Neubauten, then you’d be doing some double takes as the follower, Smash a Single Digit, grinds into high fucking gear. From there it’s just relentless short of the few occasions Napalm Death dial it back and lurch into the avant gardism of the title cut. Dear Slum Landlord treads heady territory, as well, venomous and chromatically aberrant with a lid barely suited to contain the track’s seething disgust.
The meat of the record is grindcore, of course, but following the band’s tendency to buck pigeonholing it’s a lot of other things, as well. Technically it’s all over the place, shredding and pounding and eviscerating, and this thing thrashes, man… the hooks, when they hit their stride, are just freaking supreme.
The line-up here is no different than it has been since 1989. Greenway spews some of his most incendiary and livid topical prose. Touching on a myriad of social issues that run the gamut of left leaning political grind, but written esoterically enough to compete with “Utopia Banished” as their most hateful platter of vitriol yet, and that’s goddamn saying something. Barney’s vocals here when they’re not chanting like a depraved Benedictine monk who’s just realized there is no god, vary from a rage driven snarl to an incomprehensible roar of disdain that shreds like glass. Un-fucking-impeachable.
At this point in his career, Mitch Harris is a pseudogod on the axe. His guitar work spastic and technical, going chugga chugga chugga one second and then exploding into scales that his fingers were just meant to play. His cacophony making every attempt to just obliterate the Marshall stacks looming behind him. As well, Shane Embury’s bass goes along for the ride. A distorted low end pulse that gallops and squelches, mating Harris’ guitarwork with the driving and propulsively booming total war of Danny Herrera’s drum kit, itself a bombastic portentous miasma of grind, hardcore, and some ridiculously anthemic death metal. As a unit, they’re the four heralds of apocalypse. A riled troupe of deviant compositional geniuses.
It’s early in 2015 yet, but I can’t imagine an album occupying similar audial space topping this one before the year’s end. Crushingly brutal, quirkily avant garde, and chaotically obtuse its vitriol and impassioned disdain. This is the best this band has sounded since 1992. A seminar in world ending trumpeting, and a declaration of defiance for a band that somehow remains vital, unironically bitter, and most importantly relevant in the current landscape of watered down music tailor made for metal hipsters and corpse painted neck beards playing pretend in the snow with swords and cudgels. This is real audio terrorism, no fucking doubt about it.