NAPALM DEATH - INSIDE THE TORN APART - EARACHE
Singer Barney left the band and got replaced. Barney is back in the band again - even if the band bio from Earache somehow forgets to mention this small detail. Despite the fact that Napalm Death album number six is not great, it has turned out much better than one expected. For one thing, there are some fast moments and Barney is still barking. This even though ND is still a band without direction. They love to mellow out and go 'indie' but know that it would not sell. So, unsure of what to do the former grinders attempt a mix. Imagine Napalm Death with melody and a little experimentation. It is better than the Fear Emptiness album, but nowhere near as good as Death By Manipulation for example. - Ali "The Metallian"
NAPALM DEATH - WORDS FROM THE EXIT WOUND - EARACHE
At last here is a sign of life from Earache whose protracted negotiations with Caroline distribution in the United States had cast a few months of silence upon the label. While the establishment of a new distribution agreement is good news for the label, the fact that next to no one has missed the label is surely a reflection of the label's signing policy in the last few years! Almost as bad is the bio getting the band's year of birth/ founding members wrong, but I digress. Well on to the newie from the tried and true Napalm Death whose North American release comes some four months after the discs European release and hence to make the release precious contains three exclusive North American cuts. Much better, to these ears, than the band's last two studio efforts Diatribes and Inside the Torn Apart, the intelligently-named Words From the Exit Wound is probably once again brash enough to satisfy grindcore fanatics. Sure Barney manages to get silly and mimic Fear Factory a couple of seconds, but for the most part this album is trend-free. Not only Napalm continues its tradition of lyrics-with-an-intelligent message, but more importantly the band once again set forth to challenge their younger brethren in the blast arena. A track like The Infiltrator has to be heard to be believed - the paradigm for blast beats incarnate! The Metallian Tower welcomes crushing speed like this any day and so should everyone else out there. Ah, this spring is proving to be an exceptional season for those who like it heavy. - Ali "The Metallian"
NAPALM DEATH - ENEMY OF THE MUSIC BUSINESS - DREAM CATCHER
I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to be Earache Records if a band on the label would leave the label after 13 years and would proceed to name its next full length Enemy of the Music Business. Sounds like Napalm Death still have their heads in the right place after all these years - even if this record has an issuing label, distributor, etc! - which is something that is validated by the grindcore delivered on this album. Gone definitively are the confused mid-nineties when the band was 'progressing' , 'developing' and other such buzz words of the wimp. As with previous full length Words From the Exit Wound this is pure assaulting grindcore with Barney barking atop of a barrage of blasts and buzzing guitars. Apart from a hidden outro then, it's all business here boys and girls. - Ali "The Metallian"
NAPALM DEATH - THE CODE IS RED... LONG LIVE THE CODE - CENTURY MEDIA
The members of Napalm Death have long been known as the kings of grindcore, but the heart of the band's attack has always incorporated hardcore and (real) punk rock. Ergo, the new Napalm record finds the group re-exploring its non-metal roots, The Code Is Red... coming off as a less blast- enraptured affair than the excellent Enemy Of The Music Business and Order Of The Leech, all the while still maintaining the aggro the Brits have stood for since day one. In essence, this record takes the testosterone rages of '80s hardcore pioneers like Minor Threat, the Dead Kennedys (ex-Kennedys vocalist Jello Biafra even makes an appearance) and straight-edge mavens Youth Of Today, while juxtaposing that fury into the traditional ND paradigm. Some people are put off by the punk textures and fastfastfast dynamics found here, but I think the change is healthy: you can't blast away forever, and differentiation never did anyone wrong. Imagine the impact The Code Is Red would have imparted had it come out in 1983? That's testament to its appeal, no doubt. - David Perri
NAPALM DEATH - SMEAR CAMPAIGN - CENTURY MEDIA
Napalm Death has always appealed to two senses. The band's pioneering music has been a boon to fans of the raw and edgy music that pushes the limits of brutality and power, while intelligent and enlightened progressive lyrics and opinions have made the band's albums that much easier to pick up and enjoy - if that word can be used in such a radical context.
Smear Campaign is the album that delivers in both fields. Album number fifteen can be described as one that perpetuates the sound established as early as 1987 on the Scum album, here up-dated and given the 2006 treatment, whilst speaking truth to power via songs like Puritanical Punishment Beating, Freedom Is The Wage Of Sin, Eyes Right Out, Rabid Wolves (For Christ) or Deaf And Dumbstruck (Intelligent Design). The album's cover was more than a hint of course that Napalm's lyricisms and wisdom is as uncompromised as ever, so the music is the added delight here one supposes. The surge of hatred is sandwiched between the Swans/Prong type intro called Weltschmerz and the restrained title track at the end of the album. Bar a couple of contained instances of ambient vocals from singer Greenway reminiscent of the Diatribes era and some input by The Gathering's singer Anneke Van Giersbergen the rest of the material is extreme enough to shame bands half Napalm Death's age. The pure grindcore of the aforementioned Freedom Is The Wage Of Sin, the speed of Sink Fast, Let Go and the driving intensity of Identity Crisis, which is reminiscent of the band's work circa 1992, are perfect examples.
Napalm Death has been back on track for a few years and several albums now and the new release is going to perpetuate the trend. Smear Campaign is undiluted, unabashed and a triumph for the band and the genre. - Ali "The Metallian"
NAPALM DEATH - TIME WAITS FOR NO SLAVE – CENTURY MEDIA
Listening to Strong-Arm, the opening track of grindcore legends Napalm Death's new album, gives you a good representation of what will lie ahead on the pioneers' fourteenth album, Time Waits For No Slave. The song opens with an alternating guitar and drums stabbing out a rhythm, before erupting into a full-fledged destruction fest. Filled with blastbeats (the drumming is quite insane on this whole album) and a great performance by perennial voice of death metal Barney Greenway, the quality of the song that stands out the most is actually the complete removal from the qualities of grind that gave Napalm Death their name. Make no mistakes about it - Time Waits For No Slave is well produced. It is loud. It is mixed well. The guitars sound like steamrollers (which is pretty amazing, for a guitar). And no song is below three minutes but one, which is 2:57. This is not a grind album.
No, this is a fucking death metal album. This album is brutal, but it is also smart. True to Napalm Death's form, Time Waits For No Slave is legitimately smart death metal. Not just because of their typically serious and political lyrics, but also because of the level of variety and diversity of influences to be found, and that's what makes this one of the best death metal albums I've heard in a while.
Work To Rule is a good example of this sensibility. Harmonics, of all things, open the song, at ultra fast tempo, alternating with blastbeats and screams. In 3:17, it packs in several different sections and riffs, each of which is quality. The song is among the most intense on the album, and that's saying something. Brutality of this level is so rarely combined with such well-constructed songs, and such great performances by Mitch Harris on guitar and Greenway. And it takes a few listens to sink in, a quality that most death metal wouldn't have a chance at achieving.
But most importantly, it's brutal. Time Waits For No Slave is a brutal album in every sense of the word, and when I say brutal, I don't mean stupid kind of brutal, the kind where the production sounds like it was recorded in a trashcan and the lyrics are about shitting on a corpse. It's brutal like steamroller, facemelting. ear raping brutal. It's brutal like Feeling Redundant, one of the standout tracks. Filled with blastbeats and riffs, the song barrels along like a freight train of death. Chaotic yet strangely harmonic (not melodic musically, but fitting together well), Feeling Redundant is a tour de force; in violence, in technical skill, in sheer brute metal power (not power metal). This album is full of songs like Feeling Redundant.
And Napalm Death gets credit for varying it up, too. This album has influences from different fields and many different sounds and tempos contained. For one thing, the whole album has an almost punk vibe to it. Listen to On The Brink Of Extinction. As opposed to stuff like Deicide, the song is almost thrashy if not for the increased level of intensity and the stomach churning vocals. But elsewhere, there are black metal sounds to be heard, harmonic sounds and pure heaviness, midpace tempos and incredible blastbeats. Time Waits For No Slave is extremely well made.
It's paced very well, too. It isn't overlong or overshort, and there's no thirty-second grind blasts or ten-minute prog epics here. The album manages to sound very cohesive, paying tribute to twenty years of past death metal while sounding modern too. There are really no weak spots. There's no embarrassing songs, no stupid moves. Honestly, I can say this is my new favourite Napalm Death album.
And that may be most telling of all. Napalm Death has a long and varied career, and this album stands above the others - in brutality, intelligence, and performance. Give this to someone who thinks Slipknot is metal, and their brain will melt. Time Waits For No Slave is genuinely among the best death metal albums I've heard in a while, and I would recommend it to anyone who either wants to find out what death metal is about or is a seasoned metal fan already. This is great material right here. If you have an interest in extreme metal, you owe it to yourself to check out Time Waits For No Slave. Now go out and get it, then get ready to be assaulted! – Max V.
When it comes to people you want advice from, Mark “Barney” Greenway of Napalm Death fame is on top of the list. Not only has the man toured the world with his band, but he’s accumulated 15 years of business experience in an industry that is known (renowned, actually) for its backstabbers and two-faced assholes. That aforementioned industry is the music biz, of course, and Greenway is one who has been through enough stress at the hands of indie labels to last a lifetime. A friendly bloke from start to finish (and the rare metal musician who telephoned early instead of late), Greenway told it like it was, is and will be to David Perri over the course of the following Metallian chat promoting new record (and Century Media debut) The Code Is Red… Long Live The Code. – 05.05.2005
METALLIAN: The Century Media deal seems to be a resurgence for the band. It’s almost like Napalm Death has yet another new stab at life.
BARNEY GREENWAY: We’ve been experiencing that kind of resurgence since Enemy Of The Music Business, or even since the first Leaders Not Followers. As for Century Media, credit where credit is due. I’m the first person to criticize record labels, but Century Media has been doing good things. We’ve been walking hand in hand with the label, and that’s a refreshing feeling. It’s crazy to say that after 14 years of shit. With our other labels the help just wasn’t there. If a label or a person is doing good things, then credit where it’s due.
METALLIAN: There seems to be more of an old punk vibe to the new record as opposed to metal or even grind. Why?
BARNEY GREENWAY: That wasn’t entirely intentional; it’s just the way it turned out. We’re always striving to record albums that are raw and on our last few albums we felt the drum sound was too robotic. Recording is always a learning process, and on this one we learned that raw drums were what we needed to accomplish the goal of being less slick. There is a punk vibe on the record, but it’s still essentially grindcore. It’s got all the good elements of a Napalm Death album, and I think there’s also a little bit more of a mix of tempos which is always a good thing.
METALLIAN: How did you get Jello Biafra (ex-Dead Kennedys, Alternative Tentacles Records) on The Code Is Red?
BARNEY GREENWAY: There’s a long association with Jello, as we did some stuff for Alternative Tentacles at one point. Also, of course, the Dead Kennedys were a massive influence. The satire in Jello’s lyrics is genius. He has such a witty observance and witty take on things, especially on the track “Winnebago Warrior”. I mean, who writes lyrics like that anymore? It’s fantastic satire. We’ve also covered “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” and still play it live. So for The Code Is Red I travelled for an hour across the city to go to the studio to oversee Jello’s recording. And the whole time I was thinking, “Why do I need to be here? No one needs to oversee Jello. He knows what he’s fuckin’ doing!” (laughs).
METALLIAN: What wisdom can you impart to newcomers within the music industry?
BARNEY GREENWAY: Wow, big question. Ok, here we go. For a band, this piece of advice is universal and timeless: join you local musicians union! Before you do anything, before you even rehearse, join the union. They will help you with contracts. Contracts can fuck you from the outset, and the union is there to help you through this minefield. People in the industry are such great manipulators. Don’t let them manipulate you, stand up for yourself. Join the union. At the same time, don’t expect the world to fall at your feet. You need to work, you need to initiate, and you need some sort of spark and substance. This applies to any band, extreme or not. If you’re a label, be revolutionary and actually do what you promise you will do. The perfect example of this is Listenable Records. Laurent runs the label and he’s a great guy, he does what he says he’ll do. He’s always there to answer questions and his label has done well because of that. He has a passion for the music, and that’s how you wish everyone would run their label. Here’s a note to record label owners: you’re essentially holding someone else’s balls. At the end of the day, a record label owner can fuck a whole band’s existence. Therefore, you have to have a conscience and realise all this.
METALLIAN: In hindsight, what would you change about Napalm Death’s career trajectory?
BARNEY GREENWAY: I would never have signed to Earache. That’s pretty blunt, but it’s fuckin’ true. Earache’s contract had us on our knees, it was killing us. What really irritates me is bands that still sign to Earache today. They must have shit in their ears, because every band that has been on Earache has something bad to say about them. Entombed, us, Bolt Thrower, Morbid Angel, the list is endless. If it was one or two bands it might be a touch of the sour grapes. But it’s every band. I feel bad for bands that are currently on the label. What’s even worse is that Earache started with good intentions. Earache started off doing flexis and then power and money turned the label and the owner into greedy shitheads.
METALLIAN: You guys are getting on in age. Traditional beliefs would have us think that you’d be mellowing out at this stage, but Napalm Death seems as ferocious as ever. What still fuels your aggression all these years on?
BARNEY GREENWAY: (cuts off question) Sorry to cut you off, but we’re still angry because of the way the world is. Things haven’t changed. We’re still talking about the things the band was discussing at ht beginning of its career. I’m a bit older, but I’m still pissed off! Africa is still pretty fucked. There are major companies that are charging Africans market rate for pharmaceuticals. How can an African country afford that? They’ve got a 50th of the economy that the Western countries do. I’m a humanitarian at heart and my disbelief at the way things happen in this world continues with each year. Increasingly so, actually. Age doesn’t cut it with me. Years shouldn’t take the fire out of your belly. If your rebellion is constructive and it’s not just to piss off your parents, then you should always stay rebellious in order to achieve a better world. And that’s one of my goals in life.
METALLIAN: You quest for a better world is, in essence, a form of positivity. However, you attempt to achieve said positivity via quite aggressive and sometimes violent music. How do you resolve such that juxtaposition?
BARNEY GREENWAY: I don’t resolve it. It’s a good contradiction. We’re deadly serious, but we also have a humorous element. I always have to step back and laugh at the paradoxical nature of our message. It’s violent music but the ethos promotes ideas of equality, tolerance and peace. It’s fantastic that we’re still trying to do that, all these years later.
Time Keeps On Slipping, Slipping, Slipping...
Napalm Death has never been a band to do things in any sort of normal nor conventional way. This Birmingham-based grindcore progenitor has always blazed its own path, whether it be in the musical or political spectrum and, in that vein, Napalm Death has followed only its own instincts and sense of what’s to be done at any given moment. Case in point: more than two decades into its career - a juncture at which most bands don’t even exist anymore - Napalm Death has graced us with Time Waits For No Slave, a record that is definitely and defiantly Napalm Death’s best album of its storied career. Napalm vocalist Mark “Barney” Greenway spoke to Metallian before the group’s Montreal concert at the legendary Foufounes Electriques, a rabid and incendiary live display that might just go down as the metal show of the year. – By David Perri - 01.06.2009
METALLIAN: A lot of people are saying the new record is the strongest album of Napalm Death’s career. I happen to share that opinion, and I think anyone who doesn’t feel that way is simply shrouded in nostalgia.
BARNEY: No, no, no. I’d like to sort of deal with that straight away. I would never think badly of people who don’t think the new album is our best album. I’m not crass or stupid enough to think that everyone is going to like the same thing and not everything floats everyone’s boat. If that was the case, the world would be perfect and everything would just like the same shit, and that includes Napalm. So I have no problem with that at all. It’s only when people are deliberately nostalgic, and I think that’s the difference. It’s when people are nostalgic just for the sake of being nostalgic. They’ll say, “I’ve been into Napalm Death since the first album and I only listen to that one.” It’s like cutting your ears off. That’s something a little different, but if people genuinely feel that they like the early stuff better than that’s absolutely fine. I really don’t have a problem with that.
METALLIAN: What are your thoughts when people call Time Waits For No Slave the defining Napalm Death work?
BARNEY: It’s nice, of course. And we’re very happy with it, no question of that. But you can’t rest on your laurels, and you’re only as good as your last album or your last concert. So we have to continue to hopefully - and I say hopefully - be creative and put gigs on that people are going to enjoy. I hope that still continues to be the case. But we’re really happy with it. We apply ourselves, but there’s never a master plan with Napalm albums. It’s always very spontaneous and we don’t give ourselves a huge amount of time to write or make the albums. We’re literally sweating the last couple of weeks to get stuff done. But we work better like that, I find. So if that works for us, then I suppose that’s what we’ll continue to do.
METALLIAN: The band has been on a roll since Enemy Of The Music Business. It seems like there’s been a resurgence in Napalm Death’s career.
BARNEY: It seems that way to me, too.
METALLIAN: What do you attribute that to?
BARNEY: Well, not looking at all this as a career (laughs). If you do, you’ve got to go and find a way to make some money somewhere else. But just taking each day as it comes, basically. And this is not to sound negative, but perhaps we understand and comprehend that next week could be your very last because there’s always unforeseen things around the corner. A lot of times they’re not so major, but sometimes it can finish a band off. We’ve been together as this incarnation of the band pretty much since ’91 you can say, bar guitarist Jesse Pintado not being around of course. We do acknowledge that it’s been a long time since ’91 and we don’t take it for granted. Everything comes to a conclusion in the end, and we take each day as it comes. We’re just thankful that we’re still around. A lot of bands couldn’t be around anymore or decided that the pressure of whatever it is became too much for them and they just fell away.
METALLIAN: Did those reflections make their way into the lyrics on the new album?
BARNEY: Some of it, and it’s very simple. At its root, it’s about self-realisation. There were days when the record had just come out where I’d do 20 interviews in a day and I’d sit back and think to myself and wonder if there was a danger of over-complicating things. I didn’t disagree with what I had said in the interviews, but I didn’t want to over-complicate. This is a very simple thing, it’s about coming to self-realisation and understanding that you have the capacity to have a more colourful life in terms of enjoying yourself and taking time for yourself. I don’t think a lot of people genuinely do. And I include myself in that. I think sometimes we believe we are doing things for the good of ourselves, but we’re actually maybe slaving away and battling with things rather than just sitting back and enjoying the simplicity of just being alive in the world around you. We tend to forget that. And, again, I do include myself in that: I can’t say that enough. It’s a call to self-realisation. I’ve been feeling more of that, especially over the last few years but I still haven’t arrived at that point where I’ve got the ultimate self-realisation. And maybe that’s where the existentialism comes in. Do we or don’t we have it, and that’s the argument.
METALLIAN: It’s interesting, because when people come to some of those self-realisation conclusions some of the anger starts to ebb. And yet Napalm Death is still as ferocious as ever. How do you reconcile the two?
BARNEY: It depends how you channel it. You can jump up and down on the spot and be angry, but are you going to achieve anything? You can get politicians saying they’re angry, but are they going to achieve anything? Arguably, not really. So it depends how you channel it. Surely, the ultimate desired outcome is that things will change. Or evolve into something a little better. And I’m not suggesting for a minute that I’m going to personally do it on my own or this band is going to do it on its own. All we are is a voice, to add to other voices and other thoughts processes and other outlooks. That’s what we are. The more sort of general thought within the populace that you have, the better chance that things are going to get to a better place. So that’s essentially what we are. We are that.
METALLIAN: Do you guys consider yourselves a political band?
BARNEY: Increasingly less so, probably. Yes, by definition some of the things we talk about can be put into political boxes and yes, certain parts of my background in my family could be considered quite left wing. That doesn’t really apply to the rest of the guys, though. As time goes on, I sort of think that with whatever political system is in place there’s always a capacity for people to be fucked over and exploited. So, therefore, the most important thing is that people don’t have to go through that, whichever political system is in place. There are things that become, by very default, issues that you pick up on, and you realise that you really don’t like what’s going on and you feel it should be dealt with right now. It’s a priority, and you end up believing it’s a priority. So there are things that do become issues just by that whole process. But, generally speaking, my attitude now is that I yearn for no one being left behind. Some people might call it naïve, but everyone should be able to have an equal say and equality of existence, I suppose. I really do believe in that. And I know that the systems that are in place don’t give that chance right now, but if you give up and you don’t think about these things how is anyone ever going to get anywhere?
METALLIAN: Have you seen your music affect change tangibly? And I mean that in the best way possible.
BARNEY: I definitely get what you’re saying, absolutely. The fact that kids come to the show and think about that stuff and talk about that stuff is the result, as far as I’m concerned. And the fact that we’ve arguably put the seed into peoples’ heads and then they discuss that stuff is how we affect things. I don’t want to tell people what to do. I don’t want to tell people to be like me. All I’m doing is underlining things that I believe people should think about. They should scratch the surface and think about certain things. And I all ask is that people free their minds and open up their minds. Don’t accept crap… that’s the easiest way to say it. Because there’s tons of it out there, and if you can’t see that then you really do need to open your eyes.
METALLIAN: What are the goals for the band at this point? What does Napalm Death still want to accomplish?
BARNEY: Just to keep on doing what we’re doing. To be able to keep on doing what we’re doing. There are other places around the world that we haven’t been to. Even Napalm, the trailblazing band that played places before any bands ever considered going there… there’s still a lot of the world out there that we’ve yet to go. When people say places are dangerous to play, usually they’re not. The media kind of tells you that they are, but they’re not. And, yeah, there’s things out there that you don’t really want to get involved with, but on the whole when the media tells you not to go somewhere it’s usually not as bad as people make it out to be by any stretch of the imagination. There are a lot of other places to go to. I evaluate things based upon what’s going on at the time. There are certain places that I’ve boycotted over the years, though I don’t blame the people themselves for the problems necessarily. It’s like, do you really want to go there if there’s any sort of intervention from certain people that you don’t want to be involved with? That’s always a risk.
METALLIAN: Though you weren’t on the album, what are your thoughts on the debut album Scum all these years later?
BARNEY: Oh, I love it. No question. It’s a big part of my life, and I’m never going to turn around and tell people otherwise. Some people say to me sometimes - in interviews or otherwise - that a certain percentage of people just talk about Scum, or From Enslavement… maybe. And that’s all those people want to talk about so doesn’t it sort of give me a lesser regard of those album? No, not at all. Again, I’d be really crass and stupid to play those albums down. They were musical milestones no question, and not just in extreme music but on the general musical map. I think they were milestones for music and they were milestones for me in my personal life.
Century Media Records issued Napalm Death’s Time Waits For no Slave on January 23rd of 2009. The band’s website is at http://www.napalmdeath.org.