Napalm Death with Kataklysm

April 13 • Mad Hatter

“It’s not for everyone,” says Mark “Barney” Greenway about the music made by Napalm Death, the stalwart English quartet that he’s been fronting since 1990. Greenway’s refreshing flatness is absolutely on target: Napalm Death’s brand of Extreme Metal is morbid, disobedient and unrelentingly abrasive — exactly the kind of material for which “Parental Advisory” stickers were created.

Napalm Death’s damaged sound has touched on a breadth of sub-categories — violent Thrash on the 1987 pre-Greenway release Scum, defiant Crust Punk with the socio-political fire of 1988’s From Enslavement to Obliteration, light-speed Death Metal with 1990’s Harmony Corruption — but is best encapsulated as “Grindcore.” As a term that’s gained underground currency since it was coined by original Napalm drummer Mick Harris, Greenway approximates that Grindcore was intended to classify “anything that was painfully slow to as fast as you liked it, with all points in-between.”

Today, the typical Grindcore song heaves layers of inhumanly fast guitars and berserk “blast beat” drumming upon any discernable harmony. As a niche aesthetic, it works strongest in short doses, as aptly exemplified by Napalm’s recent full-length (the band’s 14th), Time Waits for No Slave (on Century Media Recordings). Tracks with weighty names like “On the Brink of Extinction,” “Procrastination on the Empty Vessel,” and “Suppressed Hunger” work like vile jackhammers, pumping away mercilessly, while Greenway’s beastly and garbled voice ruminates on images of mankind’s filth and decay.

With borderline-indecipherable vocals and an endless pounding of instruments that resembles some protozoic form of music, what about this intense and polarizing style could ever be thought of as attractive?

In Greenway’s case, “What’s not exciting to me is anything that’s really metronomic or straight to the beat. Things lose a bit of an edge when they’re like that. There’s nothing better than organic music that sounds like it’s going to fall apart. Grindcore always gave me that.”

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