Tuesday 15 March 2022

Napalm Death - Resentment is Always Seismic: A Final Throw of Throes (2022)

Country: UK
Style: Death Metal/Industrial
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 11 Feb 2022
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It still feels strange to realise that Napalm Death are forty years into their career and they have a lucky thirteen studio albums to their name, the most recent of which made a whole slew of end of year charts in 2020 and got an 8/10 from me here at Apocalypse Later. This isn't number fourteen; it's a mini album made up of material that didn't make it onto that album, and it's as inconsistent as that might make it seem, but some of it is powerful stuff indeed, like the blistering two minute punk onslaught that is By Proxy. It isn't the grindcore of their debut album, which was really a pair of mini albums packaged together, but it hearkens back to even earlier anarcho-punk material, as did some of the material on that thirteenth album, Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

If that's the best song, there's a whole gradient of material behind it. Narcissus is a strong opener that fits very well with the best of the two covers on the album, Don't Need It, a Bad Brains track from their self-titled debut album back in 1982. It's a frantic but very true take on that original, a more appropriate cover here than the song I remember best from that album, Pay to Cum. Also of note are the two songs that play as a consistent double bill in between the covers. I'd have to give the edge to Man Bites Dogged, a chugger rather than a blisterer with its roots in thrash metal but Slaver Through a Repeat Performance is pretty close.

So far, that's all fairly expected for a band who have morphed over the decades from anarcho-punk to grindcore to death metal. Even when they shift into punk or flirt with thrash, they're immensely recognisable as Napalm Death. That starts to change when they shift into more unusual territory, something that they did on A Bellyful of Salt and Spleen, the closer to Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism and a song that almost felt out of place there. It feels like it has a lot more in common with the various tracks here that also delve deep into industrial.

The best of these, to my ears, is Resentment Always Simmers, a slower song in between Narcissus and the vicious assault of By Proxy, but a heavy one nonetheless. It plays well to me and tells me in no uncertain terms that the Napalms doing industrial can work within the confines of my personal taste, which dabbles in but has never dived into that genre. However, it doesn't work for me on the other cover here, which is of a 1988 single called People Pie by Slab!, a British industrial band. It's easily my least favourite piece of music here, which means that the closer is above it.

I've left that for last not because it's the closer or because I particularly like it, but it's interesting in ways that People Pie isn't. It's called Resentment is Always Seismic (Dark Sky Burial Dirge) and I guess that makes it the surprising title track. It's absolutely the dirge that its name suggests and I was immediately reminded of how Celtic Frost dabbled in industrial way back in the day, but taken to the degree of heaviness they reached much later with Monotheist. I remember mentioning the Frosties in my review of Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism too and it really shouldn't surprise to see them as an influence on Napalm Death. I wonder if they ever delved further back down that path.

So this is a mixed bag, as such collections of extra tracks tend to be, but it's an interesting one. The best songs here are easily worthy of sitting on a regular album and the worst are still unusual enough to be worth a listen, even if they wouldn't remotely fit on a regular release.

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