1 February 2015

Napalm Death - Aphex Predator - Easy Meat

To say that this album has cause controversy in ATTIWLTMOWOS is an understatement.  When it was first announced, there was words said to who was going to review it - guess who won. ;-) Next, once the album arrived - there was even more controversy.  A few of the members here love it, think it is another great album to the Napalm Death back catalogue; some of them are not impressed by it at all and think that it is another poor album like 'Utilitarian' (which for me was another brilliant album - I will not say which member said this).  Either way, I think it is just great that the album is causing debate; that is what Napalm Death should be doing! Even if it is just for the cover, which is brilliant and even a little gross (this is once again what I would expect).  But what about the music how will that fair?  To be honest, before I start this I would just like them to keep on being their crushing self; combining brutality and intellectual lyrics that they have (for the most part) been able to achieve.

Starting off the album is "Apex Predator - Easy Meat", with a strange drone and bizarre spoken word performance from Barney Greenway we are slowly introduced to the concept of Napalm Death beginning to take chances again.  The fact that this track is one of the longest on the album shows that they are not afraid of challenging your thoughts of what Napalm Death should be doing.  When the drums kick in, it really starts to get the blood pumping and the difference to their normal sound could not be more obvious; it is almost tribal (but not in a shitty Soulfly way).  It has a harsh almost industrial tone to the music and sound, it is an interesting and compelling opening track.  This crashes straight into "Smash A Single Digit" which is business as usual for Napalm Death, it is just all out attack from the outset and it is incredibly aggressive; business as usual then and my deity, is business good!  After this comes "Metaphorically Screw You" is another oral assault on the senses, with a massive opening barrage of drums and dirty riff noise, the band soon have their groove flowing and for two minutes they just keep the punishment coming.  Fourth track "How The Years Condemn" is a very subtle and strange opening, more loose and opening until is develops into a mosh pit classic, it might be as fierce as "Smash A Single Digit" or "Metaphorically Screw You", but it is still a storming number that is as aggressive as anything they have ever released.  It sounds like what they were aiming to do around the time of 'Diatribes', but now they can actually nail it down.

"Stubborn Stains" is the fifth track on the album, once again the band have gone for something different on the song; the guitar riff is more clean and off time with the rest of the song giving it a more sinister and vicious feel for most of the song until the riff kicks in like a boot to the side of the head.  It is an outstanding number that keeps improving with subsequent listens. "Timeless Flogging" is a more measured song, the slow grind and intense drumming is a different beast to most of the tunes on this album; when the song breaks down into a pit inducing anthem, it picks up speed again and this song about oppression is one of the stand out tracks of this album.  This is then followed by the delightfully titled "Dear Slum Landlord...." which starts incredibly slow, with clear vocals that build and build until it drops a riff like a bomb onto the audio senses of the listener.  Much like the song itself, it is a slow burner and it does take a few listens to get into; but be patient with it, it is a really rewarding track on this album which so far has not put a foot wrong.  "Cesspits" was the first song to be released off the album, it mixes all the points of their career (the ultra fast blast beats, the slower grind, the fury and venom to the world) into a sonic assault that once again takes a little while to sink in; but once again it is worth the wait, it just keeps on giving.  Track nine is "Bloodless Coup" and right from the start it is a vicious snarling beast of a song; it loses it way a little bit by the end of the number, however this is just a personal thing for me and does not detract from the fact it still sounds louder than bombs being dropped and still floors me.

"Beyond The Pale" is a combination of the more straight forward groove elements of the album - slow powerful and almost sludge like chorus, stampeding verses with harsh vocals and some fantastic guitar work from Mr Mitch Harris (who wrote this track).  It does have a brilliant drum section in the middle, just keeps me thinking what a machine Danny Herrera is behind that kit.  It is a track that once again took a few listens to sink in (something of a pattern with the second half of this album), however this is not the same as saying that I was not impressed when I first heard it - quite the opposite, I was just not expecting it on an album from Napalm Death.  "Stunt Your Growth" is what I was expecting from this album, full on grind assault and taking no prisoners along the way; it just kept on going from the opening thunderous riff to the last decibel ringing in my ear - the thing is though, I find "Beyond The Pale" just as rewarding for the fact it was not the instant moment that "Stunt Your Growth" is; they both have their distinctive features that make them both intensely amazing.  This album is showing no sign of momentum being slowed down with "Hierarchies"; this song is more groove and grind than all out war.  It is another track which has clean vocals on it, something that will have some of the faithful up in arms; you know what - fuck them!  If that is what Napalm Death want to do, I am fully behind them; is it what I want to hear, well it depends in the context.  In the context of "Hierarchies" it works incredibly well and it does not dominate the tune, to be honest as well it is not the best song on the album - but it is still a song that I found interesting and it does not stand out like a sore thumb either.  For the more traditional Napalm Death fan, penultimate track "One-Eyed" will be more you type of thing; it is straight forward grind core which sounds like a sledge hammer to the brain.  It is a great number and sets up the album nicely for "Adversarial / Copulating Snakes"; the final track not only brings down the curtains on the album, but it pretty much wipes the floor with the album.  What a track, it is just stunning in every way and I do not say this lightly - that is how a grindcore album should end, with the sound as if Armageddon is happening over your head.  At the half way point, the song slows down to sludge again reminiscent to the open track in someways.  But this is just to bring the pain in a new and different way, the slow drawn out sound of the song fading into the distant whilst random noises happen is probably the most fitting end to this album.

I think what I like most about this album is that it keeps things interesting for Napalm Death; it is undeniably something that only they could create correctly, it is also another album that keeps up that green patch that they have been on since they returned with 'Enemy Of The Music Business' in 2000.  Is it their best album ever? Well, I am still (and probably always will be) unable to move past 'From Enslavement to Obliteration' in terms of best Napalm Death album; it is just something that I have always though.  Is it the best of their recent work?  Well, that one is up for debate as well - I always find myself going back to Napalm Death albums years later and each time it is a fresh view.  What is not up for debate is the fact that this is a fantastic record; bring together an excellent collection of numbers that should please all of their fans. 

8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - Bloodless Coup

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Napalm Death website here

You can also follow their activities on Facebook here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

If Deezer is your streaming service of choice, here is a link for you

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