Napalm Death, along with Death, are considered the fathers of death metal and grindcore. I use to own a funny little novelty record called "Scum" in the mid 80's that we thought was hilarious. Who would have ever thought that Napalm Death would be taken seriously and start an entire genre of music? Well, not being a big fan of grindcore, I never payed much attention to Napalm Death after "Scum," nor was I concerned with replacing my vinyl copy with a cd version until one day I found "Inside the Torn Apart."
Napalm Death - Scum (Earache) 1988
The year was 1988. I was living in an apartment in Rochester NY and attending school at R.I.T. My room mate purchased the new record from Napalm Death and brought it back to our apartment to check out. Neither of us had heard anything like it before. I remember my thoughts upon hearing this record for the first time. I thought to myself, "if it gets any fast than this it will just be one continuous tone." "Scum" may not be a great album, or the best thing Napalm Death has recorded, but it's most certainly an important, historical record in that it announced the coming of grindcore. At the time I would have had a hard time describing or labeling their sound. There were plenty of thrash bands around at the time, but this was far more chaotic and raw than even bands like Kreator and Slayer. Even early death metal bands like Death and Possessed didn't have a sound like this. What Napalm Death had succeeded in creating was a completely new genre. Not unlike thrash bands at the time they combined the speed and aggression of punk and hardcore with NWOBHM riffing, but somehow they did it completely different. The best way to describe it would be "controlled chaos". The production is absolutely horrid, but I think that partially adds to the appeal. It's not about good production, perfect playing or anything else. It's about speed, aggression, speed, intensity, speed, blast beats, and more speed.
This album has been release a number of different times. This was first released by Napalm Death independently but later Earache came across Napalm Death and made an official release of the full length. The first half was also intended to be apart of a split with British hardcore act Avistic. As I recall, the original vinyl release on Earache was yellow, but there have been several repressings since in many different colors including purple, orange, gold, green, and blue. The first pressing of the CD (1988) came as a 54-track CD including the "From Enslavement To Obliteration" album and 4 bonus tracks (which are the tracks from "the curse" EP exept for "the curse"). My copy has a copyright date of 1991 and was released by Relativity, as licensed from Earache Records. The album has since been reissued several more times including in colored vinyl and as a DualDisc.
It's also of note that Lee Dorrian recorded the vocals for tracks 13-28.
Napalm Death - Diatribes (Earache) 1995
Diatribes is one aggressive disc, yet maintains interest with strong riffs and surprisingly accessible songwriting. These guys have come a long way from "Scum." "Greed Killing," a song first released on the "Greed Killing" EP, opens the album with sheer intensity and some tribal like rhythms, reminding me slightly of Sepultura. The album never lets up from this point on. The sticker on the front of the disc says this is "Part 2 of the Diatribes sessions." Part 1 is the "Greed Killing" EP.
After purchasing "Scum" on vinyl back in the late 80's, I failed to follow Napalm Death. I saw them as a niche band and "Scum" as a novelty album. Over time, however, I began to understand the importance of "Scum" and how it lead to an entire genre of metal. In 1998, ten years after buying that vinyl, I found this disc for a whopping 95¢ cents, in perfect condition. On first spin, I was pleasantly surprised by "Inside the Torn Apart" Napalm Death have expanded their sound. It's no longer just about speed. Rather, the band have added elements of thrash, traditional heavy metal and even some hardcore into the mix. Very cool! "Inside the Torn Apart" is a serious, in-your-face, rip-you-in-two, metal album and resparked my interest in Napalm Death.
Had this CD signed by vocalist Mark 'Barney' Greenway & bassist Shane Embury when I saw the band opening for Kreator in March, 2006.