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Napalm Death - Scum (9/10) - Great Britain - 1987

Genre: Grindcore
Label: Earache
Playing time: 33:15
Band homepage: Napalm Death

Tracklist:

  1. Multi-National Corporations
  2. Instinct Of Survival
  3. The Kil
  4. Scum
  5. Caught... In A Dream
  6. Polluted Minds
  7. Sacrificed
  8. Siege Of Power
  9. Control
  10. Born On Your Knees
  11. Human Garbage
  12. You Suffer
  13. Life?
  14. Prison Without Walls
  15. Point Of No Return
  16. Negative Approach
  17. Success?
  18. Deceiver
  19. C.S (Conservative Shithead)
  20. Parasites
  21. Pseudo Youth
  22. Divine Death
  23. As The Machine Rolls On
  24. Common Enemy
  25. Moral Crusade
  26. Stigmatized
  27. M.A.D
  28. Dragenet
Napalm Death - Scum

Too often the word legendary is thrown around with no particular meaning nowadays. A band can release a half-decent album and be considered "legendary" by some areas of the media. In this case, however, legendary is sued in the true sense of the word. To understand why, you'll need to cast your minds back to the time „Scum“ was released.

 

Back in 1987 British Metal seemed non-existent. The old guard of MAIDEN and PRIEST were still going but hardly releasing their best material. The American Thrash of SLAYER and METALLICA had wiped us Brits off the map so to speak. Until six young English Punks decided to record a behemoth of an album. Recorded with two different line-ups, this album was certainly more than it first seemed.

 

And finally onto the music! The album kicks off with the feedback and crash cymbals of "Multinational Corporations" with Nik Bullen (bass/vocals) rasping "Multinational corporations, genocide of the starving nations" over and over again. As far as opening statements go, I think this, along with "Control", basically shows NAPALM's original political stand point. Then, the first song, "Instinct Of Survival", kicks in and jaws are on the floor as soon as the first blast section starts. How can Mick Harris drum that fast? It's no wonder he was called "The Human Tornado"!

 

As "Instinct..." draws to a close, the first thought I had was, "Woah!! What the fuck just happened then?" But in a good sense of course! The next song, "The Kill" shatters all conceptions of song structure. A full song, twenty seconds? You must be having a laugh! But that’s what it is. A what an incredible song it is. Once the vitriolic title track comes in, you'll thrashing around like a mindless maniac, or turning it off as fast a Harris blast beat to stop your ears from bleeding. Its THAT good!! Side one of this monster ends with the best song of all. "You Suffer" is absolutely legendary. Less then 3 seconds long shouldn't really count as song, but it does, and it’s that song that crowns this album as superb.

 

After "You Suffer" the line up changes for side two. Out goes Nik Bullen and Justin Broadrick (guitar) who would of course go on to form other ground breaking bands like SCORN and GODFLESH. In came Lee Dorrian (vocals), Jim Whitley (bass) and Bill Steer (guitar), who also would go on to form other great bands, will Bill Steer forming goregrind pioneers CARCASS, and Dorrian forming the Doom Metal flagbearers CATHEDRAL. The first track that the new line-up produces is "Life?" Which is an absolute grinding track, and a great way to introduce the new members. The album continues in this vein. Blurred, muddied riffs, heavily distorted bass, gravel gargling vocals, and of course, Harris' inhuman drumming. Personal favorites off the second side include "C.S (Conservative Shithead)", "Success?" and "Deceiver". But when the last lines of "Dragnet" come in, a poignant message is left ringing in your ears. "Pushed too far, just a matter of time, seemingly nothing to halt the tide... ...Except the end - accept the end?" This still rings true today. When will Bush and Blair take it too far?

 

The production on this album may turn some people off, but I think that the muddy guitar sound, overpowered by the drums suits the album to a tee. If this album had had millions of pounds spent on making the guitar sound all pristine and crisp, it would not sound the same, and would not be any where near as influential as is it. To put it bluntly, this album has influenced every form of Metal, from Black Metal to Death Metal and obviously the Grindcore genre that NAPALM and REPULSION created. Like all the truly great albums, "Black Sabbath" and "Seven Churches" for example, "Scum" was created on a shoestring budget by kids who perhaps didn't quite have a grasp on what they were doing. There's a lesson in there somewhere.... (Online August 17, 2006)

Michael Slaughter



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