Save for IRON MAIDEN and AMON AMARTH few bands have been on such a roll that NAPALM DEATH have been on as of late. Since “Enemy Of The Music Business” dropped in 2000 these Brummie Grindcore vets have been on an amazing surge, with each successive album improving upon the last and “Time Waits For No Slave” continues this trend in sublime style. After several listens I feel inclined to call this latest album one of their very best efforts yet as it truly combines and distils every element that has made them such an important band in extreme music circles. Quite simply, Barney and co are back and they’ve come out swingin’!!
In the months leading up to its release Barney has stated that this album will be more experimental than their last few albums and that it will surprise a lot of fans out there. This kind of talk often has the effect of working evolution-wary “fans” into a tizzy but I’m happy to report that no such nonsense is in order, as this album pretty much picks up where “Smear Campaign” left off three years ago, the band still showing an amazing knack of combining no-bullshit Grind with just the right amount of groove and atmospherics to create a sonic hellstorm that is at once blisteringly vicious and classy. The sparse SWANS-like “art noise” embellishments and occasional semi-clean vocals that really came to the fore on “Smear...” are still fully intact here but even more skilfully woven into the songs that one will barely notice it, as the songs are as tight as a mosquito’s ass stretched over a barrel and delivered with the kind of piss ‘n vinegar vigour that would put most bands half their age to utter shame.
I’ve tried to pick out any possible flaws on here, a futile task really, since this album is genuinely spot-on from start to finish, and one that gets more pleasing with every listen. The album hits the ground rolling with the mighty one-two punch of “Strongarm” and “Diktat” and from there it never lets up in intensity. This is a fucking heavy album plain and simple, but one that always has a catchy riff or crunching groove injected at just the right place, with Barney’s immeasurably powerful bark powering the songs forward with militant authority. Even when he breaks out relatively clean lines like in the title track and “Feeling Redundant” the quality is kept at a constant maximum, the band demonstrating a sublimely confident grasp of all the ideas and nuances they’ve picked up and utilized over the course of their illustrious career. Still not convinced? Try the “Fear Emptiness Despair”-on-speed blast of “On The Brink Of Extinction”, the very chorus driven “Life And Limb” or the surprisingly technical shape-shifting rock out of “De-Evolution Ad Nauseam” on for size and witness an extreme Metal institution in full flight, fangs bared and fists clenched. Couple all this with a crisp production job and you have a definite contender for album of the year and hands down one of their most brilliant albums to date.
(Online March 8, 2009)