The Grand-pappies of Grindcore return for another bout of political shit kicking delivered with size 13 hobnail boots. Social commentary with clout is what NAPALM DEATH are about and they give a refreshing reality check to a world of Metal that rarely touches on the state of the globe in this way. You will happy to hear that their latest diatribe is brought to you with their usual belligerence and brutality together with some interesting additions.
Barney’s bellicose bellowing stagedives into a mash up of no nonsense concentrated aggression right from the first track. Yet again they demonstrate how to be a perfect bridge between old style hardcore Punk and Death Metal. Six strings surge along with antagonism in mind, whilst the rapid fire drumming strafes just as much as it blasts, to an altogether lethal effect, add in some demolition bass and the occasional unhinged shrieking from Mitch Harris and you have a diamond hard extreme experience par excellence.
Interest is furthered when you add in the guest vocalists, three of which join NAPALM DEATH to piss in their pot. My favourite contribution is on “The Great And The Good” where Jello Biafra treats us to his warped warbling which works surprisingly well with rough house bawling. Though no lyrics have been included with the promo and my ears lost the ability to discern even half sung vocals years ago, the song titles give more than a hint and with pictures of people ranging from Bush to Mugabe on the cover, you can bet no-one is beyond sniper range for these guys.
The mix of styles on “The Code Is Red … Long Live The Code,” though not particularly diverse does present some of the best that music influenced by Death Metal and DISCHARGE with a rocket up their arse can offer. What that also means is that on a good many of the tracks you can holler along, lungs exploding, with Barney (rather like his purple namesake,) as this album grabs you with plenty of sing-a-long choruses, including the rather splendid title track. Though, befittingly, NAPALM DEATH get a motor on throughout, they also throw in some hand brake turns, such as on “Instruments Of Persuasion” There is also distinction between the use of Death Metal riffage and the more straightforward Punk chordage, though when it is all thrown together into one song, the grin factor is set to maximum.
The band are not afraid to experiment and somewhat bravely choose to end the album on two slow numbers where anger gives way to sinister. The what – lurks-around –the corner atmosphere of “Morale” adds suspense as it segues into “Our Pain Is Their Power.” This album closer is the aural equivalent of someone gently forcing needles into your eye and after the bristling protest that is belted out before actually leaves you in a more thoughtful frame of mind.
Already an institution in much the same way as MOTORHEAD, NAPALM DEATH refuse to rest on their laurels. Stand in front of them and be prepared to be bulldozed into the ground. Possessed of enough energy to power a small city and prepared to stir it up for the majority that can’t be bothered, these pioneers continue to be relevant. Those of you who worry whether NAPALM DEATH can still cut it, should know better, these geezers, like Old Faithful, are the epitome of consistency and build and release the pressure with the same effect. (Online June 5, 2005)