Overall Score: 8.5/10 Noisiness: 8/10 Grind: 7/10 Boldness: 9/10 Pros: An entirely new facet of an illustrious career expertly executed Cons: A bold new direction that will anger layman fans of the band. Which technically is a positive.
Napalm Death’s penchant for noisiness is well documented. From their grinding, genre-creating debut LP, Scum, to the groove that has defined much of their post-millennium career, the band’s harnessing of auditory terrorism has seen many facets wrangled into borderline perfection.
They have smashed preconceptions of extremity’s boundaries into detritus multiple times. With their sixteenth full-length album, Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism, they don a veil of dissonance in the form of noise rock wearing their Sonic Youth meets Swans influence on their sleeves. Once again, they prove that grindcore is an insufficient descriptor for this art-punk project, and that they are not willing to settle into an unambitious rut as stalwarts of the extreme world.
The opening gamut of Fuck the Factoid, Backlash Just Because and That Curse of Being in Thrall showcases the band perhaps resting on their grinding laurels. However, Contagion and Joie De Ne Pas Vivre first demonstrate the now-trio’s ability to turn their vice-gripping hands to a genre not naturally associated with their legacy.
There are two standout, side-lining curveballs that elevate this album from a curiously successful experiment to an all time great in the band’s catalogue. Amoral, is formed of the throbbing 4/4 beat of Killing Joke, the throat eviscerating shout of Gojira – distinct from Barney Greenway’s usual barked vocal – and a post-punk lyrical aesthetic. It is a deceptively catchy moment never-before heard in Napalm’s illustrious and genre-spanning catalogue.
Finale, A Bellyful of Salt and Spleen, sees a continuation of the Swansian baritone that opened previous record, Apex Predator – Easy Meat, resulting in a clean sung, minimalist blast of understated, harsh noise. It feels a curio to end the record on upon first listen but releasing the pressure after a head-spinning ride is a satisfying denouement. It leaves you wanting more of Napalm’s noise-laden new direction.
Napalm Death’s Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism is released September 18th via Century Media Records.