Socialist Worker

Grindcore veterans Napalm Death are back with hardcore politics

by Guy Smallman
Issue No. 2722

Vocalist Barney Greenway

Vocalist Barney Greenway (Pic: Sven Mandel)

“The theme is basically the other—the treatment of the other,” says Shane Embury, bassist with grindcore legends Napalm Death.

“Not just the Black Lives Matter movement but the general treatment of people who are Afro‑Caribbean or South Asian, the treatment of transgender people. Its also about emigration and migration. The world wouldn’t be as it is in many positive ways without migration.”

Napalm Death are certainly not mellowing with age.

It’s an ear-splitting hybrid of hardcore punk and metal played at a million miles an hour. 

The doom-laden themes remain as dark as ever and the politics remain very much on message.

They stamped their colours to the mast with their cover of Dead Kennedys’ Nazi Punks Fuck Off back in 1992. They have been railing against injustice ever since.

This latest offering has plenty to say.

The topically entitled Contagion has an anti‑capitalist feel with such words as, “Greed is a contagion refined with a soulless poison.

“They negotiate in innocence with a greed that’s infectious.

“Blood soaked currency dictating their doctrine.”

Meanwhile the band’s influences are proudly displayed in the track Joie de ne pas Vivre. It borrows the clanky metallic bass sound of 80s trailblazers Big Black and Amoral, paying homage to post punk pioneers Killing Joke.

But all the tracks remain built around Napalm Death’s own unique sound.

While not the most accessible of records for everyone, fans of grindcore and its associated genres will deem it one of 2020s most essential releases.

Punk-metal at its darkest, but with a conscience.

Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism is out on 18 September

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Tue 15 Sep 2020, 13:20 BST
Issue No. 2722
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