176: NAPALM DEATH

Let’s be clear from the outset – Napalm Death invented grindcore. They may not be the only band responsible, but they certainly had no peers to emulate in Birmingham forty years ago. Over those four decades, they’ve terrified and enlightened countless impressionable youths, shocking and confounding parents along the way.

Napalm Death started out with clear influences from the crust punk scene of the day, but began to incorporate elements of death metal. Over time, these elements became more central, becoming something far more extreme than death metal. Guitars became lower and more distorted, the rhythms became blindingly fast, and the vocals devolved into something utterly inhuman and indecipherable. Thus, grindcore was born.

With the political roots of their crust punk ancestors in their DNA, Napalm Death have been vocally anti-establishment, pro-human and animal rights, and proponents of anarchism. This strong belief system and prolific output (16 albums, 14 EPs and then some) has kept Napalm Death’s status as metal legends and icons firmly in place after all these years.

While their lineup is a bit of a Ship of Theseus situation, with no original members remaining, the current lineup has remained virtually intact for nearly 30 years – which in itself is an incredible effort of longevity.

And after all these years, Napalm Death absolutely still have it. Just last year they released ‘Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism’, their 16th full length album. It was very well received by fans and critics alike – with Metal Hammer even naming it the second best album of the year – which is something few bands could even dream of beyond a dozen albums.