When Napalm Death appeared on the metal scene, they sounded like very little that had come before. Sure, death metal had already begun to establish itself by the mid eighties, but the scene’s earliest acts – such as the most literally named Death – combined their brutal speed with fretboard assaulting lead breaks and other elements most closely associated with the thrash and speed metal of the day. Birmingham’s Napalm Death were different: they took that speed and aggression and distilled it to its absolutely purest – and often shortest – essence. With the speed of death metal, but the suckerpunch delivery of hardcore punk, they laid the foundations for what became grindcore. Their earliest works were so frantic and intense that even the original band only stayed together for one side of an album. That LP – 1987’s ‘Scum’ – remains a landmark for the extreme metal/punk subgenre; with its twenty eight tracks delivered in approximately thirty three minutes (a duration bulked out by the title track stretching beyond two minutes), the album was the aural equivalent of being smacked repeatedly with a brick.
Since those days, grindcore has remained a much-loved – albeit marginal – genre among fans of extreme metal. Few have surpassed ‘Scum’ for intensity; even Napalm Death themselves sounded like they were recycling by the time it came to recording a follow-up. On their debut EP, Poland’s Struggle Manifesto come close to re-igniting the sparks of excitement first delivered by ‘Scum’, the vinyl release’s five bursts of sound filling a lightning-fast 3:39, all wrapped up in a Catholic-baiting sleeve.