When Napalm Death appeared on the scene in the late 80s, they were one of the most extreme bands ever. Their grindcore assault, delivering uber-short metal numbers with a hardcore punk aggression, made their debut album ‘Scum’ almost impenetrable. It wasn’t just the sheer intensity that made it somehow fascinating, but also the fact that each side of the LP was recorded with almost an entirely different line-up, with only drummer Mick Harris remaining. This was clearly a band who mightn’t go the distance…
Napalm Death weren’t just a flash in the pan. A second album, recorded with vocalist Lee Dorrian – who appeared on part of the debut – assaulted the listener with a similar intensity over the course of twenty two numbers. After this, he would soon depart to form the doom metal band Cathedral and guitarist Bill Steer would form Carcass, both of who also achieved cult success. [While neither of Napalm’s first two albums were a commercial success, they’ve been critically acclaimed by the press, with ‘Scum’ heralded as a groundbreaking work].
From the band’s third album onwards, regrouping with vocalist Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway on board, Napalm began a long and far more settled journey, one which would see them temper their sound a little, mixing their grindcore roots with copious death and thrash metal influences. As the gig below demonstrates – recorded 25 years, fifteen albums and several line-up shifts into the band’s surprisingly long career – any tempering is relative, since Napalm still carry a hefty punch.
While Napalm Death have never been a band that Real Gone has really understood, that their extreme sounds could gain a much bigger audience than the likes of ‘Scum’ would have ever suggested years ago is something to be admired. [Early performance and interview footage can also be found in the video clips here].