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Napalm Death: Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism

Napalm Death has been around long enough that they cannot release new material without generating tons of conflicting opinions. There are obviously lots of other bands that get a similar response, but Napalm Death is so influential and so enduring that fan opinions can reveal quite a bit about the state of extreme music. Some fans don’t like it when legacy bands stray from what defined them in the first place while others like to hear something new and different. I won’t say that Napalm Death is as polarizing as, say, Metallica, but the two bands both have a vocal fanbase that want the Napalm Death they like and nothing more.

I won’t go on about the band’s general tendency to divide listeners. Most of you know the band’s history better than I do. As much as I admire Napalm Death, I came to them relatively late and I tend not to reach for them when I’m in the room to sit back with some music.

This album might change that. Not only is it a blistering, restless, and chaotic set of songs, but it’s also a pointed response to the kinds of social and political problems that make our age seem so inexplicable. As I’ve noted in discussions of other bands, it’s hard to say what the soundtrack to our times should sound like. What kinds of music capture the crazy intensity we see all around us? I don’t have any answers to that question, but I can say that, for some, Napalm Death’s latest release is going to feel like a good match. The album is just so fierce in places that it seems ready to burst into nothing but sheer sonic intensity. As I write this, I’m listening to “Contagion,” a song that is as good as anything I’ve heard from this band. It’s one of the best things about this album and fans of extreme metal, no matter what they think of Napalm Death, should check it out. It starts out strong and then it shifts into an even greater intensity. “Contagion” was my favorite song by far, but there are other standout tracks, including “Backlash Just Because” and “Acting in Gouged Faith.” Even though I prefer the side of Napalm Death that really gets in your face with ferocious speed and intensity, I thought “Amoral” was a strong track. It’s definitely slower than most of the other tracks and sounds more like something by Killing Joke, but it’s worth checking out. Some listeners are comparing to something that Killing Joke might release. I think that’s a fair comparison, but I think it’s also just a good Napalm Death song.

I don’t hate the band’s more experimental side. Part of me really likes the kinds of things industrial and noise-oriented music can accomplish. Still, I didn’t particularly enjoy that side of the band this time around, especially on the track “A Bellyful of Salt and Spleen.” I think I can appreciate what tracks like that are doing, but I’m content to stick with “Contagion.”

Napalm Death’s last full-length album appeared five years ago. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely.

Track Listing:
1. Fuck the Factoid
2. Backlash Just Because
3. That Curse of Being in Thrall
4. Contagion
5. Joie De Ne Pas Vivre
6. Invigorating Clutch
7. Zero Gravitas Chamber
8. Fluxing of the Muscle
9. Amoral
10. Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism
11. Acting in Gouged Faith
12. A Bellyful of Salt and Spleen

Added: September 19th 2020
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 350
Language: english

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