Napalm Death: Apex Predator – Easy Meat (Century Media)
LP/ CD/ CS/ DL
Apex Predator – Easy Meat is the 15th studio album by grind pioneers Napalm Death. Released a couple of weeks ago it’s been going down really well, charting even in most places it’s been released. But the important question is what we thought about it, of course. Well you can now find out below.
There’s a certain pattern that arises whenever an established extreme metal act comes out with a new album.
It starts when the internet hype machine works starts promoting the record as a “return to form,” an album that will somehow recapture the band’s glory days.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of readers embrace the hype. They pre-order their ultra-deluxe special edition vinyl box sets and wait eagerly by their Mum’s mailbox, huddled in their tripp-brand trench-coats, stealing their pale bodies against the cold.
On the day of the album’s release, they flock the the Lambgoat message boards, heralding the album as the glorious return of “true metal” while shitting on new bands for being “posers.” Music journalists reiterate this opinion in magazines and blogs, heralding the record as a modern classic.
The band gets booked on a decent tour. They are interviewed by some scrub working for Pitchfork or Noisey.
Then…people stop talking. They stop listening to the album. They stop blogging and writing. The tours get smaller. Then, after a while, the album is just one more stub article on the bands Wikipedia page. One more brick in the wall of a bloated and vanilla discography.
It’s unfortunate, you guys, but it’s true. That kind of sucks, because a lot of really cool albums by older bands ended up lost in the cycle, like Autopsy’s Macabre Eternal or Mayhem’s Esoteric Warfare.
Napalm Death’s newest album, Apex Predator-Easy Meat, is destined to inhabit this media-hype void, but it’s a damn good album, perhaps as good as Scum.
Barney Greenway expressed his desire to make Apex Predator- Easy Meat “ambient” in recent interviews, and I think the band, for the most part, succeeded. Guitars are surprisingly clean sounding, flowering with reverb. Greenway’s vocals are filtered through multiple effects and buried deep in the mix, acting more as an instrument than a lead vocal.
These production elements are perhaps most apparent on the eponymous first track. Napalm Death totally deviate from their normal sound with a Swans-esque, industrial ballad of sorts.
It’s an interesting experiment, one that actually works. Greenway’s punishing vocals and Danny Herrera’s pounding drums conjure early Whitehouse, or perhaps Genocide Organ. I hope this style reappears on later Napalm Death albums. It fits them.
From then on, it’s classic deathgrind with the new, more ambient production.
Stubborn Stains is a highlight. Think Cryptopsy covered by Whirr and you’ll get the picture. The bass tone is absolutely bestial, like bones clattering together in a catacomb somewhere.
Dear Slumlords is also a fresh sound for Napalm Death. It almost has a King Diamond sound. Greenway uses clean vocals throughout most of the song. The heaviness kicks in about a minute into the song, with a slow, palm muted breakdown and Greenway’s rabid-pitbull vocals.
Bloodless Coup is another favourite of mine. It channels classic Napalm Death, circa From Enslavement to Oblivion, with an added dose of Driller Killer grind-beat.
This album’s glaring problem is its length. At 14 tracks, it’s about five songs too long. Grindcore albums are often samey, there’s only a few things you can do with blastbeats after all. They work best when they’re short and this record could use a shave.
It really is a shame that this album will end up being the victim of the metal hype cycle, because it’s really excellent.
Here’s too hoping it ends up next to Scum and From Enslavement to Oblivion as a Napalm Death classic.
All words by Joshua Hart. More writing by Josh on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.